The importance of friends
My 40th birthday looms ever closer and while I have given it very little thought up until now, the reality is I can no longer ignore the fact that is not only the next birthday for me, but its also not very far away. Its a landmark birthday, and previously I’ve never been fortunate enough to have had anything particularly special done for any “big” birthdays before, indeed for my 30th birthday all I got from my ex was a card… no, not a card and a trip to Vegas… just a card! This time around obviously things are going to be quite different, while it may still be a big birthday, and I guess psychologically quite big to get my head around, I think the obvious fact is that I will be suitably distracted by baby number two who will be three months old by that point! So really I don’t expect much, indeed becoming a parent changes your mindset hugely, and now we have one child already, I am very keen to meet number two, and so having a happy, healthy family is pretty much all I could ask for. Its certainly far more than I expected around seven years ago, just before I met Clare, when I was in my early thirties and had become single again after ditching the ex who couldn’t even bring herself to buy me a present for my 30th birthday (yes, I’m bitter about it!). Back then I was beginning to think that either a) all women were crazy b) I wasn’t very good at this relationship thing (even though I considered myself a nice guy!) or c) both a and b were true, in which case I was knackered! I certainly didn’t think a wife and two children would even be a possibility by the time I was 40!
This happiness and contentment with life and the universe is a great thing, but it can lead to feeling a little guilty at times. Its true, I have left things to the last minute in terms of settling down, but not all of us are lucky to meet the right person for us so early on. I know of one couple who got married when they were in their very early twenties, “you’re too young!” they were told by so many people, but after celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary with two children in tow, they proved everyone wrong. Sadly this kind of good news story is rare, and while a lot of my friends were married long before me, I now start to see them become single again as their marriages break down, its very sad. On top of which, being a wedding photographer, you get to see the happiest days of some peoples lives, they are magical to share… but not all of them work, and I frequently get to hear about the ones who don’t… yet here I am feeling wonderful about life, a fantastic wife, a beautiful daughter and number two on the way. I can’t lie, I feel a little guilty sometimes, like I am used to not having these simple luxuries and feel bad that some people had them and have lost them. I even have close friends who have recently split up where children have been involved, its all I can do to hope they remain civil, for the childrens sake. It takes me back to my childhood where I was the one who suffered with the parents splitting up and only seeing our dad at weekends and school holidays, often it wasn’t even every weekend. Alcohol played a big part in his life and I was too young to understand, so often me and my sister didn’t question things, its just the way it was. It wasn’t great, but it was all we knew. As I started to grow up I put it all behind me and tried to forget about it, but then as you start to get close to, and turn 30 you do begin to have these thoughts about relationships, settling down, and families. I didn’t go into every new relationship wondering about marriage, but obviously after a while you do have to stop and assess the situation and think to yourself “do I see a future with this wierdo person?” and the answer was invariably “no!” regardless of how long it took me to do actually anything about it afterwards.
So now I find myself in that position that I always hoped, but never thought I would be in, wife and daughter and another one on the way. Life feels great, but I do sometimes still feel guilty when I am around friends in, or recently out of, relationships or marriages which hadn’t been working for some time. Either way, I have a wonderful wife and I think I am a fairly good, sensitive, considerate husband who tries to do all he can to keep the wife happy… I am pretty sure that after the rollercoaster that has been the last 30 years, I am owed a little happiness. All I can do is support my friends and be there for them, and just hope that if the tables were turned, they’d be there for me too! At my age, the majority of my friendships have lasted a good while now, and my friends will know that I am there for them, as they will hopefully agree with!
So back to the here and now, and here I am with two weeks out of six of my holidays already done, and I don’t feel like I have got much done, but it has been nice to catch up with some friends and family, even though I still have a whole lot more to catch up with and I am probably going to run out of time to do i!, especially with our first family holiday just around the corner! The last week has been spent well, we had fun visiting people, going to see the animals at the nature centre and going swimming too, it has been lovely spending time with Olivia and getting a few bits done around the house and garden on her nursery days.
This weekend we had two childrens parties to attend, one of which we were involved in, as It was a joint part and Olivia was part of the celebrations. Two years ago we’d completed our antenatal course and got to know some great couples, and it wasn’t long before the first baby of the group appeared, the rest soon followed with only about six weeks or so between the first one and the last one. We all met up for their first birthdays this time last year and I managed to get a photo of each of them which the wife put into a lovely collage for all the parents…
It was a photo that everyone fell in love with straight away, including myself, and one photo that I was very keen to try and replicate on their second birthday. I would be happy to make it a bit of an annual tradition so that we can see them grow up and keep a record of it. The joint 2nd birthday on the Saturday went really well, and everyone enjoyed themselves, especially the kids. I had made it my mission to get at least one good photo of each of them to create a similar collage made by the wife last year. It was far trickier than I had imagined, as they were all now mobile and very fast with rather short attention spans. If there is one thing I have learned from taking all the photos that I that has the kids are in charge, and there is no forcing them to do anything , especially if they are surrounded by distraction and are prone to not looking at the camera and running off! At times like this though, the perseverance tends to pay off and I got lucky, I managed to get a photo of each of them, although I wasn’t giving up until I had, and here it is…
Such a good looking bunch of kids, this photo made me incredibly proud. I can’t wait to get it printed and on the wall, it will be something we all look back on for years to come!
-Days until my 40th birthday: 288