I’d like to start by saying that I’m delighted to hear that – according to one lady who has reached the ripe old age of 100 – the secret to a long life is Gin.
I knew something so good, couldn’t be so bad. I may not stretch to her 6 a day, but I do love my little glass of sparkle at the end of a day.
And it’s fitting too, that gin will feature heavily in my new blog… yes, it’s time to say goodbye to The Sandwich Years.
As I have written a lot about, one of the things I have been forced to learn (kicking and screaming and tearing my hair out at times, admittedly) is how life is a constant change. Sometimes those changes are thrust upon us, and sometimes they are a natural progression – either way they take courage and care to step out into new land. A nice wedge helps too.
And so it is with this blog. It started out 9 years ago as Mummy Mania, where I cut my blogging teeth as my babies cut their milk ones at my feet. I found my voice as a new bedraggled and frenzied mum, and an awestruck and bowled-over-by-love mum and wrote about this amazing and confusing time as I adjusted from being an independent person to one that couldn’t go to the toilet alone. I wrote some crazy stuff about my crazy life and that blog made me some friends from the blogosphere that are still my cheerers and shoulders today, as I am theirs. That blog also got me some magazine commissions and helped me develop a sense of regular writing as my career as a writer developed. I had a little Gin to celebrate my survival through those mind-and-body-altering years, where the responsibly of caring for little lives often felled me in ways trekking alone across SE Asia never did. I might have swum with sharks but wading through the toddler years are much more dangerous waters.
I was sad to see that Mummy Mania blog go, but when I entered a new phase of my life, I knew it was time to bid it farewell and evolve into something new. I took down the banner, and the photo and I replaced the image and the name, and The Sandwich Years was born.
For five years I wrote about the struggles and stresses, the love and laughter of my life as I cared for my mum and my babies, and ultimately the end of my marriage. Many of the blogs posts became very serious, as I dealt with some of the most difficult episodes of my life, including the death of my lovely mum. But that blog too served me very well… and from it’s pain and poetry came a book deal, and a bestselling memoir emerged from it’s premise (available on Amazon!)
Motherhood is still manic, and my sandwich years still exist to an extent (although I can hardly say I ‘look after’ a dad who has already made me my Christmas cake and who mowed my lawn last week) but I am taking a step in a high heeled glitzy sandal into a new phase of my life, and like a trusty old friend, I’m bringing my blog with me.
Together we will stride out, Gin& Tonic in hand, to embark on an exiting new journey.. as a mum of course, as a single women embarking on the dating scene, as a mid-aged woman about to start a hormonal odyssey into the unknown, as a writer playing with lots of exciting projects, and as a women navigating a new life.
So this is the last time I will write under The Sandwich Years banner. You have served me well but I will have a little Gin & Tonic now to toast all that we have been through together, and to celebrate what you have given me… a voice when I often didn’t have one, a book deal and a lifetime dream of being published and friends who have responded with love and support (apart from a particularly crazy one who makes up email addresses to insult me… hey ho. I’m amazed that someone who is so irritated by my blog continues to read it!).
So it is time to let go of this phase of this blog, and this phase of my life.
Salute as they say…..and to those who read these pages thank you. Thank you for staying with me through these tough times…. I hope you stay with me now for the good times, the haphazardly hormonal times, the good, the unbelievable and the challenging… because one thing the posts of this blog show over 9 years – you get them all, sometimes in one day.
I wrote recently in the Irish Times about my peer group of women redefining what it means to be middle aged. We just don’t fit the stereotypes, and we are probably the first generation of women to take advantage of the extra years we have been given. 150 years ago out life expectancy was 40. Once children were reared, women retreated into the background to knit away their remaining days. Now it is 83. Women today find themselves with an entire extra lifespan to enjoy, and for the first time we are beginning to shed the image of grey-haired, elasticated-waist-wearing has-beens. Those extra decades aren’t added to the end of our lives… they have been inserted into the middle and Middle age is being redefined by a new generation of women not ready to hang up their high heels.
I am so excited about my new blog… it will no doubt contain dating disasters, puberty potholes as my home becomes the House of Hormones (three daughters heading into puberty and one single woman heading into menopause… it can’t be good), highs and lows. My marriage is over, my parent-care years have eased and after 10 years of babies and toddlers I have three school children. I have reached the statistical mid-point of my life, but when I look in the mirror, I don’t see ‘middle aged’. I see a woman with a whole life still ahead of her.
My mid-life crisis is a mid-life opportunity. And I’m not alone. All around, I see my generation of women refusing to disappear into the mists of middle-age as silver hair becomes the new golden age.
So my new blog is going to explore this time…. I am having to embrace certain physical changes as menopause madness looms (eyesight failing, boobs needing more support to stay up, and rogue black hairs appearing spontaneously on my chin) and enter scary dating territory (was told by one dating agency that 46 is the least popular age for women to be selected… thanks), raising three girls to be empowered, confident feminists who will tackle all kinds of issues in their teenage years, and striving to fulfil my creative dreams as a writer, whilst trying to pay the bills.
So I hope you join me as I hot flush into the Grin & Tonic blog years, tweezers at the ready. It’s going to take courage and friendship and laughter and heart. Goodbye The Sandwich Years…your job is done. As Beyonce pointed out with her new album Lemonade (when your life is handed lemons, you can still make it sweet)…. even a bitter lemon can be made to taste good when mixed in the right ingredients. So I hope you enjoy my new blog Grin & Tonic, a slice of lemon in a glass of sparkle. Onwards and upwards… always.