If I had been dreading my birthday, (last Tuesday, thanks for asking), that foreboding dissipated last weekend when I was invited as a plus one to a lunchtime drinks party. I didn’t know the host at all and had decided at an event the night before that – as I really wasn’t cracking solo socialising – I might allow myself to become a hermit. However, back in the ring, on this occasion, I knew immediately that things were going to be fun when the door was opened by a retired former head teacher resplendent in turquoise eyeshadow – which co-ordinated nicely with her moroccan slippers, red hair and gold palazzo pants.
A few hours later I left her home , Prosecco – fuelled and bubbling from the optimism, bawdy humour and diverse interests of the people that I’d just met. (I think I may find out in January that the Prosecco was responsible for my showing too much interest in wild water swimming lessons, but on a brighter note, apparently I also joined a book club that rarely reads books, diverting all its academic attention to a local wine bar). Later, when I emailed the host, thanking her for allowing me into her irreverent enclave, she responded warmly, pointing out that we shared a birthday as well as a back story or two. She told me that I’m going to be alright and she recommended that every day I find as many opportunities as possible to say, ‘I’M A VERY LUCKY GIRL’. (Caps lock is important here).
Turns out I AM THE LUCKIEST GIRL and my birthday provided ample evidence. There was me trying to pretend nothing was going on and yet at every turn I found myself tripping over surprise balloons, the loveliest text messages and the most amazing cards (who knew that dragonflies could spawn their own line in stationery?). If I had been feeling a little stuck in a rut, my gifts reminded me how varied my interests are and how well my friends know me. It turns out that I roll from blister-less running socks, to a chocolate orange (not going to last until Christmas, sorry dad) to a Tommy Atkins (not just a mango, readers, but allegedly the King of Mangoes, carried by hand by my lovely friend all the way back from the shores of Lake Malawi. Top gifting!)
And then came the bookend to a week of blessings I didn’t deserve (but have accepted anyway. Thank you muchly), which was my surprise day in London with my Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter. Just seeing them both would have be present enough, but I’d received very strict orders to be in London for mid morning on Saturday and not to worry.
As we know, usually I like to control the fun, and I am a worry wart, but it is testimony to the changes that are taking place in Mama J, that I find myself strangely thrilled not to be in charge and to have yet another surprise to look forward to. I drive through London confidently, arrive on time and, on the big birthday reveal, promptly burst into tears. Those kids! They rapped this one up with bells on. Only tickets to ‘Hamilton’ folks. Only tickets to the play with the longest waiting list ever. Only tickets to the play that’s been on my bucket list but I’d been too lazy to plan my life two years in advance for. Giddy birthday kipper. Tears of happiness flow.
I don’t know the first think about rap. I didn’t know any more about Hamilton, but I’m a convert to both. (The latter I surely should have known about, being the proud owner of a module in American Studies from Aberystwyth University). Two hours fifty minutes of verbal dexterity and showmanship later (the actors, not me). I’m exhausted.
I’m wondering if my new book clubs pals will consider Mama J honing her new skills at an open mic before the next meeting. I’m thinking:
How does a shy lass, teacher, mother of two and a
live on her own in a
sea front view
learn to be her personal best,
Realise she’s luckiest?
Luckiest Mama J
My name is Mama J
And there are a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait
She’ll just keep on running, straining hard to catch
Blessing family and friends as more time goes by
Wishing health and wealth for all as we try
To let those sleeping dogs lie
A voice saying , J you gotta reach for
You gotta start laughin’, larkin’ and
use your guile
You gotta just let it go, just go enjoy the flow
Just start in slow mo
You’ve got it bro’
Luckiest Mama J
My name is Mama J
And there are a million things I’m about to do
Just you wait, just you wait.
(#apologies to professional rappers)
I’ve downloaded the music from ‘Hamilton’ and parent-sing all the way back up the motorway – apologies to the people at Heston Services, also. There’s a new spring in my step as I attack my Christmas shopping on my return. I’ve got another birthday dinner tomorrow night. This is definitely the longest, LUCKIEST birthday ever and sadly for you folks, I’m not thinking of dropping the mic anytime soon.