Here I am, 35.
In the past week alone, I have:
1) Been to Dublin for three days;
2) Caught the worst strain of flu I have had in about 20 years;
3) Spent a weekend in Surrey, plucking wild black berries from bushes and recovering from flu and old age among England's greenest hills.
I set off for a conference in Ireland last week, and managed to contract something on the plane or thereabouts, but it kind of lay dormant in my body for a few days. Stealth-mode.
No sniffles. No endless shoelaces of snot, no anything feral basically.
I just felt like my body decided to stop working. I was more tired that the tiredest motherfucker on Earth, and staying awake past 9:00pm was nothing short of an ordeal.
You know what conference weeks are like. Or maybe you don't. There are sessions and bags and bags of crisps, lots of small talk, and binge drinking into the late hours. You usually rip the ring out of a conference.
Well I was having none of that. While Dublin promised to be a short break away from the grind of work and being a mum, I ended up just yearning for more sleep on the trip. I didn't tear it out of Dublin; and it certainly didn't rip me a new one either.
On returning, the virus within me decided to awaken, and with it, bought an unprecedented amount of physical aching of every joint in every bone in my body. You know the type. Or maybe you don't. Where your fingernails ache. Your back. Your legs. Your eyeballs. Paracetamol only just takes the edge off. One minute you're on fire, the next you're so cold you wonder whether it's possibly to die of hypothermia while encased in cashmere blankets in an otherwise temperate setting.
And when you have a toddler who likes to climb all over you, or shove a book into your face or pound your head with a truck first thing in the morning, well, you really do wonder if you might actually die.
Now, my husband has it and is lying in bed pretty much reading the verse "As I walked through the valley of the shadow of death," because when men get sick, it's 1 000 times worse than when women do, and I am at work catching up, but also now feels like my entire chest cavity has caved in on itself and I am having trouble breathing.
Worst flu ever? This has to be some fucked up animal strain, surely. Porcine. Or Bovine. Way too weak for Avian.
So enough about that.
It was good to get away. Just to recover, sleep and do some country walks.
Pictorially, this is how we spent my birthday weekend:
The next minute he is giggling and lovable and saying "mum-may" and "duck" and "woof" and running with his little bandy legs everywhere, it's hard to imagine that he was writhing about red-faced and having a shit fit just a few moments before.
His moods go from happy to pissed all day. Our little baby has officially become a Twonager. A new chapter, a new ride of emotions.
Sheep. We looked at some.
Boys playing the fool.
Watching baby piglets feed.
Feeding the goats.
Our hotel was near Dorking, a cute little town in Surrey filled with antiques shops and cosy coffee places.
From the top of Box Hill, overlooking the Surrey Hills.
We dragged our toddler over hill and dale. Eating apples and black berries from wild trees and bushes along the way.
A shepherd's hut. A vintage 'must have' in the English countryside.
Legging it up winding roads.
Our hotel for the weekend.
And, back to concentrating on not being depressed about being middle-aged.