Maybe life really does begin at 40…

Looking back at my thirties, I’m kind of glad to leave that decade behind. Those 10 years weren’t much fun to be honest…

Aged 30 and one month, I became a mother. Circumstances were difficult. I was as far away from New Zealand as I could be, living in England. We were down to living on one income. We were the first out of our friends to become parents. They didn’t understand why we couldn’t met in London for an impromptu night out. If we ever did join them, why on earth did we want to leave in time to get the last tube home?? We grew apart. I grew depressed.

When our baby was 3 years old, we decided to move back to New Zealand for a higher quality of life on less income. I pushed for our house to be sold, just before the housing market crash in 2008. A blessing. However, it meant we were homeless for four months so moved in with the in-laws…which ended in tears. My mother-in-law didn’t give me a lot of breathing space, constantly critiquing everything I did, including my parenting skills.

In November 2008 we moved to New Zealand. We had kind of “given up” trying for a second baby by this time; instead I turned my attention to starting a business. Less than 4 weeks after registering my company, I discovered I was pregnant! To give you some background, my body doesn’t do pregnancy so well – the first pregnancy, I ended up being stretchered out from work after mysterious and heavy bleeding. My workplace bathroom looked as though there had been a murder. I was mortified at the thought of having to leave it to my co-workers to clean up, whilst being terrified I was losing my precious baby. So, it was very stressful to say the least when out at networking functions, worrying if any minute was I suddenly going to start bleeding.

After a month renting my brother’s house (the one who isn’t speaking to me any longer), I received a phone call from him to say they (his wife and their twin sons) were also moving back to NZ and we had three weeks to find somewhere else to live. Another house move. Sigh. That would total 4 house moves in 6 months.

And then at 11 weeks pregnant (the same week as my first pregnancy), the bleeding began. Thank goodness I was at home. My helpful 3 year old followed my step-by-step instructions to bring me the phone so I could call the ambulance, my midwife and my father. After a brief stint in hospital they sent me home for bed rest…with a new business and a three year old, that just wasn’t entirely possible.

Then my husband’s parents phoned to say his Grandmother had passed away. We were both devastated by this news. I had never known the love of a grandmother until I met ‘Nan’.

During all of this, we still had to find a house to buy. As luck would have it, one just two doors down came up for sale. We snapped it up. We took on a mortgage with no income which was pretty stressful but by now I had faith in our ability to get through anything…

We moved in, hubby got a job (hoorah!) and I had our second baby in September 2009. What started out as a serene water birth suddenly ended up in a crash caesarean. My second baby was a crier, ‘they’ suspected colic, then silent reflux…there was a myriad of medications, some to be given on an empty stomach, some to be given with a feed. It sounds simple enough but he preferred cluster feeding, making it nigh on impossible to get the right meds in at the right time.

My business fizzled along. Thank goodness for technology! I was able to do a lot online. But it wasn’t getting the attention it required for success. I worked from home a lot but my sister-in-law didn’t respect or understand I was working and would come over every day. When I said something, she was very hurt by it and I ended up receiving an earful from my brother, asking me to be there for his wife, as she knows nobody. I took his request very seriously and took it upon myself to take care of her. (Possibly leading to the resentment I feel today.)

Around this time my drinking started increasing. As I write this, I think, is it any wonder?! I began craving nights out – escape from a failing business, money worries, my overly energetic four year old and my needy, crying baby.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, my brother’s marriage started to fall apart. Remembering and honouring my vow to take care of my SIL, I propped her up for close to 12 months, to the detriment of myself. It was an extremely stressful time. She would be on the phone to me, up to 4 or 5 times a day, to talk about it. And I allowed it. My brother ended up moving out and I literally would drive myself from one person to the other, mediating. Now I look back, it was crazy. I took it upon myself to fix it between them, but it wasn’t my responsibility. It was around this time, my drinking spiralled from binging at the weekends to drinking a few glasses every night. And now, especially since they both hate me, I wish I had honoured my boundaries.

Why do they hate me? To be honest, I’m not sure. I dared to speak up for myself against her when during 2014 she would scorn and criticise my efforts not to drink. In true narcissistic fashion, her response was to “take a step back, because upsetting me was upsetting her”.

Yesterday was my 40th birthday. Neither my brother, nor my SIL sent me a message. I can’t help it, it hurts. She has caused a massive rift in her family, and now mine.

I’m continually having to remind myself forgive and forget. Onwards and upwards. Yes, I’m glad to be leaving my 30’s. The highs from that decade are two wonderful kids and a loving home we have created. But I’m glad to leave the rest of it behind.



6 thoughts on “Maybe life really does begin at 40…

  1. HealthyJenn says:

    Happy birthday to you! Sounds like you have drawn a defining line in the sand and that you are moving into your forties with self -awareness and strength. Stay strong, and stay true to the boundaries you’ve set for yourself and your family…one of the best things about being alcohol free (for me) is that I am slowly becoming the strong, calm, sensible, wise leader that my family really needs…stay strong 🙂
    Happy Happy Birthday!


  2. Mrs D says:

    they’ll have a whole dialogue and perspective at odds with yours, nothing can be done about that. What I love is that you are starting to get your own head clear on things, imagine if that hadn’t happened…? You could still be embroiled in their lives aged 60! you should hold your head up high, you’ve been a good sister and sister-in-law, you chose to put the energy in to them that you did and you should have no regrets, at the time it felt right, now you’re in a different space, they’re freaking out, you are doing something brave and amazing (I know I say that a lot but it’s true), and life is long and a new normal will settle down. Let them be in their hurt and whatever-the-fuck-it-is they’re in and you just continue on your true path which is awesomely awesome! xxxxx


    • Water Girl NZ says:

      Yes, my head is clearing, thank God! I’m putting a lot of work into…I’m not sure how to put it, but into not hating them. Not allowing it to get me down, like it was. Bewilderment is taking over, they’re behaving worse than high schoolers. I’ve never known such petty, pathetic behaviour – from anybody of any age! My two boys, aged 9 and 5 have more emotional intelligence than they do. Tonight, I’m finding it somewhat laughable really.
      Writing it all down is helping so, so much!
      Thanks Mrs D xo


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