I woke up this morning with a whitehead zit on my lip (yes, my lip) and a tiny black (yes, black and I'm blonde) chin hair - both were immediately squeezed and plucked.
Forty. The commencement of the fifth decade and the entry into the era of infertility, increased risk of fragility, no more upward mobility yet greater irritability and I hadn't even climbed out of bed yet.
Sapphire bounded in, all cosy and cuddly in her purple towelling dressing gown and eager to hand over her home-made card and gifts. "Chocolates just for you Mum, you don't have to share and a card that I bought - sorry about that - but I put my own drawing of our family inside. Sorry again that you look a bit fat in the drawing it's not true but was a mistake because you're not fat but that's how you came out and I couldn't rub it out because it was done in texta and look I've done Skipper the rabbit with his little disapproving mouth looking up but that's not because he doesn't like you or this card, it's because it's always shaped like that. Oh and here's the mobile phone holder that I crocheted at school last week...."
I look at her, as I do every morning when I clap my eyes on her for the first time that day with absolute wonderment at her beauty, kindness and eagerness to share her love with me. Being forty now, surely it will be time for me to lose my petty concerns about weight gain, spider veins and discovering that the real reason why my largeish bum isn't as sticky-out anymore isn't because I'm a really fast and frequent runner but because the lure of gravity has pulled it downwards where both cheeks are now resting quite happily behind the backs of my knees......
I still consider myself a girl inside, not a mature woman or someone now finished her youthful ascent up the mountain and being forcefully prepared to descend down the other side.
Yes, there are wrinkles when I smile, the tendency to automatically go "Ooff" when I get up off the lounge and those foo-doo-ba-dahs under my arms when I wave people goodbye but I can also still sing Hector the Cat's road safety song (word for word) from 1974 to an appreciative Sapphire in 2008, make an impressive batch of home made donuts with only ten minutes' notice
.......and still, at two hundred and eight dog years of age, feel a bit excited when I wake up because it's my birthday and I feel a little bit special. And still want to hold Love Chunk's hand as we walk along the street together, off for a good coffee and some lunch. And look at his twinkling blue eyes as he laughs at my still-childlike joy in people watching, goofing off and making rude remarks about the two lurid German sausages he ordered.
And, as I keep telling myself, what's so bad about getting old? I'll be able to join Milly in taking frequent rests when the mood or arthritis compels her:
There's plenty of room in the back of this kind of bike for the stash of chocolates I'll still be consuming in my pre-menopausal, post-menopausal, senior and twilight years. And today was merely the start of a chocojourney that'll keep continuing - a gift tin of Haigh's, a box of Guylian, a visit and selection of no less than thirty hand made chocolates from No5 in Hahndorf, several bags of factory-directs from Melba's and, after picking up Sapphire from school, a faceful of Cibo's chocolate gelato in Norwood.
And, if my luck continues to hold out, I'll share them all with Love Chunks and Sapphire.