When I Grow Up

Saturday night we went to a 50th birthday party.  Scarily, it is not the first 50th we have been to, but I am happy to say we are both quite a way off celebrating our own!

It seems to me that there is a big difference to the parties we attended in our 30’s, to the ones we now attend for the 40’s and 50’s. Parties in the our 30’s, seemed to always be black tie affairs.  Very proper and stylish, with much glamour and pretence of grown up behaviour… made more pronounced because we mostly had small children and mayhem and distraction in our day-to-day lives.  Parties minus our little people gave us the chance to act like we were in control of our lives and that it actually wasn’t these little people who were running the show!

Parties in our 40’s and now these scary 50’s ones are anything but serious!  They seem to fill in the humour that is often missing with the seriousness of age and mortgages, businesses, teenagers, aging parents and general stresses of life after 40.

We have been to a “Crazy Hair, Glamour Wear” party, a “Come as what you wanted to be…” party, eg Rock Chick, Bikie, Nun etc, a “Jeans only”, low-key number and last night the theme was “School Days”.

Such fun and an amazing insight into how many people hold onto memories not just mentally but materially!!  At least 70 % of the party (about 50 or so people) actually wore their own school uniforms!!  A great display of ‘hoarding’ tendencies but what impressed me the most was that most people still fit theirs!!  Some were a little tight in areas they were not meant to be but at least they were partly buttoned up!!  My school uniform has ‘disappeared” according to my Mum…funny that, after 25 years, but I am pretty sure I would have still fitted it which is a good feeling!!  I do still have my tie and I very proudly wore that (with a white shirt and jeans).

Dude did his last year of school in Scotland, at an exclusive boarding school on  central  moors of Scotland, Rannoch College.  His dress uniform, for sunday mass and formal occasions was a kilt of his family tartan, MacDonald of Clanranald. A kilt that is brought out for all parties and formal occasions to this day…and Yes, he still fits it!

It was a fun night and quite  hilarious to reminisce with a few  stories from our school days, but I realised on the way home (early…such party animals!)  that I am so grateful those school days are over. I bordered on being shy at school; underconfident, anxious to fit in,  anxious to not stand out. Typical schoolgirl tendencies I guess.  Good at english, history and art but I had to work hard in everything else…which I did, because I loved school work and wanted to do well.  Problem was…I had no idea what I wanted to be or do when I left school.

I had wanted to be a vet up until year 10,  but my maths was SOOOO bad, I was told to drop that idea by my teachers.  I am so thankful that Bel has teachers that are encouraging and have her best interests at heart instead of being dismissive of what she wants to do.  Yes, my maths did rule out Vet Science but with the right advice, maybe Vet Nursing could have been an option.   How glad I am that teaching techniques  have changed and my girls will receive more help and guidance than was available in my day.

Art was not considered as a career option to me. It’s not that my parents would have discouraged it if that was what I had wanted whole heartedly to do, but it was just not something that seemed a career and  I actually didn’t enjoy year 12 art…it was boring, a real slog. I did ok but never excelled. So art didn’t even get a look in.

After 2 months at university, age 17, studying social science, anthropology and archeology; totally overwhelmed by the size of the campus, the amount of people and tutorials – I dropped out.  I had no idea what I wanted, but I did know that uni was not it.

I played around with writing in my 20’s – inspired by the children’s books I was surrounded by whilst working as a Nanny in the UK.  A little seed was planted to write children’s stories and to illustrate them, but it was just a pipe dream, a bit of a muse during the long cold evenings of a UK winter.

Armed with  a beautifully boxed watercolour set (which I still own and use 20 years later),   a gift from the family I worked for, I resumed my life back in Perth.

It was not until I met Dude a few years later and we married, that I rediscovered this quiet, little wish.  Dude applied to art college on my behalf and it was only after a phone call asking to see my portfolio, that I was even aware he did this.  The rest, we will say is history.

I had only a year of art college, where they tried hard to rid me of my desire to be a children’s illustrator before I left to be a full-time mummy.  I have never looked back; finally I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up…a Mum or more specifically, a Mum that draws and paints.

For 15 years now, I have been a Mum.  For 10 years of that time, I focused on children’s illustration…but never quite crossing that elusive threshold of being picked up by a publisher.  Yes, I did come fairly close, but at the cost of being burnt out,  irritated by drawing and defensive about my skills and abilities…because I felt like a failure.

Back to the drawing board, literally.  Time for a change, time to try something new.  Time to try painting and not with my watercolour set.  I was hooked.  Acrylics, not oils, young kids and all that.  The painting’s above were my first two canvas’ not done in art college.

Nearly 6 years on…and look where I am! My Mia’s Art.  Painting in oils for the last 3 or so year and having done a full circle to rediscover my joy of writing.  Initially writing again to help with my art but finding that it has become more than that.  It has become  a new-found means of diarising my art and motherhood journey.  A means of thinking about more than art and housework and school events and the general humdrum of a busy life with kids.

I realise now, I have worked out what I want to do when I grow up…and I’m living it!

Not only that…I have three pets – I am Vet nursing!  Lack of maths and all!!

x Mia

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