Feelings on the big Four-Oh

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’ll cry if I want to….. ok, I know those aren’t the actual lyrics but the good news is if I do cry, I’ll be crying tears of joy.  I’m not sad about turning 40 at all – instead, I’m grateful I’ve got this far in life without (touch wood) any major illnesses, reasons to want to commit suicide and so on.  Yes, I’ve had setbacks – the worst being losing my mother when she was just 60 years of age after a steady mental and physical decline due to Alzheimer’s – but in a way this has made me more thankful for the life I have today.  For me, the spectre of Alzheimer’s will always loom close by as I wonder if I will be struck by the same fate before I turn 50.  At the same time, however, the birth of my third child just over seven weeks ago has made me more determined than ever to be happy and healthy in order to furnish my children with happy memories of their childhood and to very much live in the moment.

Just before I turned 30 I hinted to my boyfriend (now husband) that I fancied spending my birthday by the sea.  In other words, a weekend away abroad or indeed in the UK in a lovely hotel being spoilt rotten.  In reality, he kindly drove me to Bournemouth for the day.  It was cold.  It rained.  He treated me to chips.  I have to admit I was a bit peeved at the time (and for the next few years afterwards).

When we was young @mangosaul #tbt #30thbirthday

A photo posted by Shilpa Saul (@mustbethemummy) on

Now, as I am about to turn 40, I have reassured my husband on numerous occasions that there is no need to organise a huge surprise party or buy me a ridiculously expensive present.  The difference between 10 years ago and now is vast.  Today I have everything I could ever want – a wonderful, caring, funny, gorgeous husband; an eldest daughter who is also caring and kind, intelligent and sensitive; a middle daughter who is hilarious, bright, creative and assertive and a little son (more on him later) who right now seems pretty chilled and happy to be cuddled by anyone who’ll hold him.  I have a supportive family who rally round when I need them but stay out of my face when I don’t. And a carefully curated selection of girlfriends, most of whom I’ve known for over ten years, who are sparky, clever, funny, strong and kind.

In a surprise twist of fate, I’ve also become part of a #mumsquad since moving to the suburbs of Surrey. A bunch of women who go above and beyond to provide friendship, reassurance and support.  Friends who are available at the drop of a hat if they are needed.  People who, when I decide at the last minute to celebrate the last night of being in my 30s, all make childcare arrangements so they can join me for a glass of champagne at the local pub tonight.

So tomorrow, I’ve briefed the kids to provide me with breakfast in bed. I’ve booked a table at Pizza Express for lunch with my kids, husband, father and aunty and uncle – all the people I love most in the world (apart from my big sis who will be in Paris for part of her own birthday celebrations).  I’ve booked a table at a fancy restaurant for dinner with my husband in the evening.  All in all, I’ve planned a perfect day in the realisations that only I would know what my perfect day would really be.  And tomorrow I’ll be smiling all day.

Happy 40th to me 🙂

The tale of Shilparella and her nasty step-sisters ASOS and UK Mail

Once upon a time there was a not-yet-40-year-old girl called Shilparella who lived in the not-so-posh bit of Surrey.  Shilparella and her #mumsquad had decided that they should all treat themselves to a night out at the PTA Ball; after all, they all toiled night and day to think up plausible excuses as to why their kids had freezer food meals more than once a week and why their husbands had not one crisply ironed shirt hanging in their wardrobes.

The ‘girls’ filled their WhatsApp feed with details on who would be wearing what to the Ball. Shilparella had settled on a dress she’d had for the past ten years when, almost but not quite at the last minute, her Fairy Godmother (aka Gay Husband) suggested she ought to go a bit Strictly.  Alas, with a limited budget Shilparella feared she may end up looking like a drag queen from Bournemouth but was informed that one of her nasty step-sisters – ASOS – would have the perfect outfit at a purse-friendly price.

Feeling a little wary of ASOS, who seemed to only cater for not-yet-20-year-old girls with no money nor any sense of quality or customer service, Shilparella resolved to at least give ASOS a try.  After all, it would be unfair to believe all the rumours she’d heard from her friends who only ever conversed with Whistles.

Later that day, Shilparella ordered a full length, sequinned, navy gown with a split up the side and a low back from ASOS.  She rather fancied she’d look a little bit like one of her girl crushes, Claudia Winkleman.  As the Ball was only a few days away she’d asked that ASOS send the package as a special delivery to arrive between 6pm and 10pm the following evening and paid extra for the privilege.  She needed to make sure Prince Mango of Southall would approve.  And so, Shilparella waited patiently on Thursday 8 October for her parcel to arrive.  She even stayed up past her bedtime just so she could try on her outfit immediately.  Sadly, the minutes and hours passed by and at the stroke of 10 o’clock her dress was nowhere to be found.  Somewhat perturbed, she tweeted ASOS to find out where her parcel may be and wearily took to her bed for some much-needed beauty sleep.

The next morning, Shilparella awoke to a tweet from ASOS…

She carefully typed in her personal information and hit send, hoping to hear some good news soon.  Alas, there was no good news.  Emails and tweets came from ASOS telling Shilparella they’d tried to investigate but couldn’t get any answers from UK Mail, who were responsible for delivering the parcel.  Not one known for her patience, Shilparella decided to speak  to UK Mail directly.  She knew already that no good would come of this but was determined to get her drag queen-eqsue outfit for the PTA event of the year.  UK Mail could not help.  They did not know. Shilparella was stuck in no man’s land…..unsure if it was safe to leave the house lest the delivery should arrive whilst she was out, but at the same time needing to leave the house to take her small monster-child to nursery. More tweets were written and phone calls were made by Shilparella’s fair hands but her nasty step-sisters ASOS and UK Mail foolishly stated they did not have any answers at all. Evidently, they did not know who Shilparella was at all.  Or perhaps they treated all customers in the same terrible fashion. Eventually a message was delivered from Twitter, telling her that her dress would arrive between 6pm and 10pm that evening. Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 22.05.06 Feeling a little more relaxed, Shilparella headed out to take her monster-child to nursery.  As they walked along the pathway, a cheap and ugly looking car(riage) zoomed past and park precariously across the road.  Out came a sloth-type beast brandishing a parcel from ASOS.  “Oh, hello – are you looking for me?” Shilparella cried, somewhat confused as to why the beast had turned up at 12.20pm when he was not expected until much, much later.  “You have a parcel”, he said – not asking for Shilparella’s address or any sort of identification whatsoever.  “Oh great!”, Shilparella exclaimed, “you were supposed to deliver this last night”.  “Yes, I know, but too many parcels.  It got late.  I went home” the sloth-type beast responded in a monotone voice.  Shilparella felt sorry for him and didn’t question him any further.  After all, she was brought up never to shoot the messenger, not even when she was really, really pissed off. Shilparella decided the best thing to do, after leaving the monster-child at nursery, was to tweet ASOS to tell them that they were, in fact, wrong again.  ASOS replied with:

No.  It was not.  It was never going to be ok.  By way of ‘compensation’, ASOS offered Shilparella 10% off her next order.  Shilparella laughed at the sheer audacity of the note and resolved to think no more of the matter and enjoy herself at the Ball with Prince Mango of Southall and her #mumsquad.

The night of the Ball arrived and all was magical.  A carriage from Addison Lee collected Shilparella and her Prince and delivered them safely home by midnight.

The following Monday, Shilparella received another note from her nasty step-sister ASOS; “Just a quick update on your order.  UK Mail have been in contact with the local depo (sic) to look into this for you as soon as they have a response we will be back in touch.  I have tracked your order for you again though and it looks like your parcel was delivered on 9th October at 19.40 and signed for by ‘Granger'”.

At that moment, Shilparella resolved never again to trust ASOS and instead, to stick to her good friend Whistles who understands much better the needs of a not-yet-40-year-old girl.