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I'm a fortysomething mother of two, for heaven's sake. What am I doing dangling by a thin rope, fifty feet up?

I'm not a sporty kind of gal, if truth be known, but I've hankered to do a few things from my personal 'Bucket List' since turning 40, which include surprisingly risky (for me) endeavours. In the last month, I've put a line through two of them: abseiling and surfing -- the latter accounting for the most recent injuries.


Sure, didn't I have my twenties to do mad things, I hear you ask? Well, no. In my twenties I was terrified of anything remotely risky. Taking the lid off a tin can might necessitate a hospital visit. Driving in the city was clearly for the completely mad, or taxi drivers.

My small kids put me off altogether. The idea that I might jump off a mountain, or even climb one, never mind getting in the water for some hazardous pursuit was a sure-fire way of leaving them motherless for life.


Then you reach a point, somewhere on the other side of 40 where it's Now or Never. Me time, if you like. It feels fantastic.

Mind you, it nearly didn't. The abseiling was down an observation tower on Jersey left over by the Germans from World War II. They built them high and strong and it was terrifying, although if truth be told, I could nearly have jumped off the training tower and survived. The ropes and clear air between me and the ground kind of put the frighteners on it somehow.

The surfing was only on foot of "Aw, Mom, come ON" calls from the kids. Feck it -- another scary bridge crossed. A salty, wind-lashed face, a most un-flattering wet suit and black and blue all over from the ferocious Co Clare waves and an encounter with a surprisingly lively surf board, I'm chuffed with myself after two days in surf school.

A generation ago, Irish mammies over 40 were considered to be, if not quite in God's waiting room, than in His no-nonsense kitchen. They were cooks, cleaners and minders of children. They dropped and collected and maybe, had a little job.

I don't know one fortysomething mother who settles for that these days. Women my age are studying for a Masters, writing novels, travelling all over, taking up new hobbies, joining things and having a ball.


And yes, most of us are doing all the other things too. But we're realising that "Me Time" shouldn't just come around when we're collecting the pension. It can be now, even if we have to fit it in like a juggler.

It started during the boom, when it became fashionable (if not absolutely necessary) for women of a certain age to go for girls' weekends to some luxurious spa. Several times a year if possible!

It might only be to gab and gossip, escape the tedium of family life and the humdrum jobs, but it felt good. So, a 'what if' attitude emerged. What if I did some of the things I always said I would but haven't? What if I didn't have any excuses? We egged each other on.

Loads of people want to write a novel, for instance. "If Maeve Binchy can do it ... ", is the usual line. Except Maeve did, and they didn't. One teaching author told me how men set out to write a book: they take a year off work as a sabbatical.

They build a den. They buy the best laptop and they tell everyone they're creating the new War And Peace.


Women put the kids to bed, clean up and sit down to write quietly at 11pm. They never tell anyone what they're doing and are as surprised as anybody when they get published. As Nike says: Just Do It.

As we wended our way past Spanish Point this week, my son piped up: "Ah mom, there's a legend wave. Can we go back?" You know what? I agreed.