While Melanie was home in Australia for a quick 10 day visit we took the opportunity to discuss our lives at the same age as she is now – 30 and a half.
As this picture from mid 1991 shows, I was a mother to three young girls at the age of 30 and a half. Melanie was 8, Sarah 6 and Eliza 3. We had moved to Tumbarumba from Newcastle earlier in the year and had just been informed that Grant had been accepted onto the Teacher Exchange program. This meant that we would spend 1992 living in the small village of Cheddar in the southwest of UK.
This is very significant because Melanie now lives in Cheddar and has done so for the past 7 years. She has made it her home with many friends and a great support network.
Melanie had a gap year in 2002 and worked in the Bath Arms pub in Cheddar, came back for university in Lismore from 2003-2005 and then left for England again in 2006 and has since travelled all over Europe. She met Craig in Cheddar and they have been together for over 6 years.
Melanie had applied for a job with BBC Magazines as a classified sales executive before she left Australia in 2006 as she had worked on the Northern Star paper in Lismore and felt she had some experience in advertising. She arrived, had an interview three days later and started work immediately in December 2006. She has been with them ever since and has worked her way up to being the Senior Advertising Manager on Women’s group, managing hair, wedding and craft portfolios. They have been through a few name changes and are now called Immediate Media. She is well respected, has a lot of responsibility and gets to travel all over UK & Europe with her job. She works long hours and commutes at least 2 hours each day from Cheddar to Bristol.
She is very different to me at that age in that she has no children, she isn’t married, she has a career, she lives a very different lifestyle in a foreign country and has a strong network of friends who support her given that she lives on the other side of the world away from all of her family. Despite this distance Melanie has a very strong sense of family and feels that we are a close knit family despite living a long way away. She has a busy life and takes some ‘me’ time with her on-line business ‘Debbie’s Daughter Photography’, going to see movies, shopping, friends, and enjoying the contact that social media gives her – Facebook, twitter, instagram, blogging and her own website.
This is something that is very different to when I was her age – if you wanted to interact with someone you rang them for a chat, now she can know what’s going on in Tumbarumba before I do, by seeing it on Facebook.
At the same age I was preparing to take our young family to live in England for 12 months with no experience of travelling let alone living on the other side of the world. I sometimes think we were mad at the time! Luckily it all worked for us and we had a great year which has gone on to impact on all the girl’s lives in some way. Melanie obviously felt comfortable in Cheddar all those years ago and it is now her home and our second home.
Melanie is very clever, creative and colourful with a real sense of style. She loves vintage styles and the fashions of earlier times, as evidenced by her 30th vintage party theme. She is an entrepreneur and has always been busy with things on the side; at university she made bead jewellery and sold it on eBay and now she has her own on line photography business.
I, on the other hand, was busy just being a mother and keeping the family together. I didn’t work outside of the family home and had friendships which revolved around the girls, Nursing mothers, playgroup and school. Melanie works hard at maintaining her friendships both in UK and in Tumbarumba and in some ways I think these satisfy her nurturing nature for the moment. Some of her friends have started having babies and I wonder if this will impact on her own plans for a family in some way.
It’s so interesting looking at the differences in our lives and wondering what the future holds. In many ways I feel that I was much older at 30 than she is but now that I’m past that age and responsibility I am feeling more like 30 again myself!
Whatever her future holds, I know she’ll do well at it.