Aged nearly 35, with my youngest daughter turning seven tomorrow, it hasn't escaped my notice that many of my other friends from uni are embarking on their first pregnancy. And it's sparked something of an existential crisis. Did I do the right thing, having my first baby at 24? Some days, I think perhaps I might have jumped the gun.
This morning was one of them. Getting two kids out the door for school so I can get to work on time has always been a challenge, not least since we acquired two dogs, and I compressed my working hours to accommodate three shorter days. Finally, I can eek out a few school pick-ups a week out of children's last years of primary education, where previously, I had juggled clubs and a rolling line of childcarers younger - and thus cheaper - than me.
While none of this has been ideal - perhaps only a Norland nanny and a place at Stowe would satisfy any mother's urge to do the absolute best for her child - it's also been mostly fine. The kids got used to change, learned to cope with other's people's expectations and realised I had other important shit to do, while I outsourced some of the trickier years to people who were both enthusiastic and recompensed for their efforts. But it didn't stop it being a tough journey building a career with kids in tow, while a lot of my friends were working their way up the ladder, or out having fun.
Instead, I sometimes felt between a rock and a hard place, barely able to keep up with everyone's demands of me, either in the workplace, socially, or at home. It took years to find a balance, one where I was able to afford to give my children time - and still have time and money left over for myself. It was an uphill struggle, and one where I finally feel I'm finally on more level ground.
So why has it made me feel so queasy, now my friends are suffering morning sickness? Is it because I feel I may have short-changed my own children doing everything when I was so much younger, and less well established, or harmed my career by having to take a more meandering route. Perhaps.
Perhaps it's also that I sometimes felt unsupported, though some of the friends now having children were also my kid's biggest champions. Perhaps it's because I worry that I'll be wanting to go for cocktails with my newly freed up schedule and best-of-both worlds working hours, while they'll be settling down for C-Beebies and the bedtime hour. Perhaps I feel short changed that they will return to jobs where, in positions of greater power than I was, they'll have more say about their hours, and more ability to create childcare solutions that leave them less harassed.
But the fact is, it doesn't really matter when you have a child. It's always going to be disruptive to life as you know it, and what I may have lost out on in flexibility, I certainly made up for by doing it while I was cheap. And so, 10 years into motherhood, with my career more or less where it might have been otherwise, I'm looking forward to catching up with all my old uni friends next weekend, near Bristol where we all met exactly years 15 years ago.
While they are managing morning sickness and lamenting their lack of routines, I'm planning on a night on the town with the ones who haven't got there yet, (by which I mean parenthood, of course, if they choose to go there at all) followed by a fun day out at Longleat Safari park with my two tweens. Whichever way you look at it, and whenever you take the plunge, parenthood's a steep learning curve, but once you're over the hump, it's a lot of fun on the other side.