I've been thinking a lot this week about the paths not taken. About the dreams you have in childhood that just seem to be washed away by the years. About the dreams I had. Dreams that a few years ago, I might have still harboured some faint hope that some chance encounter would lead to fruition. But dreams which now, I have to confess, are gone. And that I don't really miss. Because that's the advantage of parenthood. I don't need dreams. I have three little girls whose dreams are still out there. Whose dreams I can help make true.
Wow, I really have come over all philosophical haven't I? No, not philosophical. Weird. Rereading that first paragraph, I feel like maybe I might be channelling Oprah. Oh dear. Apologies, but it wasn't me, it was Les Misèrables.
In a very rare occurrence this week, I went to the cinema. I used to go all the time, but three small children have meant that for the past three years, the closest I've got to culture is singing: 'Use your hands for turning, turning, turning, turning, clapping, clapping, up, down,' along with the Little Einsteins to Brandenburg Concerto No 5. (Honestly, that piece is ruined for me now. And Eine Kleine Nacht Musik. I love balloons, I love, I love balloons...) Anyway, for some important things, I make an effort. Important things like musicals.
I love musicals. Hollywood, Broadway, Gene Kelly, Doris Day... Love them. While I lived in London, I was lucky enough to see a few incredible shows. Guys and Dolls had me actually bouncing up and down in my seat, partly out of excitement, partly in an effort to stop myself running onto that stage. In another life, I would have been up there. OK, so it's a life where I am infinity more talented, but oh, it would have been fabulous. My real love is dance, but sometimes, just the idea of being up there on stage is enough to carry me away, acting or singing, Ophelia or Adelaide, or Eponine...
As my mum and I joined in the spontaneous applause as the closing credits rolled, we could barely look at each other. Mum scrambled for tissues as we both fell apart. Les Mis was fabulous. We spent half the time crying, the other half fiercely planning revolution. Well, not a whole half. Because there was a little part of me also remembering the dream. I would have loved to have been up there, Dreaming a Dream, or being On My Own... But whereas the 25-year-old me might have imagined stumbling into an audition and being discovered, the 35-year-old mum-of-three lives slightly closer to the real world. It ain't happening. But it's not just me. This realisation comes to us all.
While watching the cricket the other day (well, he was, I was probably removing my own eyes with a pencil to avoid having to watch), my husband turned to me and sighed: 'I think it's time to announce my retirement from international cricket,' he confessed. 'Probably not going to get that call-up from Roy Hodgson now either.' I think his recent 37th birthday (and the fact he is an accountant and not a decorated England sporting star) has brought to the same epiphany that I've had. We've had our shot. It's the kids' turn to dream now. And truth is, I wouldn't swap my average stay-at-home mum life for even the most glittering of West End careers. I have a gorgeous husband, three beautiful children, a lovely home and a life I love.
All three girls are already showing an interest in dance, and if that turns out to be their dream too, then I'll do everything I can to help them. But if it doesn't that's fine too, because it isn't about my dreams any more, it's about theirs. Unless of course, we can find a way for their careers to make me famous enough by association to get invited onto Strictly... Well, a girl can dream...