• Stephanie Hammond

When I grow up ...

When it first came out, I really identified with Michelle Shocked’s song “When I grow up I wanna be an old woman”. It reminded me of an experience I had when I was about 18 or 19. I was visiting an old woman - she could have been my age now. Certainly she was a lot older than I was. She was such a grumpy old thing. Kind to me, but grumpy about her fellow inmates in the ‘old folks home’. She was furious with one of them, swearing she’d touched a soft koala I’d given her. I thought about her a lot over the next few weeks and couldn’t think what I could do to help her be different.

Then the thought came to me that it’s not my job to change her - or anyone. All I can do is change myself. I wasn’t happy with that thought at all. Then I picked up a magazine and I read this:

If you want to be known as a sweet old woman, start now!

Wow! Did that make an impact on me. I realised I was worried that I’d be like her when I got old. This quote had served as a reminder over the years. I forgot it periodically and something would remind me. Like the time I looked at my mother-in-law who was such a miserable woman and said to myself: “If I ever live to be 50 I hope they take me out and shoot me!”

Why I thought I had to become like the people around me, I don’t know. But these two experiences have been my motivation. When I turned 50, I was so thrilled with life. My 50s were the best decade of my life until then. I was interested in life, had amazing friends, loved tramping in the outdoors, and was living the life of my dreams. I was so glad that no-one remembered my wish when my mother-in-law was 50!

But the other? Will I ever be known as a “sweet old woman”? I guess that the time has come to reflect on that question. First, what is ‘old’? I’m now 70 and I do wonder on the odd occasion what do people think of me, if they think of me at all.

Do they think of me as a ‘sweet old woman’? Honestly, I don’t think so. But what I do think is that they don’t think of me as the bitter old woman I had the fortune to befriend when I was a teenager.

Luckily I have a long time ahead of me to fulfil this directive. At 70, I think of myself as being middle aged. Not an old woman. I’m a woman with many years of life left and I want to live life to the full. I’m still working towards being known as a sweet old woman. Every now and then I think I need to recommit to that goal. I’m heartened to think that I’ve got another 70 years ahead to hear someone say to speak of me as a sweet old woman.

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Last Days in Atlantis. (Historical fantasy - for young adult+ audience)

Mari is thrust into a position of responsibility as the warrior leader of the Atlantean Hill People before she's ready. She strives to make choices that are best for her and her people against a backdrop of deception and intrigue. She becomes entangled in the power struggles between her people and the rulers of the City of the Golden Gates. 

Events test her trust in the traditions of her people and her confidence in those who are dear to her: the Elders, her mother, and the young man she is expected to share her future with.  Mari believes she has failed the task and struggles to overcome her feelings of grief, guilt, and betrayal as she strives to survive the tumult around her. 

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This is the first of my children's stories about Beatrice, a young angel-in-training with one large wing. Beatrice Learns Compassion, offering a different approach to bullying, was illustrated by my granddaughter, Bella, when she was 10-years-old. It's suited to children of all ages.

The Kindle version is available from Amazon. Print copies are available to purchase through the contact page