FLYING down the slide into the ball pond, I tried to control my giggles.
Determined not to lose the game of hide and seek, I sank lower into the brightly coloured balls, making sure I wasn’t spotted by the birthday boys.
But this wasn’t a kids’ party – there were cocktails rather than juice, and the sun had set hours before we headed to the adult soft play to celebrate two incredible men in my life – my eldest son and my amazing boyfriend, who’d both turned 21.
I married my first husband in 2003, when I was 23.
He was my childhood sweetheart and we’d met when we were both 15. We divorced after six years, by which point I was a mum to three boys, now 21, 19 and 18.
It was only when I started dating again at the age of 30 that I admitted to myself what I’d suspected for ages – I wasn’t attracted to guys my own age or older.
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My friends had all gone for older men, won over by their maturity and money. But when guys chatted me up, I just saw boring men who were already losing their hair.
Then, in 2010, a guy liked my picture on Facebook. At 24, he was six years younger than me, and I was instantly drawn to his up-for-it attitude and energy.
We went on to have two sons together, now 14 and 13, before marrying in February 2013. Our daughter, now nine, was born in July 2014, but by the following year we had divorced.
The breakdown of our marriage wasn’t caused by our age gap, and it didn’t put me off younger men. I loved the energy they had – they always seemed so effervescent and had an adventurous spirit I found very desirable.
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So I carried on dating younger men, and in July 2022 I saw that a gorgeous young guy called Byron had swiped right for me on Tinder.
He hadn’t listed his age, but that didn’t matter. He knew mine, because I had it showing publicly – I celebrated it and wasn’t ashamed of being 42.
In fact, I’d learned that for lots of young men, it was a reason why they were attracted to me.
Byron was a dad to a one-year-old daughter, he had his own place and worked hard as a plumber, so I knew he was responsible. But he also had such incredible, youthful energy.
Three weeks after first making contact, we had Sunday lunch with his daughter at his house, and he was just as gorgeous in real life.
When we said goodbye with a wave, I didn’t know if he liked me, and our second date at a street-food festival with both of our daughters ended with an unbelievably awkward hug.
On our third date, this time on the beach without any children, his phone pinged with a message from his mum asking how it was going.
It turned out he’d told her everything about me! That’s when I asked how old he was.
Hearing he was 20, I felt a wave of panic. He was the same age as my eldest son – they even had their birthdays during the same week.
For the next week, I couldn’t help questioning if the age gap was too big.
He was thrilled
But Byron was so handsome, kind and fun, what did it matter if there were 22 years between us? When I told him I wanted us to be together, he was thrilled.
My sons were amazing from the start. I didn’t have any nerves about them meeting Byron, even once we realised he’d been at college with my son. Thankfully, they got on brilliantly, though my mum wasn’t so easy.
A month into our relationship, I went on a girls’ trip and Byron stayed at my house.
Mum, who knew nothing about him, came to drop something off and found him asleep in my bed.
The poor guy woke up to her asking who he was!
She wasn’t happy and couldn’t understand why I kept going for younger men. But he won her over and soon she was telling me what a lovely guy he was.
I was nervous about meeting his mum in October 2022, especially as we’re the same age.
I wanted her to see the real me and to understand I only wanted good things for her son. I was so relieved that she liked me.
Since then we’ve been having a blast. When you’re with a younger guy, you don’t have to be “sensible” just because that’s how society expects a 40-something mother to behave.
We drew up a bucket list of adventures and immediately started ticking them off.
We ran a 10k race together, climbed a mountain, went clubbing in Ibiza and celebrated our one-year anniversary in Portugal. I don’t think about our ages – we are just two people in love with life and each other.
If strangers have a problem with the age gap, we don’t care. We’ve laughed it off when people thought Byron was my son or assumed that I’m his daughter’s grandma.
His energy and enthusiasm are endless – in and out of the bedroom – and that gives me a boost. I do have moments when I think I look old, but Byron constantly tells me how beautiful I am.
When I worry younger women could be sliding into his DMs, he looks baffled, saying no one is as sexy.
We moved in together in May, and we’ve talked about having children, but are happy with the wonderful kids we have.
He constantly asks me to marry him, though having walked down the aisle before, I’m in no hurry. Things are amazing just as they are.
Like Emma Wills says, a young man keeps you young. When it comes to love, age is just a number.
BYRON SAYS: “The second we matched on Tinder, I dropped my work tools in excitement. I couldn’t believe this stunning woman had swiped right for me. I’d never been with an older woman, but when we started talking, our connection was amazing.
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"Being a dad at 19 made me more mature, and Trish was so youthful, so it was like we were meeting in the middle. I know people comment when they see us, but I don’t care.
"Trish is the most incredible, sexy woman. She’s broadened my horizons and makes me happy. I’m just so lucky to have her in my life.”
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