I’m not going to lie – today (Saturday) has been a tough one. I’ve been on my own with the kids (more or less – I had about 50 minutes off to run to Sainsburys in the middle!) for the whole of 12 hours (Hubster on late shifts). Some of my blogging friends met up for a fun lunch out in London today.
It was dry but mostly cloudy and cold out. I took them to a child-friendly pub for pancakes and syrup and some fun in the outdoor play zone in the morning. They were happy there for an hour and a quarter. After that things went somewhat downhill. I ended the day in tears feeling like I had shouted too much, not been mindful enough, let anger and disappointment and lonliness get the better of me.
They comforted me. JJ told me that I was the best mum in the world and I think, bless him, that he actually meant it. He told me in no uncertain terms not to cry, and they both gave me lovely hugs and kisses. It shouldn’t be that way round, I know, and yet it was the one thing (other than reminding myself how lucky I am, that the days are long but the years are short, that this too shall pass, that it’s just another ‘first world problem’, that I should stop pitying myself as I have so very many things to be grateful and happy about) that put the brakes on my emotional roller coaster ride.
Sometimes I feel like parenthood is a bit like an alternate reality that we step into from our ‘normal’ lives. Obviously I don’t know for sure because I haven’t had a chance to visit the future yet, but I’m thinking that gradually, little by little, year on year, that division between the two realities begins to blur until you have a sense of being back on terra firma again.
Oh sure we build a world for ourselves which fits in nappy changes and toddler wrangling, school runs and homework, with nursery rhymes and the Octonauts theme tune as the soundtrack to our lives, but it’s so very different to what went before. Of course people love being parents, of course they enjoy the experiences it brings, and then again everyone is different and everyone’s children and family set-ups are different.
On a good day? It can feel like ‘having it all’ – those surges of love that keep you buoyant, moments of ‘me’ time that keep you grounded, connections with other parents which make you feel normal and re-connections with old friends that remind you that you were someone in your own right before the subtle knife sliced through to the world you now inhabit.
And what of the childless? The child-free? I sometimes view that world through such rose-tinted spectacles, as if no-one on that side of the invisible curtain has any worries or problems or hard times. Not the case – so very clearly not the case. And what I have, at the end of my ‘bad’ day is not so bad after all – cuddles, kisses, a picture of a flower painted with love. I will go to bed early, I will not wake with a hangover and tomorrow is another day.