At the moment, I get two hours to myself every week-this is on a Friday when the eldest child is at nursery, and the youngest is having a nap. When he is asleep, I usually do a tiny freedom dance, before trying to prioritise what needs to be done first, usually before falling asleep and doing nothing. Come September, the littlest will be joining the eldest, in what I jokingly named Freedom Fridays, a name which has now stuck. Even more excitingly, we have had confirmation that they will both now be able to attend all day on a Monday too, in what I immediately named March Forth And Be Free Mondays (admittedly not as catchy as Freedom Fridays, but now it’s kind of stuck too.)
I’ve been delirious with excitement over this upcoming freedom, because apart from the odd night out here and there, or an hour or two during the daytime when my mum has babysat so that I could (mostly) run errands, I haven’t had a whole day, just to do what I want, in 3&1/2 years. Instead of a mini freedom dance on these nursery days, I have imagined that I will be fully Mel Gibsoning the shit out of the day, dropping the children off, and running around screaming ‘FREEDOM’ in random stranger’s faces, and generally Bravehearting my way through the day, terrible Scottish accent and all. I’ve been having all kinds of wild musings and daydreams over how I’m going to spend this new found freedom, mostly including the following:
1. Training my body to poo only on a Monday and Friday. It has been an ongoing dream of mine to poo without someone screaming to be held/fed (in the beginning,) to more recently, having a running commentary: ‘Can I see it mummy? Is it massive mummy? If we take it out of the toilet mummy, will it reach the sky? Squeeze it out mummy, squeeze it out.’ Yes, the amusement factor of these conversations has declined at an alarming rate recently.
2. Putting some trashy magazines in the toilet to read while I’m doing my uninterrupted poos.
3. Having a bath that lasts long enough for my skin to go wrinkly.
4. Having a bath that I’ve had time to clean properly beforehand, so that I’m not constantly worried that the little brown thing by my elbow isn’t part of a rogue fleet of excrement deposits, trying to find its way back to the mothership that one of the children left as a poopy present.
5. Drinking all day.
6. Reading an actual book.
7. Long, laid back lunches with the people I’ve attempted lunch with for the last few years, only to have all of us be distracted by our children, and only managing to throw a few flustered words at each other before giving up and going home. Cue, we have repeated this at least once a week for the last 3&1/2 years.
(On my phone, enjoying a lone poo)
However, as September creeps towards me at alarming speed, my delirium has started to be overtaken by classic symptoms that have pretty much defined my entire motherhood experience: Panic, and Guilt. Sending the children away for two whole days now seems really selfish, and I’m wondering if I’m doing it for all the wrong reasons. I’ve been really struggling with being a SAHM recently. I’ve felt impatient and angry, and my mood seems to have taken a huge decline. I’m frustrated that I can never get anything done, and the lack of personal space has been making me claustrophobic and panicky-but these are all things that now seem all kinds of wrong, when said out loud.
My children are still at an age where they need me-they need me constantly. Soon, they won’t need me, so shouldn’t I really just be sucking it up, and putting the need for some time and space to myself on hold? I only have two years, then they will both be at school. Surely I have no right to be angry at them for just being children, and I should be grateful that they follow me everywhere, refuse to play on their own, and scream at the top of their voices if I should even leave the room for a split second. It’s what I always wanted-I needed to be needed, I’m sure, deep down in my slightly damaged psyche, I’d probably admit under hypnosis that it’s probably the reason I had them. To now push them away seems flippant.
As a mother, isn’t this what I’ve signed up for? If you give up your job to look after your children, don’t you, well, stay at home and look after them? I know that I set my expectations of being a mum too high, and have been sporting my Dunce hat over what I thought it’d be, to the shocking reality. In my head, it was going to be all Fairy Gardens and adventures, long snoozes in bed together, all at the same time, and constant sloppy kisses. It’s taken me the best part of the last 3&1/2 years to come to terms with the fact that this would never be a reality, and drop my expectations through the floor. I walk around feeling like a constant failure as it is, but guilt and shame are now making me feel even more of a failure because not only have I let go of most of my motherhood dreams, I’m now going to fail at staying at home to look after my children, because someone else will be doing it for two days.
(Not the crafts and home baked bread I was hoping for…)
I have all these feelings that I’m battling with-Reason tries to fight Panic and Guilt by telling me that if I have a break and some headspace, I’ll be a much better mum on the days I do have the children. Reason says that they may love nursery, skipping in there with a ‘thank f**k for that, finally someone different to that knob,’ at the same time I’m maniacally screaming FREEDOM to random strangers. There’s also the reality of what I’ll actually be doing when they’re at nursery, which is actually nothing from the above list, and will most likely include:
1. Sorting out my tip of a house, which for the last few years, has had any mess laying around, thrown into the nearest cupboard when we have visitors. There is no more space, and the cupboards are groaning under the strain…
2. Making most of the house fit for human habitation… Like I said-there’s been no time to do ANYTHING…!
3. Not having lazy lunches with friends, because none of us will be child free on the same day.
4. Just doing a quick poo because so much else needs doing.
5. Not drinking all day, because picking the children up half cut will make me look like a terrible parent.
6. Initially, the reasoning behind the two days in nursery was so that I could retrain, ready for re-employment when the children are both at school, only problem with that is that I still do not have a CLUE what I want to do with my life…
(Errr, or not, as the case may be…!)
Reason also tells me that I’m possibly over thinking the whole thing, and to just go with the flow… Wish me luck for September!