Yesterday morning I had a lie in. My husband got up and gave Catrin breakfast and did some cleaning while I lay in bed with a snoozing, snuffly baby snoring away on my belly. I was grateful for the chance to rest until just after 8am when the request came from Bethan for more breakfast and the vacuum cleaner was brought into play.
My husband has taken up running recently and has started to really enjoy himself. Yesterday he ran 12k through the countryside to a small village where I collected him in the car. Just before he left I checked the Met Office rain forecast, which was clear of anything ominous. Less than five minutes after he started running the heavens opened and torrential rain sent a raging torrent of muddy water down the road…it ran almost as fast as I did when I dashed into the garden to take the sodden washing off the washing line.
I took towels with me and was expecting grumpiness when I collected him but, instead, found a very soggy but very proud and happy husband. Despite the slight nipple chafing and water damaged phone he had enjoyed his run in the rain and said that he liked running alone and being able to zone out the rest of the world as he ran.
I realised that this is what I also need.
I can never completely zone out. I am on call to my children 24/7. I don’t even get a solitary moment when I go to the loo these days. I had hobbies before being a mum and I desperately want to get back to some of them but I don’t know how or when I will be able to. I start work again in a couple of weeks and I can honestly say that during the whole of my maternity leave I have had maybe a couple of hours of ‘me time’ when I have been by myself doing what I want to do. Family members and friends have looked after the girls on occasions but I haven’t been alone with my own thoughts save for the brief time I have spent doing exercises late at night when everyone is in bed, one trip to a hairdresser and a couple of thrilling visits to a supermarket to buy food while my husband stayed in the car with our daughters. I read an article yesterday about a stay-at-home parent needing a break (this article: http://www.bellybelly.com.au/men/giving-mum-a-break-what-she-wants-and-why-she-needs-it-so-much#.U7FUqJa9LCQ), it sums up how I feel. I love my kids but most of the time I feel like Bethan’s and Catrin’s mum, rather than Erica.
My husband was ordered by Catrin to build another Duplo tower last night (complete with incarcerated pirates inside it). She aggressively micromanaged him and neglected his right to reasonable working conditions until he requested to speak with the union rep. Unfortunately the union rep. (a Lego builder figure) was on the naughty step following an earlier altercation with a Lego pirate. The naughty step was actually quite crowded…a stuffed frog was also there after having done a Suarez by biting Upsy Daisy’s fingers. When the tower was finally as big as Daddy, site manager Catrin surveyed it indignantly “No! I wanted it as big as Mummy! Not as big as Daddy!” Daddy took a deep breath and altered the height of the tower. He took an even deeper breath when she knocked it over and ordered him to build it again while repeating her mantra, “I am NOT tired!”.
So I hesitated to air my thoughts about needing time alone for a break as my husband also bears a fair whack of Catrin’s whims and Bethan’s spectacular nappies, as well as working long hours and I did not wish to belittle that. I also accept that I am a mum and I come way down the list of my own priorities these days.
But that doesn’t stop me wanting to be selfish occasionally. That doesn’t make me a bad mum. I think it makes me a normal human being…so, on reflection, I won’t be ashamed to want ‘me time’ every now and then. And just acknowledging that makes me feel better about it.