A Day Not Being Mum.
The other weekend I had the opportunity to see an old friend. She lives in Nottingham, I live in Kent, so we don’t often get the chance. However, we were both horrified and appalled to realise it had been two years since we’d met up in person. Two. Years.
This year marks our 13th year as friends. It’s funny, you wouldn’t expect a long distance relationship to survive so long with two people who have taken such different routes through life.
I am a part-time working Mum of two kids under four, married with a mortgage. I’m living the 3am wake up, Cbeebies all day kind of life.
She is a career driven Social Media Manager with a boyfriend and flat share in the city. She’s living the cocktails at five, invitation to the latest premier kind of high life.
Yet when we get together, we are still those two geeky teenagers who wrote Lord of the Rings fanfiction, shared bags of jelly beans watching Pirates of the Caribbean movies and talked about our dreams until the wee hours.
So you see, this weekend meet-up meant a great deal to me. Which is why I was so disappointed with myself when I realised half way through the day, I was wishing my kids were there.
It went like this…
My friend and I are massive foodies, so our day was pretty much planned around that. We hit the British Museum first after meeting at the train station. We had a good catch up natter while pretending to be cultured, wandering around the exhibits and maybe learning something if we stopped talking for five seconds.
We then headed to Soho (and yes we basically walked everywhere!) for lunch. My friend had been recommended a gorgeous Italian place which turned out to be quiet for a Saturday lunch time, perfect for us. (It also happened to be down the road from a London Fashion Week event, which I felt a little under dressed walking past!)
After lunch was Selfridges Food Hall, after getting off at the wrong tube station and walking the entire length of Oxford St, where we ohhh’d and ahhh’d over the insanely gorgeous chocolates and cakes.
Then it was to our favourite place, the London Borough Market, a permanent feature of London Bridge. Here you can find the most incredible selection of artisan foods, cheeses, meats, fresh fruit and veg, speciality salts, oils, seasoning, alcohol etc. Just about everything you can imagine. We had a coffee break in the bar overlooking the market itself, a gorgeous location, then headed into the fray.
Our final stop of the day was China Town, where there were a few bits I’d wanted to pick up.
We met at 10am and parted at 6pm. It wasn’t enough time, but then, it never is.
The day was perfect, except as I said, I let myself down.
The first few hours at the museum flew past in a blur. At lunch we slowed down for the first time. I realised then what had been niggling at me all morning, like when you feel you’ve forgotten something but you can’t remember what.
I was feeling lost because I only had myself to look after. I wasn’t having to constantly keep my eye on my toddler, making sure he was safe and happy. I wasn’t having to eat my lunch one handed, while spoon feeding my baby. I wasn’t having to stop mid-conversation to answer the same question for the twelfth time. I didn’t have to navigate the crowds behind a buggy.
I was so very disappointed. I have made no secret on my personal blog of how important I believe ‘me’ time to be for mums. About how I, personally, need space from my kids from time to time to recharge.
So why was I suddenly, on such an important day, feeling naked without them? My youngest was home with Daddy for the day, my oldest with his Grandparents over night for a special treat. They were just fine without me, why wasn’t I fine without them?
I think, in the end, it comes down to my choice of ‘me’ time, combined with our default ‘everyone else comes first’ mindset as Mothers.
My personal time before this weekend meet up had been almost exclusively; a few hours here or there at a coffee shop or just in my bedroom at home, writing for my blog. Maybe the occasional walk to the shops to pick up supplies for the family.
Yet here I was, feeling selfish because I had taken an entire day away from them all, just for me. I was required to spend money on something just for myself.
It’s funny that this was probably the most difficult side of things for me, before I’d even got there I’d already planned to bring back certain treats for Husband and my eldest. I hadn’t planned on bringing back any treats for myself. (My friend, of course, talked me into getting just a little something. She’s a good friend.)
I realised towards the end of the day, when I was picking up the treats from China Town, sometimes it can be so hard for Mums to go somewhere they are not required to be Mum.
Sometimes we’ve been Mum so long that we forget how to just be ‘Us’. Even if we have a regular break, some ‘me’ time to recharge, it’s rarely the same. So many of us forget how to spend a day away just putting ourselves first. Making choices about where to go and what to do based on our needs, no one else’s.
That’s okay. As long as you make sure not to let that niggling doubt drive you home early, unfulfilled. As long as you remember you deserve a day, not just an hour if you need it. As long as you buy a treat for yourself, not just everyone else.