There are some things that I used to take for granted pre-mamahood, Sleep, spontaneity, silence – oh and did I mention sleep? Things I appreciate SO much more now when I get them. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my children and I wouldn’t swap being a mama for anything in the world but these are the moments I kinda miss….
1. Solo grocery shopping
If the opportunity to pop to the shops without an entourage presents itself – I’m there like a flash. Call me sad but a saunter down the aisles is equivalent to an afternoon at the spa. Ok maybe that’s going a little far – but these days a trip to the supermarket = an uninterrupted hour to do whatever I want (well, within limits – I am in a shop after all). Exploring every single shelf, reading every label, planning menus, tasting little bits of cubed cheese and walking through the bread section without fear of sticky little hands molesting all of the baked goods. I love to shop in peace without having to worry that someone needs a poo while waiting for my fish to be filleted, caving in to monstrous meltdowns by buying random tat or – worse still – a load of sugary treats which will haunt me at bedtime and trying to chase 3 small people each headed in separate directions.
Ahhh silence. How I have missed you. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than the sound of giggling and laughter – of the children playing and frolicking and delighting in their world. But fast forward a few seconds and there is yelling, fighting – and my all time worst – whingeing. What is it with the whining noise that manages to press all the right (or wrong) buttons? At the end of each day my head feels like it’s going to explode and tinnitus has set in. At this point, hubby usually walks in and starts ranting (sorry, talking) to me about what a hellish day he’s had before turning the radio or TV onto high volume just to top it all off. A moment’s peace and a whinge-free zone is utterly blissful these days. Pass me the mute button please.
Unsurprisingly, the S word has made it onto mama’s list. Before kids, I would complain if somebody woke me before 9am. Now, anything after 6 feels like a lie-in to the point where the hubby and I will high-five and whoop like crazy people when it happens. Nobody can prepare you for the mammoth change in sleep patterns when you become a parent – and if you’re one of the lucky ones whose children have slept for 12 hours from day one, then just keep that to yourself please.
Oh, and there’s the competitive sleeping thing between me and the other half about who’s had more winks and which one of us is more tired. Five hours?! Pah! I had three AND I had to deal with a middle-of-the-night accident, check for monsters under the bed and fetch water from downstairs. Sound familiar? Just one night of blissful uninterrupted shut eye, surely it’s not too much to ask for?!
Remember that time you decided to catch a movie one afternoon or book a last minute mini-break? Or when ‘just one’ at lunchtime stretched on into the evening? Yes mamas, I miss those days too. Having vowed that I would never enforce a routine onto my children (famous last words), my days are now meticulously planned around whatever they need to be doing. You know the drill mamas, we schedule their napping, eating and being chauffeured from A to B to Z and all while juggling our own hefty workload. There’s very little room for spontaneous stuff unless you count the unplanned takeaway or last minute playdate. But you know what, even these small changes to the daily grind can inject a bit of fun and energy into life and I love them.
5. Flying solo
Oh yes. Flying with kids is one helluva mission. There’s the kit (10 changes of clothing just in case junior suddenly loses all control of his bladder), distractions (toys usually played with and discarded before the plane has hit the runway), snacks (ditto) and that’s just for starters. I hate to admit that I was one of those people who just couldn’t understand why parents weren’t keeping their kids under control while cruising at 40,000 feet. And now I finally understand just what it means to try and contain a toddler in a space the size of a postage stamp for a few hours.
I get to fly alone on the (very) odd occasion these days and I relish every minute. I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat the minute I set food on board and don’t care which seat I’m given (bring on the one at the back that doesn’t recline as much as the others) just as long as I can sit. I’ll try to watch every movie, just because I can. It doesn’t need to be about the destination because the journey is enough for me – just get me into that chair with my book, a film and a tray of compartmentalised food that isn’t going to end up all over everything in sight and I’ll be very, very happy.
6. Eating out (without apologies)
We eat out with the kids a lot and over the years we’ve learned the hard way that breakfast is by far the easiest and most sensible meal to tackle with the minis in tow. Lunch is often fraught because they’re tired. And dinner – well, I’m just not all that into eating at 5pm. Breakfast can be quick as nobody’s too tired yet (mama excluded) plus breakfast food just lends itself to a little bit of mess; croissants make crumbs and scrambled eggs are all over the place anyway. Someone told me that the more you eat out with your kids, the more they’ll learn how to behave. Apparently this is the way that French mamas do it (is that true by the way, French mamas?). So we’ve tried it on numerous occasions.
In my head, the family is sitting – note: sitting – around a beautiful table laden with delicious things and nobody is telling me anything looks yucky . In reality, my daughter is trying to climb out of her high chair, my middle child- who insists he’s too old for a high chair – can barely see over the table and is shoveling food all over everything and the eldest, who was STARVING just before arrival is now not hungry at all, doesn’t like it and wants to play with the knife instead. Meanwhile, mama is gulping her food down in a way totally non conducive to digestion and trying to spoon feed everyone. All while making sure nobody is making a dash for the kitchen or trying to pinch chips from the table next door. So yes, eating out when I can actually chew my food, have a conversation that lasts longer than 95 seconds and not have to apologise profusely for the mess and the noise every time I leave is something to get very excited about.
7. Watching a movie without falling asleep
Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to watch films (or tv for that matter), perhaps with a little snack and a glass of something cold and definitely with her other half and at any time she liked (she didn’t know what it felt like to panic because 10pm was approaching and the hours of guaranteed sleep were slipping away). The end. So now the same girl is a mama who would love to watch a movie without falling asleep before it’s over. Impossible. I’m just too darned tired and my body recognizes the opportunity for sleep wherever it may be. I will watch a film this year, even if I have to fly long-haul solo just to do so.
Yeah so I’m not ashamed to admit that I miss this stuff every now and then. But it’s all worth it – right mamas?