Saturday, 4 June 2011

What do you miss now that you have children?

A quick question. A question that got me thinking and re-assess the watershed that becoming a mother is. The question in question was "what to you miss now that you have children." Talk about opening a can of worms. However, as much as I knew that there are things I miss, I also instantly thought that it's not all loss, that four years on and looking back, it's been a process of adjustment.

Yes, my life is very different to what it was. I used to go out every weekend, love to party, go to lots of gigs and I was some sort of exercise junkie - hop classes (aerobics), running and hillwalking took up rather a lot of my time. Now, I'm sedentary mostly, if I have a large glass of wine it's a lot and I feel tipsy and exercise... Oh I know I should do more.

The loss was felt when I first became a mum because it was such a radical and sudden change. It was not when it happened again, although there was a certain degree of readjustment from one to two. As someone put it, you "grieve" for the lifestyle lost first time around, when the change is so massive, but with the second child, it's not so bad really.

So, the answer varies. Back then, 4 years ago, I missed a lot. Hot tea, a good night's sleep (or any sleep longer than 2 hours), being able to socialise, go to gigs, to the cinema, for a drink, getting drunk, being able to go to the loo by myself, being able to leave a room without a baby starting to scream, being in control of what I do when. My plot, which I had to give up because Cubling would not let me do even 5 minutes worth of gardening without demanding my attention. I craved my return to work when she was only 5 months because I felt "normal" again. It was a control thing, being in control of what you do and being able to see things through from start to finish, being productive and able to look back on the day knowing that you've actually done something.

Now, 4 years later, I don't miss any of these things. I'm ok spending evenings at home and have filled them with knitting, blogging and watching DVDs. The only two things that I still miss is being in control of what I do, and me time. I'd love to be able to plan my day and just do it. Say, to clean this or tidy that, have the 2 hours it takes and be done. With two kids? No chance. The other thing I miss is being able to go to courses / workshops that interest me. Baby Snowflake still isn't very settled in the evening and needs me to settle, so any event scheduled in the evening is off limits, as are full day workshops in permaculture, upcycling and Cybermummy.

Of course, second time mum also knows that this is temporary, that in two year's time, there will be time and more control. All in all, it's easier with two than it was with one because they love each other and are already each other's best playmates. It's easier to do many chores with two than it was with one (admittedly high need) baby.

I do miss time just for myself. But not enough to demand it. Time spent with the whole family is still always more desireable than doing something just by myself.

And I surprised myself, answering the question, how far the process of adjustment has taken me. How rejection of my "plight" has been replaced by finding pleasures in the small print of my life. The DVD rental that has replaced trips to the cinema, the newfound love of the radio that has replaced my love for listening to music, the ability to be happy with the tiniest gardening successes rather than being overwhelmed by ambition to do more than can be fitted in.

Of course there are also the moments when I'm close to losing it when it proves impossible to get everyone out of the house before 11am, when I feel that I didn't do anything in a whole day, when I feel frustrated that I don't have the time to follow up on interests and ambitions. When every day seems forever filled with laundry, making food and endlessly trying to keep on top of things that I mostly don't enjoy doing.

I wonder if becoming a mother later in life makes it harder because it's more difficult to adjust, or if you accept more easily that you've travelled, explored, had fun for so many years that now you can give back. Nothing prepares you for motherhood, but whatever it brings, we are able to adjust and rearrange our lives.

What do you miss most since becoming a parent?


Sarah Hemm said...

I can totally relate!

Mwa said...

I miss adult conversation and "serious work of the mind" most. I chose to stop working for a few years and I don't regret it, but I do miss it.

Anonymous said...

I miss being able to just run out and get something done. Now everything takes planning.
I can relate to pretty much all the things you mentioned. But by now (18 months later), I get a fair amount of me-time (thanks to a new regular sitter!). And my son plays well by himself, so I can squeeze in a blog or other such thing here and there. All in all, your post has caused me to reflect and realize how happy I am with the way things are. Thanks for that!
And thanks for the reassurance that it actually does get easier with two... hopefully we'll start trying for #2 soon..... :)

cartside said...

@germanintheafternoon, my first never played by herself. She's only starting this now at 4 years, but no 2 does and the two love playing together in spite of the age difference, so I don't have so much entertaining to do! We don't have a sitter yet but will be getting one once baby doesn't wake hourly anymore. I hope this means soon.
It depends on the personality of children if it gets better with two - in our case, with an older sibling who is a total people person, and an easy going baby who adores big sis, it's perfect. Had I known it, we'd have tried for no. 2 earlier!

@Mwa, oh yes, uninterrupted adult conversations. I think I may have lost the ability to have them, can't remember how they work anymore...

"Mama Wild" said...

I really miss the cinema, but have also gotten used to the regular DVDs dropping through the postbox instead. I try to convince myself that homemade popcorn is tastier!
The main thing I miss is the ability to go anywhere at the drop of a hat - a shop, an evening in the pub with friends, just seeing friends, and most of all a weekend away!



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