Sunday, December 18, 2011

Having a life? Yeah right!

If it's one thing I hear constantly from my friends who have children (which unfortunately are few and far between, most of my friends remain childless) is their desire to be able to do something, anything away from the kids. And I must admit, before I had children of my own, I really didn't get just how 24/7 kids really are. Even when they're sleeping, you're still there, waiting for them to wake up, praying they don't wake up, keeping an ear out for them, just in case they wake up. I couldn't even go to the bathroom on my own for a few months, until I finally got up the nerve to close the door in my screaming boy's face. I had to draw the line somewhere, right? If I'm not going to have much of a life outside of Andrew, then I will at least pee in privacy. That's my viewpoint, anyways.

But forget peeing alone, sometimes just an hour or two away from the kids would be nice. But the problem? Who will look after the children? If you're going out on your own, the father is often the solution, but what if you want to do something together? Life is not as simple as it was before children now. You can't make spontaneous plans - babysitters must be arranged, and ones that know how to cope with your child's various quirks too.

Take today for instance, I have a friend who is single and pregnant, and moving. Neil and I are both going to help her move, but we had no babysitter. So what does that mean? We're bringing the toddler! I'm sure this will mean half the day will be spent in keeping him from touching certain things, from getting underfoot, and from escaping the old apartment, then the new apartment. I'm more there for moral support if you think about it really, Neil will be doing most of the lifting. And it's not as simple as just bringing him either, naps had to be planned and thought out carefully, to coincide with arrival time, lunch time, and when we most likely expect to be done. Because guess what? We're also having my parents over for dinner and Survivor finale tonight, which means we have to plan that he'll be awake and able to visit when they're here too. Is your head spinning yet?

I used to think that once you had a baby, that's it, your life was now about them all the time, and that taking time for oneself was a selfish thing to do. But having walked the road of a mother for the last year I finally understand that in taking time for myself, it's making me a better mother. I get time to reflect, to relax, and to recharge my battery. Time away from Andrew makes me love him more, and enjoy the time I play with him and see him all the more. Taking care of myself means that I'm happier, and that in turn affects how I react to stressful baby situations, and it makes me get down on the floor and play with him more. When I wasn't doing anything for myself I snapped at people sometimes, had little random crying fits, and I was prone to be emotional at the oddest times. None of those things have happened since I started letting myself escape now and then, and though I feel the odd twinge of guilt at leaving Andrew and hearing him cry as the door closes in his face, I come back blissful, and I can't help but love how he runs to me and practically tackles me when I get back.

I wouldn't miss out on being a mother for all the world, but now that I know how important my me-time has become for my mental health, I wouldn't miss it for all the world either.

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