Friday, August 6, 2010

All By Myself

Twice a week our son goes to a playgroup at the local church hall. It’s very informal but they have toys and snacks and a big space for kids to run around in. Occasionally someone comes in and plays a guitar and they sing songs. J is the youngest child by several months but he is at an age where he needs an outing every day, and it’s an easy way to entertain him for a couple of hours. It feels like lazy parenting but he loves it so I don’t feel too bad about it. L goes with him and I get the impression that she relishes the opportunity to spend some time with him on her own. She has three children of her own in the Philippines and she misses them terribly so while she is with us she treats J as if he is one of hers. She always dresses him up and combs his hair (making me feel even lazier when I take him out with breakfast in his hair), and I know she gets a buzz when people comment on what a gorgeous baby he is. I know some mothers who occasionally go to the playgroup but it seems to be an opportunity for the helpers to get together and socialise as well. I left J and L there earlier in the week while I did some shopping and when I finished early I went to the church to check it out. There was a flurry of talk in Tagalog when I walked in and I felt slightly uncomfortable, as I was clearly the subject of the conversation. L assured me later that they were all saying that I was very beautiful and that my son is very lucky to have such attractive parents! I decided that regardless of whether or not that was true I would believe her and leave her to it in the future. Yesterday my brilliant husband suggested that we could take it in turns to drive J and L down to the church and wait for them, so that each of us would have a few hours at home by ourselves one day a week. This is clearly one of the best suggestions he has ever made and I wholeheartedly embraced the idea. Today it was my turn and it was fantastic! I listened to music, proper grown-up music, and I surprised myself by clearing a number of items off my to-do list. I even made the bed, put on some washing and had a shower. I was half way through a cup of tea and an episode of Samantha Who? when they all arrived home. It got me thinking about how I filled my days before J was born. I don’t remember ever being that productive in such a short space of time before I had a baby. Has being a parent made me more efficient? Or is it that I once had the luxury of taking my time? I’m honestly baffled by the thought. I only worked part-time while I was pregnant, some weeks I didn’t work at all. I must’ve watched A LOT of television. When J was a newborn we had a lot of trouble with breastfeeding and he would feed for 2 hours at a time sometimes. Time to myself was never an option. In those early days I would spend half an hour in the shower because it was the only time of the day when no one asked anything of me; no one dared! I relished those moments to myself, even if I had to wait until 4pm or later to get them. These days, even though the demands are different, I am still very busy and I sometimes find myself missing my freedom. There are days when I would like a cup of tea and a sit down, and at other times I find myself wishing I could drop everything and go to New York with my husband for a weekend on one of his work trips. I’d love to get dressed up and go out with the girls and dance all night. I’d like to have friends over for dinner and spend hours creating a fabulous meal instead of ordering a quick pizza. I miss being able to read a book in the middle of the day or make a last minute decision to see a movie. But the truth is I never did any of those things when I had all the time in the world so am I really missing anything? I have to remind myself that I was bored quite often and lonely at times. Now there’s never a dull moment and our house is filled with laughter and toys and cuddles. I appreciate every minute I have to myself because they’re so rare but more than anything I love every day that I spend with my son. The time I spend with him is so much finer than any time I ever spent on the sofa watching TV or reading magazines. It even beats a pedicure and a quiet glass of wine, although once in a while that would be nice too. Whatever you’re doing this weekend, enjoy! I’ll be back on Monday x

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