Last week, I went on a date.
I went to the cinema, saw the new Ant-Man movie and ate a small bag of pick ‘n’ mix (because it’s a hella pricey). My company was this wonderful person who has made me laugh since birth. We have everything in common; from food to comics, and we share the same birthday. The thing is, we haven’t seen each other much since T came along three years ago.
Sure we’d have a few spare minutes to see each other whilst we popped to the shop or the toilet (don’t confuse the two!) but we hadn’t properly caught up in a long time, which has recently started to eat away at me. So much so that I no longer felt ‘free’.
If you hadn’t ready guessed, this person was me. Not Mummy-Kate or even Wife-Kate, but Kate-Kate.
When you become a parent you inevitably don’t have time to do it all (you physically can’t!) as well as be everything and everywhere, so things fall to the wayside. I expected things like mopping or cleaning the curtains to happen less frequently (not that I’m complaining), however I never expected that I wouldn’t ever see myself properly. I’d forgotten what it was like to think of nothing. No lunch-prep, no food shopping, no bag packing. Nothing.
Every now and again when Sharon is away travelling or working late I’d find some time to play on the xbox or watch a series on Netflix, but for me I always have one ear listening for T or a few grey cells thinking about what I need to get out of the freezer for tea the next day, or whether I have T’s swimming bag packed. Sharon would often tell me to go for a bath to relax, but it would be guaranteed that T would slip through Sharon’s woven net and burst in to tell me something. I never really escape.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love being a parent and a wife. I cherish it and enjoy it more than you will ever know. I also love working and being able to buy us nice things and go on holiday. But I had no idea I’d lose myself and have to decide which apron so to speak I’d only be able to wear at any one time, and that you can’t wear them all. Of course parenting will come first, and your partner a very close second, but for once, just once, I would like it to be about it me.
You have no idea how selfish I feel saying that. How can I possibly think about ‘me’ when there are more important things that need doing and more important people. After all, no one else is complaining about not being by themselves? Sure, they’d like to go to the toilet in peace, but I can’t see anyone wanting complete freedom. How selfish am I? Especially as we worked so hard for this life. What’s wrong with me?
Eventually, I realised that what was wrong with me was a loss of identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was moving between rooms labelled ‘work’, ‘wife’, ‘mum’ with no break or let up, and after starting to feel sour towards the perceived freedom that I felt Sharon had in comparison I knew things needed to change and I did indeed need to become more selfish. As they say, happy parent, happy family.
So we did just that, after a long conversation we opened our jam-packed calendar and Sharon blocked out some days within each month that I would leave the house and go and do something for me. Whether it’s a meal out by myself or with friends, the cinema, even some late night shopping, Sharon told me to not look back, go be by myself, and enjoy some alone time.
Last week was my first official ‘date’ with myself and it felt amazing. I didn’t think of the house, work, or my child. I did, however, think of my wife who has been incredibly patient and understanding over the last few weeks, even though I was a right cow at first (I’m not very good with words when I’m stressed). Without her I probably would have gone ‘bang’ soon enough as working full time with an active three year old is tough.
I needed this date with myself and now that I’ve got past the first hurdle of accepting that I needed to do it I feel great. I still feel somewhat selfish, but that’s slowly being eaten away alongside the popcorn and pick-n-mix!
… over the past few months we’ve made sure we make plans for ourselves, as well as with each other and as a family. On Friday, Sharon is going out with work colleagues, and Saturday I might grab another cinema date with myself in the evening. It’s not that we don’t like hanging out with each other (quite the opposite, actually!) and there’s nothing wrong with ‘us’ (again, quite the opposite!) it’s just that we also quite like being within our own minds, which is something we’ve only just realised. In order to regenerate and refresh ourselves, to basically be better parents & wives, we need to be a bit selfish sometimes! Family life is so busy that you rarely get time for yourself, and that needs to change. Whilst family is important, so are you.