For the first time this year OH and I have been away together just us. It is the first time in 23 months that I have been child free overnight. This rare occurrence was very enjoyable, as we went to the London tattoo convention for the first time in a couple of years (last year we decided not to with a smaller baby), but while it was great to get away and get to the convention which in itself is awesome, it has also left me with the age old existential crisis of attempting to work out who the hell I actually am now after being without a child for a full weekend as getting the pre baby me back seems nigh on impossible. A weird feeling indeed. All whilst wandering around a tattoo convention… hmm.
Being a mum really does encase you in a mummy bubble. A really big bubbly ball thing that never bursts and becomes your whole life. Now while I wouldn’t have my child being the centre of my universe any other way of course, it would seem I have forgotten how to people, or indeed actually how be a human that wears clothes that aren’t jeans and hoodies, whose hair isn’t always in a bun and whose eyeliner is winged. Science will tell you that a baby will see the primary care giver as an extension of themselves. They wonder in awe when they realise they have arms that are separate to the ones attached to the blob that does their bidding when they make noise, or just in general, but the noise thing seems to work well for them. I’m still waiting for that wondrous moment Ewan calls me mama. He seems to be able to name all his other family members apart from me, which is lovely of course, but a little bit of a kick in the (metaphorical for me) balls as it seems like a flat refusal sometimes.
Since I started work back in December 2017, I have been granted temporary release from the mummy bubble 3 days a week, to return to work part time (oh how grateful I was for that-thanks bubble, and lack of money!) but going to work isn’t really a proper release is it? For starters work is not really a place where you can drink gin, throw your bra across the room and use swear words with gay abandon… well not without the threat of disciplinary action anyway. It’s kind of like a scene from the prisoner, the mummy bubble/big ball thing will chase you all over (work) then when you are caught it will drag you back home (ok so the prisoner analogy is a bit wrong here!). When I first started work I didn’t see it like this of course. I didn’t want to be granted day release! I couldn’t possibly have left him. What was to become of our routine, our relationship? He would miss the blob with arms terribly I was sure… Wrong! That’s another part of another story but I’m pretty sure he does not miss me when I’m at work. Resents me for going away possibly, but misses me while I’m gone, probably not so much. I on the other hand do miss him terribly. Work keeps me semi occupied from the worrying/missing him thing but going away from him for the first time ie what happened last weekend, was a first for me. I have never left him at night before, and in true baby shit all over you (not literally although he has done that before) add to the guilt style, he also was pretty poorly with a nasty viral infection. Not the thing you want to happen when you’re already an over anxious parent in the first place. So far I have established I am a mummy blob that works part time in a job where I have to pretend I’m at least some sort of professional, so it’s hardly the “real” me, so good. So who am I still?
I digress slightly. LO stayed at my mum’s while we were away and she did an absolutely extraordinary job of looking after my poorly little lamb, just as I knew she would, although my anxiety was telling me lots of very different things. Not that I didn’t trust her of course. My anxiety tells me different about all things all the time, even just a simple walk down the street so it’s a constant battle not to give way to these annoying thoughts I have. Sometimes I am more successful, and sometimes I’m pretty shit. I guess this was one of the pretty shit times but anyway away we go to London, me feeling extremely guilty, an awful Mum/blob with arms, full of worry etc etc. OH not so much… Just putting it out there-it’s not a dig, but him being so nonchalant about things actually really pisses/pissed me off! The one thing that really helped me in this particular situation (and I am not advocating this at all) was alcohol… OH might have been pissing me off but came up trumps with the JD and coke he’d brought with him. Even then though, no child, slightly pissed, hair literally let down (straightening it counts as effort these days), wearing a dress and even makeup, a definitely rarity these days, I was still left with an empty feeling. Empty because we were sans child I suppose. A weird feeling. A guilty feeling. I was looking forward to a weekend of freedom and fun, but at the same time feeling very guilty about it. It even felt like OH and I were getting to know each other all over again, because things have definitely changed there as well. We are a totally different couple to the one pre kid. Perhaps this was even a make or break situation-but make or break what exactly? Everything has changed, even though I’m still the same person, so nothing should have changed. The mummy paradox perhaps. Or the parent paradox I should say-although from my point of view things don’t seem to have changed for OH “THAT” much. Although I have changed. I think that’s his issue.
So if part one of the who am I crack was feeling guilty about enjoying myself now I’m a mum, part two was definitely some kind of PND lack of confidence special. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the London tattoo convention, or indeed any tattoo convention, but it’s/ they are a very cool place, and of course full of very cool people. I only have two very shit tattoos but OH is covered, he’s a proper tattoo collector. I just hang off his coat tails at these things. Or at least that’s what I feel I am doing. On the Saturday night I was slightly dressed up and falsely confident under the influence of alcohol. On the Sunday I was hungover, so perhaps tinged with beer fear, and wearing slouchier clothes. I should have made more of an effort clearly! Everyone else had!! I quickly felt inadequate and silly, like I hadn’t got the memo. I felt a bit intimidated being surrounded by awesome body art and funky fashion. The last time I had been to the convention I had been pregnant so what I was wearing really didn’t come into it. I wore my maternity jeans and I didn’t give a shit. These days I still wear my maternity jeans (full bump ones) because they are so ruddy comfy. I have noticed OH is more despairing of this lately so I didn’t include them in packing for this weekend. I rarely wear anything other than jeans/leggings and hoodies however so this is pretty much what I had packed apart from the dress I had worn on the Saturday night, and the compromise (I thought so anyway!) of not packing my oh so comfy (but terrible) maternity jeans. I put in a lot more effort into my child’s clothes, as most mum’s do I suspect, and I have barely anything other than the tried and tested dress for special occasions that makes me feel the least fat, which I never wear anyway because I never go out anymore. When we returned to our hotel room after a day of mooching and hanging around cool people, OH had an early night, giving me plenty of time to ponder who I once was and who this mummy blob thing was now. I scrolled through old pictures of OH and I on nights out, at the last couple of conventions we’ve been to, and just in general. I realised that I’ve lost that person completely. I am somebody new now. A hoody/leggings/ jeans wearing, no makeup wearing, Mum bun hair style, somebody new. Because it’s convenient to become that person. I haven’t got time to put on makeup, or even have a shower some days. Being a mum is such an all encompassing, earth shattering thing to happen, and although I wouldn’t change it for one second, I think it’s time some of the shattered pieces of me need to be picked up again. I suppose it took the weird feeling of freedom and guilt, and having the time to put on a bit of slap and straighten my hair that only a child free weekend could create to make me realise this. So who I am is still I work in progress I guess and I definitely have to work on my self esteem. There is life outside being a Mum/blob with arms, it sounds obvious to say it now, but I didn’t half miss him the whole weekend. He’d had such a whale of a time at Grandma’s he didn’t seem that arsed when we picked him up, but secretly I think he was glad to see his Mummy blob and Dada too.