Starfishing 

This week Husband asked if I minded if he went to pick up some new golf clubs once the Girlies were in bed. I beamed from ear to ear! It was a 2-hour round trip! Absolutely not darling! The pleasure of watching Love Island by myself with a little tin of cider and no one wanting me for a couple of hours was written all over my face. I think he may have been a little offended. 

I’ve never liked being on my own. All of my friends, and in particular Sister, will be able to recall some strange place I’ve taken them to at some point because I didn’t want to go on my own. Sister is eight years younger than me and regularly starts her sentences with “Remember that time you took me to…move out of your ex’s flat, the office, a baby gym class even though I have no baby”. I hate silence, and I’ve always hated my own company. Maybe not when I was really young, then I used to talk to my furniture (think Belle talking to Lumiere and Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast except without the furniture talking back). I’m a serial over-thinker and can send myself into a dark (mental) hole if left on my own for too long. Sometimes I used to think I wanted to be on my own so on a work trip, for example, I would go to my hotel room and order room service. Then I would spend all night messaging people. Texts, WhatsApp and Messenger changed my life. 

That was then. BC. Before Children. Now, I spend most of my waking hours craving time alone. There are some things I want to do alone. Things I should be able to do alone. Like have a poo. I never knew this to be a luxury in my previous life. I wish I could go to a bathroom and quietly sit on the toilet for 5 minutes without that little blonde mop of curls peering round the door – “What are you doing Mummy? Are you on the toilet Mummy? Are you having a wee or a poo? Shall I get you some tissue Mummy?” I wish I could shower alone, occasionally washing and conditioning my hair without thinking every noise is the sound of 2 year old Girly no1 rolling 7 month old Girly no2 down the stairs. Or giving her one of those overly affectionate “cuddles” that barrel her into the floor like a rugby tackled nerd and leave her wailing like a banshee and kicking like an upside down tortoise. I wish I could have 60 seconds to wee alone. I wish it could be timed for when I start to need a wee, not when I’m hopping up and down about to wet myself and hoping I make it back to the kitchen before the kettle starts whistling, no2 throws all her finger food on the floor and no1 finishes her yoghurt and decides to help feed her sister, by which I mean ramming lumps into her mouth until she gags. I wish I could have two minutes on my phone sometimes to respond to a friend I haven’t heard from in a while, or to plan nice things for us all to do. I wish I could read a message, type a response and hit send in a relaxed way. I see people casually looking at their phone perusing pages and idlely tapping out messages and I want to snatch their phone off of them and throw it away. How dare they have all that alone time and be so casual with it?! Most of all, I crave alone time in the mornings. Far from renowned for my morning charm (no one at work ever chose to meet with me before 11am), I want to wake up of my own accord. I want to spend half an hour gently opening one eye at a time, blinking lots and wiping away the dribble from my pillow at a sloth-like pace. No one needs to be kicked in the stomach and have your boob pinched whilst having “Peppa Pig Peppa Pig” shouted in your sensitive morning-ears. There are just some things I never knew I wanted to do alone. 

My now very-precious alone time is garnered at strange times. On a good day, it’s a skipped visit to the in laws or a missed nursery collection (someone else doing it, not just leaving her there). In these precious half hours or hours, I tidy up the house, put the washing away and make sure the next lot of meals is ready. Sometimes half an hour goes by before I even put the radio on. This is so new to me, I would never before be in silence in any way. After the house is in order (I can’t relax otherwise) I lie on the sofa or the bed and I do nothing. I just lie. I call it star-fishing. You know when you just flop out with your arms and legs relaxed outwards, making your body into a star. I really indulge in having no one asking me questions, or hanging off my feet, or pulling at my clothes, or making me find things, or talking to me about poo, or discussing what food will be consumed next. I just lie. Really still. And I stare into the distance, sometimes daring to close my eyes. I never go to sleep. That would be a waste of my precious alone-time. It doesn’t go on for too long, but ten or twenty minutes of star-fishing is the dream. After this period, if I have more alone time, I try and enjoy it more. Recently I have listened to some pod casts like I used to, or audio books. I listened to The Handmaids Tale because I can’t wait for the next episode on Sundays. This turned out to be a mistake – I’m annoyed at how the book ended and I now notice every deviation in the TV series. There are other things I do. Running (check out #milfgoals on Instagram for some hot pics of my angry tomato head) has always been something I’ve hated. Now I love it. Half an hour to be on my own outside, running through beautiful countryside with no one badgering me. It’s amazing. I feel like I’m in a Disney film, the opening scenes to Bambi maybe, but with less murdered deer.

Most days though, my alone-time is limited. I have to snatch it throughout the day. I hide in the utility room, sorting washing, or I take 10 minutes to have a wee. Husband thinks I’ve started poo-ing three times a day. Mind you, he’s started poo-ing five times a day so I think he might be doing the same. Doing washing has become my friend, and I now see how my Mum became so obsessed with it (sorry Mum!). Our utility room is at the back of the garage, through a big heavy fire door that Girly no1 cannot open. When she’s really ‘on one’ I can hide out there for some deep breaths. When the tumble drier is going, it just about drowns out the “Mummy! Mummy! What are you doing Mummy?” I feel like a horrible person admitting that I hide from my children, but being brutally honest, this last month or so has been draining. I struggle not to crack open a Koppaberg at 5pm, when – on a good week, I can wait until at least 6pm. I’m exaggerating, I only actually have a drink 3 or 4 days a week (!) but this toddler phase is really tough. It’s the whining, the potty training, the refusal to do things, the taking forever to do something, the bundling her sister. It’s pretty relentless. Sometimes, both Girlies sleep at the same time. When it happens it makes me giddy. I do my normal running around and then try and do something I want to do on my own. When the weather was really hot they both slept at the same time, so with naps and running I listened to The Handmaid’s Tale in about two weeks. It was a dream! It’s only the second or third book I’ve finished since I became a Mum. I used to read a book a week! Last week we thought it was time to cut out Girly no1’s naps. I’m not-so-secretly pleased that she was so horrendously behaved and deafeningly whingey that they’ve been reinstated. Phew! Close one.

I know that I am incredibly lucky to have any alone time at all. Many Mums are doing things single-handedly or with very little help and they don’t get any of this time. Hats off to you Mumma’s. I don’t know how you do it. I have an incredibly supportive Husband and family so I probably get far more time than most. But whatever time I do get is precious and needed. Oh-so needed! My ears need a break. My brain needs a rest. My body needs space. Whether I’m trying to shed baby pounds, listen to someone else chat who doesn’t need an answer back, or just to starfish – I need it. Also, there’s Love Island to catch up on, I forgot to mention that important alone time. Husband won’t watch it so I have to try and watch it at some point during the day, when there are no young eyes or ears around. No one wants to be asked “What are they doing Mummy?” when the duvet starts bumping up and down. 

STARFISHING Mum Alonetime
Just imagine I have a pointy head

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