I had an odd moment of realisation today.
While the kids were at preschool and school, I nipped into town to pay in a cheque in that I’d had in my possession for four months or so. I had paid to park for an hour (after having to borrow 5p off an old lady – £1.30 that hour cost!) and with 51 minutes left to while away, it dawned on me that I no longer know how to be me, on my own.
With children in tow I know all the places to go, and even a trip to London on public transport can’t scare me, or at least I’m too busy making sure I haven’t forgotten anyone to waste time being scared.
Knowing where to be, when to be there and who to meet, I’m fine.
But on my own, with nowhere to be and at liberty to do whatever the hell I want to do, I realised I’m wildly out of practice.
I’ve spent the past five and a half years at the mercy of one or more small people and my whole life has revolved around them and their needs.
I’ve spent hours upon hours pacing up and down with colicky babies, what felt like days sat on the sofa, feeding, scrolling on my phone.
I’ve watched TV programmes with bright colours, irritating presenters and annoyingly catchy songs.
I’ve shopped for food to make thousands of meals which ended up on the floor or in the dog.
I’ve walked miles pushing tank-sized prams, I’ve shopped for toys and children’s clothes.
I’ve gone for days without a shower, and many nights without sleep.
I’ve forgotten a lot of things;
I’ve forgotten reading for pleasure.
I’ve forgotten browsing, and trying on clothes.
I’ve forgotten cakes in cafes with no requests to share.
I’ve forgotten how to wander at my own speed, without a hand or two to hold.
And so I found myself in town, in the middle of the day, with time to spare feeling slightly lost.
It sounds stupid, even to me, but I’m so used to having no free time that the last time I popped into town on my own just ‘because’ was years ago, and now it feels like a Big Thing.
I always thought that I was my children’s security blanket, but it turns out that perhaps they were mine too.
It may not be the time for new year’s resolutions any longer, but I’m going to set mine now.
To find more time for me this year. To get my nails done. To sit and have tea (and maybe a cake). To browse.
To spend that time between drop off and pick up remembering who I was before I had children and how to be me, on my own. And enjoy it.