Working mum of three

Figuring it out as we go along. Blogging is cheaper than therapy.

Relaxation and guilt

For a blog about working and parenting, this one covers neither. Or rather, the absence of both. The kids are having a week with their Grandparents (thanks Rich’s mum and dad!) while we have four nights in Madeira.

Time for yourself is something you lose when becoming a parent. Everything is interrupted. Kids have a different urgency: Help with the potty, nightmares, bumps, bashes, scrapes, jigsaws.

So imagine the luxury of having all this time to ourselves. How we chuckled smugly to ourselves as we watched parents battling to entertain their kids on the flight. How we revelled in long sleeps and then took more naps during the day. We changed our plans on a whim. Ate at weird times. Ate weird food. Slept even more.

We had time to bond with the bump, musing over names, wondering how our family will change and recognising the neglect it was already suffering (and I thought being a second child was bad!). We relaxed and talked. Often about the boys, sometimes about politics (Thatcher just died), history and about nothing. There is so much to get out of an uninterrupted conversation.

Rich and I aren’t bad at taking time out. We alternate who does the early morning shift with the kids. We try to do activities of our own every now and then. And let’s not forget that we both work full time, and although that brings its own challenges, it also provides a break from childcare.

But i wasn’t prepared for the emotion and the guilt. Missing the boys has been terrible. When we arrived, the apartment wasn’t quite as perfect as it looked online, the weather wasn’t so good and we were further out of town. We’d spent 2 hours walking into the town, the vegi food options were limited, but the cold shower was the last straw. In tears, I explained to Rich that the holiday needed to be perfect in order to get rid of the guilt I felt about leaving the boys. After all, it’s such an indulgent, selfish thing to do.

When my mum and I went for a birthday treat to the floatation ‘relaxation’ tank, I couldn’t relax. In fact, I spent the hour wondering when the time would be up, running through my to do list and thinking about what the kids were doing. For the last few minutes, I sat in the pitch dark pool, sobbing and worrying about why I couldn’t relax. Relaxing stresses me out. Too many balls in the air. If I relax, they’ll all hit the ground.

Rich is better at separating it all out. First time back to work was so overwhelming, everything overlapped and felt so muddled. Rich didn’t have that problem: mornings were all about getting everyone dressed and out the door. Time on the bus was alone time (usually filled with reading a novel). Work was work. More bus time. Then family time (feeding, playing, sleeping). He didn’t worry about kids development during business meetings, or well up when someone asked how nursery was going. He just divided it all up. It gets easier with practice, but I still can’t spend time thinking about my boys during the day without losing it.

That’s what’s so wonderful about pregnancy. You can provide round the clock nourishment, comfort and survival for baby whilst functioning as an independent human being. So you can never explain the challenges of parenthood to expectant parents. It’s so abstract. Much as you obsess over baby in utero, you have no idea how much they will change you and impact your life.

As it turned out, the kids survived our week away. Nothing crashed to the ground. No worlds collided. They had a fantastic time with their Nanny and Grandad and we got some rest. Guess it’s ok to take time out then. When’s the next holiday? Only another 18 years or so.


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