Any of you parent types ever feel a bit lost? Over the last 9 years of this bewildering and confusing and amazing journey that is parenthood, I’ve felt a little lost at times, but these days, honestly, it’s a lot of the time. A LOT.
In those first early days after The Girl child arrived I felt totally lost in sleep deprivation and breast feeding and pain and conflicting advice and depression and anxiety and generally the whole Oh What The Fuck Am I Doing-ness of the whole being a mother thing. But those settled after a time and I found my new self, my mother self, and it felt right. Then The Boy one came along and those feelings all returned plus new ones, but deep down it all felt right somehow. The lack of make up, the unwashed hair, the clothes that I chose based one whether I could breastfeed in them and they had little or no snot/spat out food/breastmilk crusted on them, the non-existent social life all felt OK. It was different but it was right. These little humans had become my new focus and reason for being.
But now, almost nine years to the day that I emerged writhing and screaming into this world of motherhood, I feel really quite at sea. My kids who were only babies yesterday I swear, are 7 and 9 (tomorrow) and are very much their own cool and lovely selves. They are becoming more independent and individual, and it’s wonderful to watch. They obviously still need me a lot for various things, ensuring they are delivered on time to various activities, fetching several cups of water at bed time and listening to tales of how awful their sibling is approximately 137 times a day are top of the list, but they can entertain themselves very happily for hours, they can feed themselves simple things, they can dress themselves, The Girl can do her own hair and the things they need help with are less and less.
Don’t get me wrong, this is all good. I don’t exactly miss the hours I had to spend watching The Girl complete any given activity – she never wanted help, but always wanted an audience – or all the time spent chasing The Boy to get him to eat something or wear something or have a clean nappy. I wouldn’t want to go back to those days at all. But now my focus can be softened a little it has left me looking for me again. Not mother me, just me. And I can’t quite find her.
Pre-kids I was a sucker for a good night out, especially if it involved watching bands. Any chance of getting dolled up and out the house and I was there. I loved make up and clothes and music and friends and adventures. And I’m feeling that again in this new strange phase of life. I haven’t really cared about clothes or make up or going out for a long time, but suddenly I do again. Except I’m no longer 25, in fact I just turned 40, and I still have kids, they’re just not as little and needy. And I don’t know how to do this new version of me very well.
So where does it leave me?
Floundering and fretting at forty.
How do I incorporate the woman I once was before children and marriage and a mortgage and responsibility into the mother I am now? How can I be both? It feels like a junction and I really don’t know where to go. I think it will be a slow process, done through trial and error and instinct and learning what advice to listen to and what to ignore, just exactly the same way I learned to parent The Girl and then The Boy. It just feels strange this time around, like I’ve done it all before just not in this way, almost like a dream based in reality but somehow disjointed and unreal. There are definitely fewer books offering expert advice for this phase, although if they’re anything like the myriad of generally terrible baby advice books, that’s probably a very good thing. But if anyone wants to throw me some words of wisdom, if anyone has been through this, lived through this and emerged the other side, if anyone is currently going through this and handling it much better than I am, please do shout up. I’m listening. At least my clothes can look forward to this next phase being mostly snot and spat-out-food free. Unless it’s a particularly good night out and it’s mine.