11 Feb 2011
This week I couldn’t work out what was the matter with me. This week was supposed to be great. I was supposed to be enjoying myself on my two days off, doing interesting things, being alone! Instead I walked past every single person with a child in tow thinking, oh what a lovely kid, or oh look at that poor mother trying to drink her coffee, or look at that dad with three (!) kids hanging off him. All the while all these people who I passed, and was rudely staring at, were thinking, my god, I hope that deranged woman doesn’t come and steal my children. Because, of course, none of them would know I had a child who I had just left at childcare. None of them know that I usually drag my toddler around just as they were doing. I wasn’t wearing a sign saying – yes I am a mother too. I was just me. With regular clothes on and a regular handbag – no nappy bag, no chuck down my back, no snot on my sleeve. Just me.I had forgotten how to just be me. I didn’t disappear or fade out, I was still there. The guy in the coffee shop didn’t know, the woman at the supermarket didn’t know, all the people on the street didn’t know. Only I knew that day that I was trying to remember how to just be me.
I felt like lead. My heart was heavy. I have not enjoyed things I would usually have been excited about doing without a toddler clinging to me. I hated them all. I didn’t enjoy my coffee, I didn’t like the free time. It felt all wrong. I wasted the whole day. I had a crisis of confidence in my ability as a mother. I felt like I was abandoning my child to child care – to others, to a miserable day, to institutions, to not liking his lunch.
Some people knew. Robert knew – he always knows. The other mamas knew. They understood. I saw myself reflected back to me in the other mamas. They were all feeling the same. Wishing it were ok but not really feeling it was ok. Missing the kids. These kids who have been ever present, right there with us every second to the point of mental and physical exhaustion, and back again, were once again, tugging at our hearts. As one of my best mama friends put it, ‘you’ve been a team and now your buddy isn’t there’. She’s right. We are both joining new teams. Branching out on our own, one of us for the first terrifying time; the other one of us is going to childcare twice a week.