But what if I don't like myslef?
‘I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.’
- Albert Einstein
And so it begins. Tomorrow I go on holiday by myself. Completely and utterly alone. This isn’t a ‘girlie’ holiday (remember I don’t have girls, read about that here), this isn’t a romantic holiday and thankfully this is not a trip involving the burial of a loved (or not so loved) one. This trip in it’s entirety is for me.
Now before I get into the nuts and bolts of my anxiety let me lead by saying I am grateful to God, the universe and all humans involved in making this happen. I know that there are people, women, mothers more stressed than I who would jump on that plane in a moment without so much as a pang of guilt. So goodness knows how blessed I am. But this week I’ve felt everything except grateful.
Lets start with the first word ‘Guilty'. Of course I feel guilty. Esme is three and I am her mother. How will she possibly continue to breathe when there is an ocean between us? This thought is given power when my very old school grandmother doesn’t hesitate to say that she took her children 'wherever' she went as that was her 'duty' as a mother. Ouch. Does wanting space mean that I’m not a good mother? Will the wheels of my parenting train fall off if I dare step away from caregiving duty for a week? Does not trusting Papa B with the total care of Esme undermine his parenting skills? So many questions. But that last one especially, I have words for that.
Children can be parented solely by fathers and grow up to be well rounded, functioning human beings. This is a fact. The social norm which encourages sometimes the impossible ideal that the mother of said child must be present 24hrs a day is not only untrue, it is damaging. Lastly the feminist fairy God mother within mewould give every woman a week off with pleasure as she knows too well that Father’s are just as capable as mothers.
I know that time away from the parenting playing field is needed. As of late, Esme and I have just been going through the motions, having fallen into a pattern consisting of Mummy screeching ‘eat your weetabix’ over the edge of a laptop. Last night after I shooed her to bed for the 8th time, she sheepishly crept out saying ‘Mummy, I want another hug but put your laptop down this time’ Unbeknown to her that assessment stung and the hug on offer quickly stifled the pain her honesty had caused.
I’m always working. On a permeant hustle not just too collect those dollar bills but also to feel as though I’m more than just a mother. But even I must admit it feels that I do more hustling than mothering these days. And whilst I know her watching mummy make a ‘mockle from a mickle’ will be a great inspiration in years to come, right now in these years, her most formative and precious, she just needs some cuddles. And I’ve got to work on understanding that work will always be there. Baby girl will not.
Space, I love the stuff. Much to Papa B’s annoyance. I prefer not to talk. This too is common knowledge amongst the few friends I have. One must send Candice a text to make an appointment to call, if not I will let the phone ring out to thy kingdom come as I have not prepared my sharing self. You know that self that will allow you to open up more space to listening to your friends problems or offering advice? Yeah that one. Such self dependent upon energy reserves which I need to know aren’t in the red before I communicate. I love my ‘space’ or at least I thought I did. Because as tomorrow draws near I’m suddenly filled with anxiety and dare I say it fear about being alone. I’ve tried to sensibly pick these fears apart. I have no fear of flying, in fact since I was Esme's age, nothing thrills me more than the plane ride. It cannot be that I’m going to a foreign country alone. At least with this country the first and only language is English, unlike when I ran off to be an au pair in Napoli. But could it be that I’m petrified about being with my own thoughts, answering my own questions and not being able to drown my own voice in the mundane tasks of the routine or worse still the mundane voices of others?
DING! DING! DING!
I am petrified of ‘soul searching’ whilst I like to think I’m all about that life, let me be clear I am a city hippie. Doing just the right amount of yoga and meditation so I can be seen a centred and ‘woke’ without actually digging into the crevices of my soul where I have hidden things so wild and detrimental to spiritual growth that it is no wonder I feel suffocated and stagnant.
(you see that’s why I don’t dig! Look how deep that got!)
In those moments when I’m not sightseeing, taking pictures or visiting family. I will be completely and utterly alone without enough data or strong enough wi-fi connection to distract me from myself. And that scares me shitless.
But it is so necessary. I’ve often said that this final year before I turn 30 was monumental for me, for my family. And it still is. But how dare I ask the universe for Gold, when I don’t even want to clean up my own shit.
So it’s happening. And whilst it’s happening I’m thinking of all the women I know, in the real and virtual world who really need their time, some space, a moment to come up for air so they don’t drown in their own thoughts or worse still the thoughts and needs of others.
Woman to woman, all I can do is encourage you to take time out for yourself. I don’t mean self care, you know those rushed 90mins in a shitty vibrating pedicure chair, where you choose shellac over normal nail varnish cause you have to get the kid from school in 40mins and the lady tending to you is not respecting your time. Not that. I mean the time and space to figure out who you are irrespective of the kids, what you're doing apart from four loads of washing and an online grocery shop and where you’re going other than on the school run or to get that smear you've been avoiding. Cause those things, the needs, wants and thoughts that are far too often shrouded by the day to day need to always be ON, those are the things that will remind us of the women we wanted to be before life got in the way. And that is not to say you don’t like your life as it is but imagine if you could love it?
Yeah, that’s a great feeling.
And one I pray is felt by us all.