I was pondering Me yesterday, the pre-child and post child Me, it got me to thinking about the differences between the two. I thought that, despite their differences, they were working in harmony as a team, but I’ve suddenly realised that I’ve lost pre-child Me along the way. I want pre-child Me back, but now I am wondering where I might have left it and, if I did find it, there is a possibility that it might not be fit for purpose anymore.
I came to this parenting thing later in life than some, so I managed to fit in quite a lot of life before popping out the Vintage Two, not that there was much popping involved in their arrival. To say I had life sorted and was in control of it, would not be quite the case, but I was doing OK and I think OK is pretty amazing, when life throws so many things at us. Having children was definitely the best thing ever; I threw myself into it with the usual enthusiasm / obsession that I give to all my new hobbies, business ventures, jobs. I soon discovered though, that this was more than a hobby, more than a full-time job, in fact, more than anything I had ever done before. But I am pleased to say that the obsession and joy both live on. Let’s get back to the differences in me.
Take Friday nights for example; pre-children – we can take it way back to working in a very ‘unique’ pub, where dancing on the bar (that’s me) and running naked around the pool table (not me!) were fairly common place; I could handle the clientele with ease, and some might even say, confidence. If not working, there would be drinking and dancing of some kind. I even used to drag Mr. Vintage Mum out for the occasional dance too. Cut to Friday nights post children; we finally get them to bed around 9, eat in front of Coronation Street (yes, I am that sad that I have it on series record), if I manage to stay awake as late as Graham Norton, that’s pretty much it for the night. But, I can highly recommend ‘This Country’, which, if I am feeling particularly lively, will be the end of the wild Friday night sofa session, post Graham. To be fair, both Friday options have their appeal; absolutely nothing wrong with a quiet night in front of the TV, or a night drinking and dancing. My question is where is the Me that used to be able to manage the drinking and dancing nights? Why can’t I have them both anymore?
The obvious hitch, is that at my age, I might need a set of steps, or a crane to get me onto the bar to dance, and any dancing for more than 5 minutes requires an oxygen mask. So, what are the parent’s alternatives, for those of us too tired to stay awake by the time the clubs open, and are getting up with the children at the time we used to be getting home? One of my favourite options is the neighbours with kids’ option; these are within walking distance (no arguing over who has to drive), ideally the children will be friends, so they are fully entertained while Mum and Dad get drunk (obviously in a very sensible parenting kind of way!), all sets of parents are friends, these gatherings can be unplanned, but last into the small hours. But, and this is the tricky bit, suitable neighbours need to be found in walking distance. Not everyone wants me dancing on their worktops and my children running around like whirlwinds of destruction, it takes a very special kind of neighbour (you know who you are).
I’m talking personally, about school age parenting, but you could easily replace school with baby / toddler groups, to fit your personal circumstances. Another option for a social life is the school Parent’s group outings and the PTA events. I’ve noticed they are no longer called PTAs though, usually, ‘Friends Of….’ But the theme is still the same. You can have the outings where you see Mums letting their hair down on a rare night out, or the PTA events, which I have recently discovered can involve alcohol too in some areas, both provide a relaxed social atmosphere, where I should be able to have fun and relax. This is where I might have discovered that Me is missing. I can do the chat about my children and how wonderfully well they are doing in school, life, clubs, etc. that’s my opinion anyway. But what next? This is where pre-child Me should wake up and get involved, but I’ve found recently that she has left the building. I open my mouth to talk about something other than my gorgeous two and …… nothing, absolutely nothing to give. I can laugh along and come up with enough chat to keep me involved, but where is the interesting part of me that get’s them listening to me and wanting to hear more? I am sure that once, I was able to make people laugh.
(Borrowed pics of gorgeous people having fun, as mine are far less glam)
What about work, is she there? I’ve recently switched from working with children to working with grown-ups again. Working with kids is simple, it’s the post-child Me, she is fine and gets on with it. But grown up jobs are a different thing altogether. I am charging by the hour, (no, it’s not that!), so I need to make sure I earn my hourly rate, but there should still be time for a bit of chat and human engagement. Post-child me is there prattling on about what activity, or costume the vintage two require that day, but come on pre-child Me, think of something, something witty and entertaining…. still nothing!
What has changed since having the adorable duo? Well age happened, and sadly a little sooner than most of the other school parents, it’s a confidence and energy sapper, that’s for sure. Where are the pre-child friends? Most of them had children too and might even be feeling something similar. No jumping in the car for a quick trip to catch up with those long-distance friends; it’s hours of packing, preparing entertainment for the journey and the stay, fighting the weekend, or holiday traffic, with two children winging pitifully as we get stuck in yet another traffic jam. We arrive grumpy and tired, thinking of how little time there is till we have to do it all again to get home. Sadly, long distance friends are now disappearing into the virtual distance, as well as the real distance. I’m still here guys and I will see you on the other side of kids.
Lack of money happened; no one told me how much the little darlings cost, plus when did it get so expensive to go out for a meal and a few drinks? In the early days of me and Mr. VM, many a week night was spent eating out, or having a few drinks after work, that was in the days of two full-time salaries and no childcare costs, so it’s all change now. But to be completely honest, I love the bedtime routine and hate it when I am not here for it. I have just heard her ask if her bum is clean though, that bits not so great!
They are getting older and more independent every day, so very soon, the bedtime routine will be me saying it’s time for bed, them getting on with it, and then me saying goodnight. It would not be the end of the world if I was not there for that, so I need to find Me in time for those days, so that I don’t become that overbearing Mum still clinging onto my teenage daughters, terrified to let them go. If anyone sees a sparkling, witty personality, (I might be slightly over playing pre-child Me’s part, but you get the idea) please throw it my way, so that I can get back out there.