I finished reading a novel the other day, the first in just over three years since my youngest child was born. I have loved reading since I was a kid and always somehow found time to fit it in until my life was so full that it became one of the many things that as parents we sacrifice in order to make space for our little brood. There’s an old saying that when one door closes another one opens, and all religious beliefs aside, becoming a parent can feel like the opposite of this at times. Opening the door to raising children appears to shut the doorways to what feels like a past life. Here’s a list of some of the things that have disappeared from this phase of my life: The Stretch-Mark Era.
Reading books – as mentioned above, the only books that I have read for fun have been while on holiday in a tropical paradise with no kids so it doesn’t count. What happened on the island stays on the island.
Playing sport – since I was 8 years old I played netball every year when living locally, and random other sporting practices, adventures and experiences were common until I had to bring my very own cheering squad with me. It got old quick.
Going out – hubby and I were out every weekend for something or other before this phase, and technically we still are out most weekends now, but softplay and parks have replaced restaurants and clubs.
Having nice stuff – it was easier to be indulgent back in the day to put on that lush perfume and shiny heels, carrying a nice little handbag that doesn’t way a tonne, all gone from everyday life today. My handbag (just like yours I’ll bet) is a mountain containing snack food, toys and tissues. Glass has been replaced with plastic, heels for ugg boots, (the perfume I still use to mask the fact I don‘t shower as regularly as I used to) I don’t even have any good scissors anymore!
Music – both listening to and going to live events, both I loved, both are sidelined by the importance of getting a good night’s sleep to get up for an 8am soccer match the next day.
Regular breakfast – and lunch and dinner for that matter, how many times have your insides been eating themselves because you realise that it’s 3pm and you haven’t managed to eat yet? No matter how much time I spend in the kitchen, I am still too easily distracted and forget to refuel.
Buying flowers – kinda goes along with the Having of Nice Stuff. It represents those occasional luxury items that these days only get in the way of the train tracks, craft boxes and seas of Lego.
Painting my nails – not only is it our fingers and toenails that are missing out, so are our eyebrows, armpits and legs, skin in general and hair left unwashed for days on end.
Going to the toilet alone – or with the door closed is a thing of the past. I love it when we have friends over and there I sit with the door shut (shock horror), only to be interrupted by a kid asking why I have the door closed!
Having a bath – even though I have continued to have baths on rare occasion, it just isn’t the same, too noisy, too many things demanding the end to personal time and space.
Personal time and space – in which would (if it existed anymore) be dedicated to the list above.
Having reached the milestone of first novel both started and finished for the first time in three years has made me wonder if there is an inkling of my life coming back to me. My toddler is a preschooler now, and I’m not planning on returning to the sleepless nights and breastfeeding that is “the newborn haze”. Maybe now I am entering the phasing-back-in end of the line, although I can’t help but wonder if in a few years time I will be making another list of things I did before I had teenagers. Yikes.
Emma Eastman 2014