There are days when I crave some alone time. When there isn’t a toddler under my feet, repeatedly saying my name over and over, for seemingly no reason (have you ever watched that scene from Family Guy? When Stewie says ‘mommy?’ over and over and over again? It lasts for what feels like an age, until Lois asks (*screams*) ‘what?!” and Stewie simply says “hi” and runs away giggling. This is what parenthood can sometimes feel like!). So the thought of a child-free 24 hours filled me with glee when Mr Baffled and I were recently invited to a wedding. Not just a wedding, but one kindly requesting that children are left at home, and was taking place over 50 miles away which meant a night away in a hotel – how civilised and grown up! Actually forget the civilised part: how about the lie in?!
So, a set of grandparents had kindly agreed to babysit, the glad rags and heels were out of the wardrobe again, a hotel near to the venue was booked, and into the car we jumped for our child-free 24 hours. B-P and her grandparents set off first that morning, and headed to the Picturehouse to watch Beauty & the Beast.
Mr Baffled and I drove past the cinema as we began our journey, and as I glanced in, I saw B-P’s pram parked in the foyer. I smiled to myself as I imagined her sitting on her booster seat, between her grandparents, staring up at Belle singing about wanting more than this provincial life. And all of a sudden I felt a little sad that I wasn’t in there with them, and a little guilty that we were about to leave her overnight. Now don’t get me wrong: knowing she was safe and in good hands, I shook the sadness off and we carried on with our child-free journey.
Following a gorgeous wedding the reception was in full swing, and as is oft the case, was full of friends we hadn’t seen for ages. iPhones were passed around as people talked about how their kids had grown, and again I found myself wiping away a little mental tear as I thought of B-P and what she might be doing. Now again, don’t get me wrong: knowing she was still safe and still in good hands, I knocked back the champagne and hit the dance floor to shake it off (I feel a Taylor Swift song coming on here but I’ll try and stick to the post…).
The next morning provided a blissfully welcome lie in, adult only conversation over a leisurely breakfast and a nursery rhyme free car journey back into London. And then, when we walked back into the house, B-P came running up to us both, gleefully happy, and excitedly told us all about her time with Nana & Gramps, and how pleased she was that we were home. Everyone was happy (well, my folks were exhausted after 24 hours with a toddler but they were still smiling).
I’ve read a number of blog posts lately about the benefits of taking time away from your toddler, and there were a number of ‘how could you possibly want to leave your children / time and life is precious / they grow so quickly’ comments, berating the writer. If you are blissfully happy in the company of your kids, 24/7 and have zero desire to spend time apart, I salute you. I really do, I take my hat off to you. But for many Parents, myself included, even just a couple of hours away is enough to recharge the batteries, fill the mental well being bucket back up, and have renewed appreciation for the joys your little one can bring. And as a wise friend recently said, kids are not our possessions: they’re human beings who will grow and leave home and live lives of their own. Now, the thought of B-P being all grown up and out in the world on her own can floor me. So aside from her learning the skills she’ll need to negotiate life, I need to get used to the idea that she can manage without me and the constant safety net I aim to provide. And I imagine that’ll be harder for me than her! So a little time apart occasionally, is probably good for both of us.
How d’you feel about time away from your little Button-Pusher?