Having children has changed everything. Nothing in my world looks the same as it did. My house doesn’t look the same. My wardrobe. The contents of my fridge. My face. My hair. My schedule. My thought patterns. Literally... everything is different.
That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, I don’t resent those changes, and if things had remained the same as when I was young, child and care free, I probably wouldn’t be a very good parent. It’s inevitable, when you take on the enormous challenge of caring for and raising a helpless little human, and aiming to do a reasonable job of it, things just have to change.
I can’t spend hours with my nose in a book all night anymore. I can’t drink gin and juice in the middle of the day (some may be able to but I’m a complete lightweight so I’d be in no fit state to keep my kids alive if I did), I can’t have a leisurely bath and spend as long as I want on perfecting my eyeliner or curling my hair or polishing my taps or booking spontaneous trips away.
Most days, I can’t even think straight. The constant toddler whining and baby crying and snack demanding and nappy changing and disaster diffusing...it’s a second by second assault on the consciousness. I wouldn’t be surprised if my IQ since having children has seen a sharp decline. It certainly feels like it.
Some days I will long to feel like I did back then. How I miss all the things that used to make me...me. It seems like there is no room in my new life for me anymore, she just doesn’t get a look in. Even basic things like having a quiet cup of tea are a thing of the past. My every waking thought revolves around the kids. My every action is in service to the kids. My every minute of rest is spent in recovery from the chaos that is the kids. By the time it comes to doing the things that I really wish I could do, silly things really, like paint my nails, I just can’t be bothered. There’s nothing left in me at the end of a long relentless day for it. So it doesn’t happen. And I will glance at my chipped red nail polish from a fortnight ago in the middle of wrestling the baby in to her pyjamas and think ‘when do I get to be me again?’
But the truth is, I don’t think I will ever be that girl again. That’s not to say I won’t be me, just a new me. I will never be carefree again. It’s true what they say, once you have children it’s like your heart leaves your body and walks around in the world. There will always be a part of my mind that is obsessing over them and their needs and their happiness. A me that will probably always look at least a little dishevelled and tired. My body will never look the same. My house may one day look as neat and tidy as it once did - but that is the day I will probably break down in tears that my babies have flown the nest. And I will be a whole new kind of hot mess.
What I’m trying to say is, I will never be the same again. And I don’t want to be.
I do need to start asking for help, and allowing myself to take a break and do the little things that make me feel human again, that make me feel like a woman and a wife and a friend and a sister and everything other than just a mother.
But in the grand scheme of things, this crazy, sleepless, chaotic, messy, exhausting life is exactly what I want and the woman running on empty with her unwashed hair in a messy bun sipping her cold tea between nappy changes is me now. Me in all my mothering glory. And I wouldn’t change it. And one day I will wish for it all over again. One day I will look back and think ‘if only I could be that me again.’ So I’m going to embrace it and enjoy it for everything that it is and everything it has made me.
But I’m painting my nails this week. No excuses.
Ever After With Kids