Before becoming pregnant and having my hormones completely flood my system, I have to admit, I used to be quite cynical about how much ‘baby’ becomes the only topic of discussion and the over riding part of parents lives. As a rather selfish individual in my early/mid twenties, I didn’t want to see my friends that I’d previous spent hours chatting about the new series of Grey’s Anatomy with and/or nights out filled with hilarious stories and capers, only to then be sitting there hearing about their pride and joy had managed to burp after eating. Frankly I went to University with plenty of people who could boast the same and I wasn’t impressed when they did it, let alone a baby that stopped us going on exciting fun filled trips out.
Then I became pregnant, and not even slowly, my brain got saturated with thoughts of my growing child, family days and the wonderful magic that becoming a family unit brings. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with my friends without children, absolutely not, but this is the biggest thing to happen in my life so far and therefore does tend to dominate my thoughts and definitely shapes my activity choices. However, I remain steadfast in my opinion that parents weren’t born the day they became parents, and our individual personalities are not just important to preserve but I feel can make us better parents when honoured.
On Saturday, I hosted a Masquerade Ball and I have to admit; after a pretty rubbish nights sleep on Friday night, the idea of getting dressed up, dancing around a bit and lasting till the midnight finish time, made me feel even more tired! Had I not been in charge of organising and running it, I would have definitely thought twice about going. But, I had an absolute blast! Dressed up in a new dress, (albeit one that protruded much more round the stomach than the last time I dressed up for a night out!) hair not only washed, but brushed and even styled(!) with a bit of make-up on, I suddenly realised how little I’d paid to my appearance in recent months. A new kind of exhaustion has kicked in recently and doing anything more than using a hairband to control my mane of frizzy curls was very far down my list of things to do when any shortcut was appreciated. But now looking at myself in the mirror, I realised how much of a boost it gave me to look a bit more human again! The band were brilliant, there was a sword fighting display and magician that delighted us all and overall it was so nice to be out and enjoying myself. I even found myself having quite a few conversations that weren’t baby based! For one evening, I wasn’t a tired Mother to be worrying about a million different things, I was an individual enjoying a night out with her husband and friends. And although crawling into bed at 1am was definitely felt the next day, in a completely different way I was totally energised and very much refreshed!
As I type this, I have to admit I’m sat in my pyjamas, no makeup on with my hair tied back in a ponytail, so it’s not like I’ve found a brand new resolve to dress up and party on each and every day! It’s one thing wanting to preserve your own identity outside of being a parent but quite another to ignore the fact that you’re a parent and not accept that life IS different! I’m still not sleeping well, and pregnancy really does take it out of you!
My point is that it’s still important to sometimes remind yourself of who you still are, and do a few things to still enjoy that person. My husband and I have just under 4 months together as a couple before the baby comes along and changes our lives even more so than she has already! And although it’s tiring, we need to try and make the most of that. In fact even when the baby arrives, after the initial period of time it will take to adjust to that lifestyle, we still need to try and schedule in sometime when the Grandparents, or other family or friends can spend some time with the little one and we can steal a little bit of time away as a couple and/or see some friends and not necessarily talk about how cute her little hands are etc etc. Not easy to do but very worth it and I truly believe it’ll make those really difficult times slightly easier.
The parents that constantly talk about their children all the time are in no way bad people, in the same way that those that don’t want to be involved with children because last minute holidays and nights out are more of a priority are also not bad people. Your thirties tend to be the decade where you start to lean towards one end of the spectrum or the other. But for those of us who want to, I do believe there’s a middle. One where family time is absolutely cherished, but you also sometimes (although it can’t quite be as spontaneous as the childfree years!) find yourself at the bar past 9pm or leave the house child free without a baby changing bag ready for any eventuality (after arranging child care of course, please don’t take this as advice to leave them at home whilst you run off on an adventure!)
So if you get invited to an event that you’d usually think, ‘God no, I’ve got nothing to wear/haven’t had much sleep this week/forgotten where my hairbrush is,’ maybe just take a minute and think about the last time you did something that you know deep down you’d enjoy or even did something by yourself or with your partner. Why not at least make a couple of calls about a family member or friend babysitting, and go for it, you may just be surprised that it’s just the thing you needed! We all need to let our hair down sometimes comrades!