Stockholm Syndrome. I have it.
Definition: Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor. (Google Dictionary).
It occurred to me on Saturday, when I was happily driving out the road from Gort – a few jobs under my belt, shop done for Sunday dinner, a loud-music-disco-in-the-car. I was glad to have had the couple of hours on a Saturday all to myself – even if it was doing chore-type stuff. I hadn’t even felt a pang when passing The Gallery, a favourite café, to go for a coffee. Jaykers! – how had it taken me so long to realise? I was just where they wanted me.
It wasn’t always this harmonious. When our first was born, I found it the toughest aspect of being a new parent to navigate – that vying for ‘me’ time. Tending to an adorable barnacle all week made me long for time in the outside world, alone. Sounds basic, but I found it impossible to articulate to my husband how important this was to my very sanity. Pre-baby, I’d kept myself in balance by going off and doing whatever I wanted to do without explanation or request. But a shared baby sparks competition for free time. At the weekend he needed to cut the grass or call up to check on the farm or do a few hours work – all worthy ‘stuff’, but his list of jobs showed up my request to merely sit still in a café, solo, as a bit of indulgent fluff. When I did manage to steal some time away I felt bad it was at the expense of my husband’s precious weekend time. We weren’t in the hang of having to glean favours in order to do what we’d always done as independent adults. The negotiations were exhausting.
It’s hard to describe that need to be out of the house sans bébé to someone you know is trying to believe you are as busy as you say you are and appear to be every day – but it’s just one, tiny baby, after all – and you have all day… How hard can it be?
When said first born was two months old, we went on a night away to celebrate our first wedding anniversary – that night you get for ‘free’ when you book your wedding reception to come back a year later. To say it was much anticipated, would be like saying that Italia ’90 was a bit of craic. I COULD NOT WAIT. I had lost the run of myself and even booked a facial for that day, but by 10am the logistics of the day/night were starting to get on top of me. Don’t laugh, but the hotel was literally 2 miles from where we lived (wedding had been a local shindig you understand) and so my plan was for Alan to mind the small man while I went for my treatment, transporting him to the hotel for lots of post-facial feeding in the luxurious surroundings of our lovely hotel room so that we could drop him over to my mother’s house, our babysitter for our ‘complementary’ dinner, before we collected him to spend the night at the hotel.
My preparations had been intense and very much focussed around a week of furiously pumping milk to have on stand-by for when I wasn’t attached to the baby. (Furiously pumping equals about 1oz of breast milk every second day. Pumping is HARD). The packing effort was immense and the logistics of how I could create a timetable around a tiny baby with no timetable had me in knots of anxiety – but I soldiered on. I needed this night away.
I cannot remember what my husband had on that day, but I’ll grant him it was worthy. (Actually, come to think of it it was horse racing related, so my patience was wearing thin). He arrived back slightly (in my panic-stricken head, much) later than anticipated, leaving me to hurl instructions at him about my leaving in 15 minutes for a facial to calm me the hell down and requesting he follow on and check in with bubs so that he could feed IMMEDIATELY after my facial if need be. (I was regretting the 1.5 hours allotted – the frenzy a breastfeeding mother feels that her baby will need to feed and she won’t be there is beyond words).
“I’d say I won’t be ready by then. Can’t you just have your treatment and come back here afterwards and we’ll all go together?”
How do you explain to somebody just how incredibly impossible it is to get your post-baby head around leaving the house? How? How could I communicate my sheer joy at the thought of ascending from the spa in a lift, in a robe and going directly to my room versus the hell of quickly getting dressed in the pool changing rooms to rush home (with wet tangly hair) in order to re-leave the house? How had it come to this – where I depended on someone else to support my plan for the day? I burst into tears. I still cannot put into words my requirement to get away, be away and stay away for a time – and I needed the team to tow the line.
I was sobbing (not unusual). “Once I leave, I need to not have to come back here and leave again”. I was beside myself. “I need to be away.”
Needless to say Plan A was revisited.
We’ve come a long way since – as that irritating saying goes “there’s no I in team”. Barfy, but true. It’s now less of a competition for time and we do our best to work off the basis of ‘OK, we both have things we want to do this weekend – how do we manage it?’ But more than that, I’ve found my groove – or at least a groove. I’ve become accustomed to no me-time, no out-for-coffee, no mooch-around-town-on-a-Saturday. So I guess I just don’t miss it or need it as much – and when it does arise, I’m more grateful than ever.
I don’t know if this is the right way to be – but it sure makes the whole experience of being tied (in the nicest possible way) to small children that little bit easier to accept and ultimately enjoy.
Back to last Saturday.
“Did you stop into The Gallery?”
“No – I should have, but I said I’d get back. Actually I really think I may be suffering from a kind of Stockholm Syndrome – there’s a blog post in it somewhere.”
“Yeah, right,” he chuckled.
I love him, but some things he’s just never gonna get.
Early Days As A New Mother – “Just get me out of the house!”
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