Deep in my heart – in my soul – I’m a very content loner. I like to sit alone, just thinking, daydreaming… or not. I’m pretty nifty at staring genuinely blankly, my brain all a-whirr with silence. If I were Oprah, the emergence of the acronym JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) would have represented a lightbulb moment, as it finally articulated my love of cancelled plans, quiet weekends and a blank diary. None of this is to say I don’t enjoy the company of my family and friends. I’m not saying I’m a recluse. I’m just very happy alone. It’s a good thing people, because at the end of the day we’re all kind of loners, really. As Kurt Cobain once chanted, ‘all alone is all we are’.
And so the irony of my day job is not completely lost on me. A job that’s physically and emotionally all-encompassing with no breaks (I include loo breaks here) and so little personal space your thoughts come out all jumbled. One of my most serious work hazards is the potential to fall over a child as they randomly sprawl in my line of walking or cling to my legs and even (especially) when I’m laden down carrying stuff, they will insist on being carried too. They’ll always prefer sleeping in your bed, eating from your spoon and sitting on your lap. Children like to stay close – they’re weird that way.
They also like to be bossy. I’m no longer allowed to take a phone call, listen to the radio, have a conversation with another adult, eat goodies in open view (without sharing, obvs), have a nice sit down or partake in any loner-type activity in general. They won’t stand for it and it can be pretty overwhelming, to say the least.
And I suppose it’s only natural, that tiny human beings that emerged from your being, will take a while to separate. They’re feeling out the world, learning to stand on their own two feet in every sense of the phrase and are slowly, almost imperceptibly, moving away from you. The detachment process is ongoing.
I had my own encounter with detachment today in the guise of a bra. A particularly ugly, greying feeding bra to be specific, but also very comfy, and filled with nostalgia. I’m at the almost-8-month mark with the baby and breastfeeding is speeding up and phasing out with the introduction of veggies and fruit and bits of toast. I’ve been happily dipping back into my underwired stash, where fashion and function have an equal say and I hadn’t even missed this once relied-upon piece of underclothing, until today, when I decided after dutifully supporting me (pardon the pun) through three babies it could be sent for recycling. Only it hasn’t made it there yet. It’s in what will now be known as ‘bra limbo’ up on a dresser in my bedroom – too prized to go to the black bag down stairs; too far gone to go back into the drawer.
I find detaching difficult.
The boy will start school in September. I was starting to get fierce maudlin about it until my husband simply said; ‘It’s great isn’t it? It’ll be great for him’.
‘Yes’, I said, committing to throwing myself into enjoying this next exciting step.
I once received some good advice ahead of my wedding day – and that is, feelings can sometimes be a choice you make. You can choose to bawl your way up the aisle or you can decide to smile your way through your day, enjoying the happy occasion. I recall this a lot in relation to mothering and am trying hard to choose the smiling path. The path of happiness and joy and welcome in the face of next steps and new stages. It’s a work in progress. So while I genuinely look forward to the opportunity to indulge my loner-side in time spent alone, staring into space wearing a sexy underwired bra, I’ll give myself a minute to pause over the little things that mark my moving through motherhood.
A fellow stay at home parent recently said to me that in order to be able to stay at home full time with small children, you really need to like being in your own company.
Ironically, a loner could choose worse than being immersed in tiny people.
Happy Mother’s Day to all negotiating the return to loner-hood.