It’s the end of a long, “If Carlsberg did bank holidays…” weekend. The sun came out again and again. We pottered by the river and taught the little man how to ride his scooter. I went for two jogs, both times running faster than the time before. After a shaky few weeks (months? Maybe months) the big man and I actually talked. And laughed and watched trashy movies and ate cake and ice cream and laughed some more.
Now I’m on the early morning underground, and I have the back to school blues. I start a new role today, which is making me nervous. And, if I’m being completely honest, a little disappointed – it’s a sideways move, when it’s about time I looked for an upwards one. I’m not dreading the office though. Grown up conversation that doesn’t eventually wind up back about the little man will be refreshing. I have a few coffees with friends booked in, and a new album on my phone.
There are lots of reasons that I went back to work after the little man. Some easy to justify, some so tightly wrapped up in my own sense of self that I don’t want to explore them in case something unravels. But if I stripped them all away, if I found a way to overcome all those reasons, what would keep me in the office is the loneliness of motherhood.
I expected maternity leave to be full of leisurely coffees and baby classes; new mum friends and cuddles and giggles. A lot of that happened. But parenting days are so long. So damn long. If you over schedule them, you end up with a fractious baby and debilitating mum guilt. So no matter how many “mum dates” you build in, there are long, long hours staring at this amazing thing you created, and wondering what the hell you’re doing. I don’t mind being alone; but I long for another adult to be next to me when the little man throws his dinner at the wall. When I run out of steam and halfway through the wheels on the bus can’t remember what I’m singing. Or where I am.
So that’s what I’m dreading this morning. The big man is going for drinks tonight, so the evening shift is mine alone. And it’ll be fine. In parts it’ll be lovely – the little man will tell me a hilarious story. And he’s free with his great big smacking kisses and strangling cuddles like never before. But it’s just better with somebody else there.
The logistics that make our days work depend on us as individual parents. I left the big man dragging himself out of bed this morning; he will get both himself and the little man ready alone until he hands over to nursery. I will pick him up alone; decide on dinner and baths and stories by myself. It’s fine: but the last four days have been much, much better than fine.
Single parents, I salute you. We don’t have access to the village that should raise a child; but it’s at least better with two.