On Having No Life

My name is Amber and I have no life. I haven’t seen a play in living memory. The last movie I saw in the theatre was Wall-E, with my then 3-year-old. I occasionally brave lunch in a restaurant when I have only one kid with me, and I eat more take-out than I’d like, but I’ve had precisely one dinner in a restaurant in the past 14 months. And, during that lone dinner, someone complained about being seated near my children. In short, I live a very typical lifestyle as the mom of two small kids.

I didn’t plan it this way. When I was pregnant with my first child I had visions of how I would retain my independence. I would start by leaving the baby for half an hour to run out on a quick errand. Gradually, I would work up from there, until I could do something really crazy like take a class in the evenings. In my mind I thought that the time apart would be good for both of us. It would give my child a chance to bond with Jon or the grandparents, and it would give me a chance to have some time to myself. Win-win, right?

Real life didn’t work out the way I’d planned. When I was a brand-new mom I kept thinking that I would take my child out more ‘later’, when I was less nervous. Only, by the time ‘later’ came she was mobile and sort of loud. Plus, she screamed if I was out of her sight, at all, ever. And then I went back to work, and the time that I wasn’t working was spent with my kiddo. Along the way I found that previously straightforward activities like getting my teeth cleaned require Herculean feats of planning. And even when you finally get the plans in place your child cries through the whole appointment while your husband desperately tries to entertain the little angel in the waiting room. It just all adds up to not much in the way of ‘me time’.

When Hannah was a toddler the whole situation reached a point where it really started to grate on my nerves. Someone would invite me out for coffee and I would have to decline because I couldn’t leave my kid. And if I brought my kid I couldn’t enjoy the outing while my 2-year-old was bent on destroying everything in sight. I really missed my freedom. I missed the way I could just pick up and go at a moment’s notice without a diaper bag and a change of clothes and 15 snacks and the right music for the car. And I didn’t see how I would ever get that freedom back.

But you know what? In spite of my doubts, my first kid got older. She eventually reached the stage where she pushed me out the door when we dropped her off for sleepovers at her grandparents. These days, my husband handles bedtime, and I just kiss her goodnight. She handles her own bathroom trips and she prints her own name. Sure, I’m still her mom, but she doesn’t have the same intense need for me at 4 1/2 that she did at 1 1/2.

Jacob is now 14 months old and I am once again in the thick of it. If my toddler can’t see me he wails so pitifully the very heavens weep. Once again I receive invitations that I must decline because I can’t bring my kid, and I can’t enjoy myself if I know he will be at home crying for me the whole time. Sometimes I’m disappointed that I have to turn down something fun, I’ll admit it. But overall it’s much easier for me this time through, because I know it will end. Soon enough Jacob will also be pushing me out the door so he can enjoy some quality time with someone much more fun than me.

So if you invite me out someplace and I decline, you can rest assured that it is not you or your event. It is simply the space that I am in right now, and I would love to take a raincheck for another year or two from now. Hopefully the world will still be out there waiting for me sometime in 2011.

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    Comments

    1. Shall we make a date for tea in, say, the fall of 2011?

    2. I'll be there with bells on! Assuming, you know, they still have bells in 2011. ;)

    3. I read the link to someone complained, and thought, good grief, why don't you go to A BAR if you don't want to see childer?

    4. So funny! I'm having the same feelings over here! I was so excited to know I'm not the only one who cringes at the idea of a dinner out. (Which I have to do tonight for an 80th birthday party! (already planning the toys which can and can't come!))

    5. world calling – still here! not planning on going anywhere without you
      .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..last chance to see =-.

    6. omg you post brought me back to when my 6 year old was little and our first visit to a restaurant. Of course I was a little anxious about the whole thing as she wasn’t walking yet and didn’t like sitting in the highchair for very long. She was 9 months old and we were going to a large group event – my BIL’s birthday. I’ll give you the short version. She choked on a chip and threw up everywhere and after that was cleaned up, she spilled my entire beverage all over the table/floor. That was the last time we went out for lunch as a family except for McDonalds. ;)

    7. I guess I get to count myself lucky enough to have kids who were more than willing to hang out with Nana by the time they were a year old.

      I still don’t get much “me” time and actually feel quite guilty when I get out by myself for an hour or so to do something totally mundane like grocery shopping. (my recent shopping trip to Metrotown WITHOUT my kids was a weird experience.)

      I’m really missing the gym lately and I wish I could “do coffee” with a girlfriend but most nights I’m so tired I just want to crawl into bed.

      We’ll make plans for summer 2011 to jet off somewhere fabulous and leave our kids with grandparents or something :)
      .-= Carrie´s last post ..Open (and Closed) Door Policy =-.

    8. I know what you mean. In fact, I’m probably the worst. To avoid the trouble and headache, I don’t even leave the house most of the time. If I do, it is just for a walk. I’m not sure but our guy might be even more attached to us since he doesn’t see anyone else. None of our family live near us and we don’t see friends anymore. Because of all this, I’m scared to find a babysitter. Therefore, it looks like we will have to pass on my husband’s staff xmas party :(.. and I so love staff xmas parties!
      .-= mommyingaround´s last post ..He’s walking! =-.

    9. ah yes, this sounds about right. except we have one local restaurant the kids do well at. and the bean has never been away from me for a night…

      so, 2011 then?

      although i kinda wish the pea would tone down her hysterics a little bit now and then so i could at least fold some laundry.

    10. Christine says:

      very well put i can 100% understand that:) our time will come soon.

    11. oh, dear. you’re scaring me now. my son has just turned 9 months, and I’m about to leave him for the first time for 36 hours. Honestly, though, I’m more concerned for my husband than my son. My son may cry, but eventually he’ll fall asleep and maybe get over the trauma one day with lots of therapy. My husband … may never let me leave the house again.

      So far, though, we’ve had pretty good luck with babysitters and the occasional “family dinner” at a restaurant, but I fear those days are coming to an end. Last weekend we went out for a movie and dinner, but only got through the movie before we had to come home and relieve our exhausted babysitter. Junior had cried for two hours. Are we looking at two more years of this? That might nip the idea of having a second child…

    12. I only wish my son was like your daughter! If i forget to tell him I am leaving he stops me driving away and runs outside screaming and I have seen him and gone to console him, but other times I am oblivious or he didnt see me in time to run after me. I always thought he would be kicking me out but he isn't. He likes to stay with his grandparents but they let him eat anything he wants and play video games however long I am gone. So relish in the small feats as you are and hopefully you son will be like your daughter cause mine isn't! He only liked leaving me for Mother's Morning Out the first week or so, then it was a struggle. So much for attachment parenting creating a stable child, lol, as he isn't that yet. But since he may be my last it's nice at times that he isn't quite ready to be on his own yet.

    13. I never minded getting out with ONE baby..but yeah when they get mobile or you have more..you are totally screwed.

      Now I find that anything I would LIKE to do completely clashes with school pick up times…which leaves my weeks to be really monotonous.

      Evenings are out as they are crazy busy with readings and baths etc.

      So yeah..becoming a total shut in!
      .-= Crunchy´s last post ..Ah Those Were The Days =-.

    14. I love this. I know my time is coming. Sometimes I just wish it would come now!
      .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Cut =-.

    15. Thank you for writing this. My son is 23 months old, and although he’s very independent, between working full-time and trying to run the most basic of errands and cleaning my house, it seems like I’ll never get any “me time” again. My husband and I are planning to start for baby #2 in August, and although I really want a second kid, the thought of starting all over when it’s just starting to get a bit easier is daunting. Thanks for putting into words how I’ve been feeling lately.

    16. I feel fortunate that neither of my girls wailed for me if I walked out of the room. It would have been nice though to have them weep a tear every once in while though.

      We also get out to restaurants often and even to nice ones (you know, ones without play places in them). The things that I appreciate the most though are the ability to zip up their own coats, pants and do the buttons on their pants. I love that I carry only my purse and not a huge bag. I love that they can mostly get their own shoes and coats on before we get out the house.

      There are so many more milestones I am looking forward to, like tying shoes with laces and brushing their own hair and teeth. But, that will come in time.

      As for droping them off at their grandparents…you are lucky there. I have only ever been away from the girls on 3 nights in 4 plus years. It isn’t that we don’t try…we just don’t have any place to drop them…and leaving them at home alone will wind me up in jail!

    17. I feel for you! and I totally understand. We’re in a window where things are actually going smoothly. We made two outings with the boys on Saturday that weren’t kid-oriented (a dance rehearsal and a memorial) and they did fine. I was amazed, relieved, thankful, all of that. When the 18 month old gets clingy, at least I know this time that we’ll get past it.

      Hey, maybe we can meet up in 2011!
      .-= Lady M´s last post ..Anatomy and Patriotism Lessons =-.

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