Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm starting with the (wo)man in the mirror

I had a moment this week where I just wanted to be free. It's Friday night, nay evening, at 8pm and I am removing my makeup (just face grime). I was looking in the mirror and was appalled that my face looked like an Ordnance Survey map - where the heck did all these lines come from? I have a deep dent in my forehead which I attribute to my "listening face". I will frown to prove how hard I am listening. Now, only Botox or Stri-Vectin cream can save me. It's not endearing, you CAN see let's move on. So, in my adult way of throwing my toys out of my crib...I decide I just wanted to be free. I didn't want to get into bed just after 10, read for 30 minutes, ask my husband if he was ready to finish reading so I could turn the light out, before checking I had a hairband and tissue under my pillow. It's Friday night, i should be tripping the light fantastic. Not stubbing my toe and sucking air like a dying beast for fear that I will scream bloody murder and wake the baby.
Breaking protocol, I turn off the bathroom light and flomp into bed without a glass of water by my side. Resisting panic, i decide to live on the wild side and risk thirst in the night.

I was reminded of my sister several years back. We had all gathered for a family holiday. Her husband had been unable to attend due to work, so she had brought my young nephew on her own. We were out for dinner in a Mexican restaurant and as the check arrived we saw a band setting up for the evening. My sister wanted to stay. We did not. Her son was tired and asleep on grandma. We thought we should all go home. I remember her asking me to stay out with her. I could have stayed. I should have stayed. But this was pre-baby for me. I lived in New York. A holiday for me meant sleep. I saw something in her face that night. A moment, a fleeting moment of frustration and acceptance.

This week I saw that face looking back at me in the mirror. I remembered my sister. My reaction that night had been the same as when I would read facebook status updates from friends of mine who were mothers. Updates such as "getting ready for a girl's night" or "off on a romantic weekend with my husband", or (Heaven forbid...) "recovering from too much fun the night before". What? I would think? Mothers do that? And, then before you know it, you pass judgment - what sort of a mother does that? Ahh, the pre-baby thinkings of a young woman. All those promises we make about what we will NOT do. We happily sit as judge, jury and executioner only to receive a rude awakening.

Acceptance is of course a mother's middle name. We accept that our dinner is usually cold, our coffee will have been zapped 6 times before it is drained. We accept our hemerrhoids, we name them. When we come in from grocery shopping and all we want to do is pee, we have a choice, we either take our baby on our lap to the toilet or cross our legs and go and change baby's diaper first. Bear in mind, a 30 second pee is sometimes the most glorious alone time so we may not want to rush it.

We accept these frustrations.

It's not about being free to go out, it's about being free of responsibility. And, of course as a mother we are never free of responsibility - we can be miles away, with a dinner fit for a king, a martini so dirty it moves, and you'll bet the cell phone is perched on the table and the conversation skates around the most important person/people in your life. Nevertheless, that change of scenery can do wonders for your sanity and that is freeing in itself. Just knowing that the world won't end without you there feels good (but funnily enough, not as good as you thought).

It doesn't matter how happy you are, that you wouldn't change what you have for all the world... sometimes, just sometimes, you need to take care of yourself so that the baby's face isn't the only one smiling back at you in the mirror.


  1. I follow that old saying "A happy mommy is a happy family" you really need a few hours without responsibility to feel human again, and happy so you can take care of your family!

    And I had to laugh about the glass of water on your bedside, I have that, and lipbalm, so my lips don't get chapped after drinking said water. :)

    great blog, saw you on MBC and now following!

  2. Good relational post! I enjoyed the humor and appreciated every bit of it! I have a 21 year old, a 6 and a 2 year old and there's hardly a moment of peace other than my blogging which I feel guilty from time to time.

  3. I've never been much for going out, but I agree that warm food and solitary bathroom visits are much sought after in the early years. Fortunately, they grow up in no time at all and some peace (although still no quiet for me) returns.

  4. Enjoyed your story. I recently had a night out without the kids & husband. Although I had fun, I still felt the need to return home early to be with my family. I love your statement..."Just knowing that the world won't end without you there feels good (but funnily enough, not as good as you thought)".

    Right now, a reading a good book in a quiet room (with the kids sleeping peacefully in the next room)is heaven!

    Thanks for sharing.

    p.s. I found you via MBC

  5. Hi, I have an award for you! The ‘Superior scribbler’ award. You can pick it up at my blog, under the entry ‘Wow, not just one, but two awards! Thank you!!!’ . And just keep up the great work!

  6. Thank you so much 2be - will repost once i figure it all out! Love your blog too!Congrats on not one but two ;)

  7. wow - love this post, and it's one mothers near and far can relate to.
    I laughed at your nighttime ritual - asking your husband if he's done reading so you can turn the light out, etc...sounds eerily familiar.

    and this "a martini so dirty it moves" - nice image there ;)

    I've got that deep crease in my forehead, and it always catches me by surprised every time I look in the mirror...


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