by NAOMI COTTERILL
“But I wanna to go to the parrrrrk!”
Those were the words that rang out through our flat earlier this morning. Was this a plea from a bored toddler, sick of being confined to a two bedroom flat with a serious lack of outside space? Or perhaps a teenage socialite desperate to join everyone else rocking Supre’s latest line down at the local playground on a Friday night?
As it happens, I am neither. These were the words that escaped my mouth, a grown up, tax paying, job holding mother, complete with an annunciated ‘r’ and a furrowed brow that would put both the cranky toddler and petulant teenager to shame.
Why the desperation to visit the park? Well I have a 7 month old. This in itself is probably reason enough, especially for anyone else blessed with a little darling around the same age.
Truthfully though, it runs a little deeper than that.
Like every second teenager, desperate to escape on a Friday night, to hang with their friends, gossip and giggle, free of the responsibilities (if you can call them that) of the week past, I craved the same thing. I wanted to get out of a flat filled with baskets of washing to be hung, dishwashers to be emptied and double 00 onesies to be put away. I wanted to meet my friends, also new(ish) mums and drink a large cappuccino (full fat, I live life on the edge) in the sunshine.
Most of all, if I’m honest I wanted to escape the monotony of home and a whingey baby and do something for me. Something where I could pretend, if only for 45 minutes, that nothing had changed. That I could go out and drink coffee at my leisure, taking 5 minutes or 50 minutes, perhaps even ordering a second, or something on the side, and finishing every last drop while it was deliciously, tongue scorchingly hot. I wanted to do what I wanted not what needed to be done. I guess you could say that I wanted to put my needs first, something that doesn’t come easily for anyone wearing the mummy hat.
The problem lay in the shape of a 7 month old that wasn’t really down with going out. A morning without sleep, a messy lunch which managed to completely obliterate the second clean outfit of the morning and a general desire to be a bit of a (very cute) rat bag meant that the park and all the delights it had to offer wasn’t going to work for us. And I wasn’t happy. I really wanted to go.
Prior to reaching this point in my crash course in being a mum, I would have gone anyway, cranky baby be damned. The first few months of my baby’s life were chock full of outings, I probably would have jumped at the chance to visit an abattoir if it offered coffee and company, so desperate was I to connect with other people and hold onto some semblance of normality, of my ‘old life’ (not that I visited abattoirs often, or at all, though there WAS one across the road from my high school, that’s another story though).
I’m positive I’m not the only new mum who has packed their days so full of ‘stuff’ that they haven’t had time to blink, let alone settle into regular, everyday life with a baby. Being home alone can be isolating and down right terrifying.
So we strap our babies into their strollers and slings and venture out into the world. Getting out, meeting new friends, staying active is crucial in those hazy first weeks and months, good for both body and mind.
The tricky part comes though when our babies are suddenly not easily transportable newborns anymore and need some form of routine, along with regular sleeps, meals of more than milk and a fair bit of down time in the day to prevent catastrophic meltdowns from both parties.
What I want and what my son wants and needs sometimes align, either naturally or because I’ve given it a helping hand. The rest of the time though, it doesn’t and it’s really tough trying to find that balance between doing what I like, and often need to do, either for my own sanity or to ensure there’s food in big and little mouths and money in the bank, and what my son wants and needs. It’s a work in progress.
We never did get to the park. And as much as I huffed and puffed and perhaps even shed a sooky little tear, I’m ok with that. In this instance, what he needed (sleep and more than 15 minutes of it) trumped what I wanted (coffee and more than one cup of it). There will be times I’m sure when it’s the other way round and the juggling act will continue.
Naomi is a freelance writer, magazine gal and mum to baby Oliver and cats Oscar and Felix. She spends most of her time muddling her way through motherhood and blogging about the results. You can follow her on twitter @NaomiCotterill or check out her blog notjustamummy.com
You can also read more from Naomi on iVillage here
Are you a mum? Do you (or did you) ever get lonely for adult company? How do you balance your needs, with those of your kids?