Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Week in September

It was never going to be me. I was never just going to be just "Emily's Mum"

"Alice's Mum"

"Rosie's Mum"

I was always so busy, studying, working, blogging, the occasional night out with my husband, the odd wine-fuelled gig, a rare short child-free break away to places with castles and plush hotel suites. When the kids were under 5, there was always somewhere for me to be; a meeting, a school play, a uni assignment to hand in, a blogging conference. I was never the stay-at-home-parent.

Too busy.

And yet now, I find myself on the brink of all three of them being in full time school and I can barely breathe thinking about how that makes me feel. What it reduces me to. We went out today, just me and Alice. I took her to Liverpool to spend some of her birthday money. It was calm. Just me and her, walking through the museum, the library, the park. I could breathe and I could think - without the relentless noise that all three of them make when they are all together. And noise is what it is. Everything that is individually important to them becomes an individual weight for me to carry, times three. And I carry it. Their troubles, their issues, their minor playground spats.

Today it was just Alice, and somehow I felt lost.

I looked at the menu in the Italian restaurant and I didn't know what I wanted. I sent seven texts to my husband and posted inane nonsense on Instagram. What did I want? Some sort of credit, a like, a text message, any sort of message? Some reassurance that I was OK?

It feels like I am all at once free and lost at the same time. I am starting a PhD. I'm not lost, I should be happy that the kids starting school means that I can finally breathe. Yet somehow it doesn't feel like that. I feel that I have been lost - somewhere under all of their issues, all of my own insecurities and the endless mind-numbing nonsense of housework and the daily commute - somehow I don't really know who I am anymore. I don't know what I like. I don't know what clothes to wear or what to watch or how to act.

I spent £5 in a charity shop on lots of flowery and multi-coloured dresses. I don't know if they suit me, and I panicked because I don't know what I like anymore, and I don't know what colours I prefer. I know what they like. And that is all. So when I ordered carbonara in the restaurant, I ordered it because that is what Emily always orders and she wasn't even there. It lies heavy on my stomach and I feel sick.

I bought an album because I like it, and I heard it first. I know I genuinely like it. It's the first thing I have liked for ages, and the first album I have bought in about nine years. I play it to the kids and they dance. It's unfamiliar to them, and I found it first. No-one is telling me to play it, or to turn it up or turn it down, it's just mine.

The make-up in my bag is half battered. The kids smeared it on their faces, and it was funny at the time, just one of those things kids do, and yet now I don't own that make-up anymore - they do. I have some comic books Warren bought me last year. I like comics. I used to like comics. They have been on the arm of the chair in their perfect cellophane wrapping for months - a year? I haven't had time to read them, or maybe I'm scared that I just don't like comics anymore. They somehow seen unfamiliar to me. Not mine.

I bought false eyelashes. Normal women wear false eyelashes and have their eyebrows done. I blot the glue on the edge, blow it dry and I stick them on. Clumsily. Then peel them off. Feel silly. They are not what I like. What do I like? I have this beautiful family, and I could tell you every single thing about them. What they like, who they are, how to deal with them, how to talk to them, what makes them tick. I know what their strengths are, their weaknesses, their favourite colours, their temperament. I know everything. And somehow in all that, I lost myself.

I ride the bus to work, headphones in and turn on my album. I turn it up and try and remember me. Either that or wipe the slate clean and start again.

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