For 13 and a half years K and I have been “Mum and Dad” and we are chuffed to bits that we are parents. Not every day, that would be unrealistic, but on the whole we are glad that we we able to have children and become parents. When you first hear your child call you Mummy or Daddy, or whatever variation you use, it makes you feel like you have never felt before. You feel more special than you ever imagined possible and you try and make them say it as often as you can without appearing unhinged.
The novelty does wear off a bit. The constant “mum” “mum” “mum” can be a bit wearing when you are tired or trying to pee, or both. Then they get older and don’t say it as much as before, unless it’s in conjunction with asking for food or money. Ah, not really, they still say it just as much. But when they say it now it doesn’t have the same level of need attached to it. Nor the immediacy that it used to be pronounced with – all parents are familiar with the over-enunciated “muuuuuuuuummmmmmmmyyyyyyyy” that only toddlers and small children can produce when they feel they need you to do something for them RIGHT NOW. No, teenagers and pre-teens are more likely to say it in a FFS what does she want now sort of way and normally accompanied by some eye-rolling. How things change.
With this change comes a new-found sort of freedom. T and A are of an age where they can be left alone in the house, even if only for short periods of time (A more than T – he is happy doing his own thing for a few hours or even half a day or so). For example, at the weekend A was involved in a talent show with Guides. I say the word ‘talent’ fairly loosely, as I’m sure you can imagine. We were only allowed 2 tickets and, as much as I would have loved for T to be able to support his sister in performing the Cup Song he was mightily relieved to be let off the hook without appearing unkind and happily agreed to stay at home while we went to watch. After dropping A off for a rehearsal, we had some time to kill. On our own. Just the two of us.
This was quite hot on the heels of a night out on Tuesday night, so we were almost giddy with the prospect of more time alone, albeit only enough time for a coffee in a busy Costa. It’s quite a different feeling being out on your own in the daytime. Evenings out alone are fairly regular-ish (although we quite like going out with the kids now that they don’t spit food everywhere and don’t need to go to the loo every five minutes) and are very enjoyable, but there’s something about being out alone in the daytime that feels quite un-parent-like. The first few times we did it – popping out to Homebase or somewhere equally thrilling – we didn’t go for long and I spent the whole time clutching my phone in case they rang to say the house was on fire. But as time has gone on, I still have my phone close to hand but it’s possible to be more relaxed and actually enjoy the moment. I can hold K’s hand (if I want to) and no-one gets annoyed or jealous (A) or embarrassed (T). I can talk to K without someone interrupting. I can order a coffee and not huff and puff at the cost of hot chocolates and frappes. I can order a coffee and not have to order any food. But more importantly I can feel like I am just J. Out with K for a coffee. Not Mum and Dad. Just J and K. Actual people. For a little while.
But, as much as these short time-outs are lovely, they will become more and more frequent as time flies by and I know that there will come a day when they won’t be time-outs any more; they will be normal life. I’m glad that we’re going to be Mum and Dad for quite a while longer (we will always be mum and dad but you know what I mean..) and I will not wish the time away. The time-outs just make me even happier when I am back being Mum.