“Are you part of any groups?”
This was a question from a wonderful friend. I wondered if she was referring to the deluge of activities set up for our children’s enjoyment. I then felt a bit panicked, was I supposed to be?
Further into the conversation, I gleaned that she was asking what it was that I did for myself. I walked away thinking…not very much, in fact nothing at all. Of course, I socialise and have a full and loving life with friends and family. But nothing on my own.
“There just doesn’t seem to be the time for it” I replied flatly.
I understood that she wasn’t suggesting that I learnt Japanese or climbed unchartered mountains- but to find a little piece-of-peace every week. It was not about adding another impossible task to our busy lives, or an exercise in self-improvement. It was neither about the pursuit of perfection. Just taking time. It sounded simple and I couldn’t help but be affected by her words. I trusted her too, as though she was nudging me in a helpful direction, without judgment.
Inspired by her go get ’em attitude. I joined a class. That hour, once or twice a week has been incredible. I’m; alone, (without children) talking to new people, connecting with my community and attempting to become a physically stronger version of myself.
The first couple of weeks, my children howled at the window, begging for my return. As each week passed, they began to ask me what I do there and they questioned my ability (like Hulk? he spluttered). I laughed.
I told them that I’m neither fast nor a super hero but they looked up at me as though I almost was.
What followed these questions was a gaggle of conversations and quips about health, friendships and finding hobbies. I think I’d just got a bit lost in the fog of everything to do with motherhood, that I didn’t feel that I could carve the time. I would like to be a mother who has wider interests and for the little ones to see that I value other experiences, outside of the happy home. I would happily skip out of the door to be with my friends, yet why not alone?
As I walked out the door last night, with battered trainers in hand-they didn’t even lift their heads. I shouted “See you!” and some muffled response drifted back, they were ensconced in their own worlds. I was elated.
I’d done it. They were completely at ease with my piece-of-peace.
Last week I was buggy to buggy with another awesome lady. I was about to meet a dear friend for breakfast. Despite my admitting to Mrs Awesome that our house was being consumed/eaten alive by the ironing pile. We mused over the fact that the housework will always be there. That we all should try and carve out time in the day where we jump wholeheartedly off the treadmill and take time for things that fill our hearts. That lead us to feel more like ourselves. And to not feel guilty or obliged to be ‘on top’ of everything. That fair to middling will do, it’ll more that do. It will keep us sane.
The benefits are significant, I feel that they weave into the complicated tapestry of my own parenting. I gain patience and the time alone gives me space to think and reflect. I wish that I had done it sooner, not waited four years to carve a moment of peace.
There is another local group that meets every month and pours (in both sense) over the pages of fascinating fiction. Nestled in a cosy local hostelry. I’m more than tempted. Tempted to join another group. I question why we feel guilty about such endeavours, as though skimming off precious time is somehow a suggestion that we are selfishly abandoning ship. Well I’m determined to hold onto the ship-albeit with a dumbbell in my hand, Lady Chatterly’s Lover and half a Rosie cider.
And yet again. I look around and see inspiration from the brilliant women around me. I learn from them, I am better because of them. The runner, the singer, the book worm, the volunteer, the entrepreneur, the tea drinker and the cake baker. You know who you are.
I wish you all a- little-piece-of-peace.