You know what, I didn’t feel it coming. At all. Usually if I am feeling a bit down or fed up I can see it coming, but I suppose this wasn’t really the normal feeling down or fed up. It was something completely different and something like I said, that was unexpected to say the least. I didn’t even know how I was feeling until out of nowhere a sentence tumbled out of my mouth at the same time a sudden tear dropped down my cheek. I was driving and my mum was sat next to me on her phone and Alyssa was in the back of the car talking away to herself. I had been quiet for a few minutes whilst my mum was texting and I had just been mindlessly thinking of nothing in particular as I drove a familiar route to somewhere I cannot even remember. We pulled up to some traffic lights and my mum put down her phone and without thinking I simply said “Mum, I feel a bit fed up!” the tear rolled down my cheek and I let out a big sigh of relief…
Over the past two and a half years my life has changed so dramatically it’s hard to remember how I used to be. Right up to the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was going out at the weekends, drinking, smoking, clubbing, dating with no responsibility other than to myself and of course my job (which to be hugely honest I was not really that bothered about because I had completely fallen out of love with the teaching profession.) Then, I found out I was pregnant and it was like I suddenly had a personality transplant. I no longer went out out, I barely drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t go clubbing and I don’t date. I also now have the huge responsibility of keeping another human being alive, healthy and happy.
Being a mother is, I believe, a role I was born to play and I love it so very very much. It changed my life completely and definitely for the better. I waited thirty long years to become a mother and it was entirely worth the wait. So what was the problem? Why was I sat at some traffic lights, waiting for the lights to go green, with sudden and unexpected tears rolling down my cheeks?! My mum of course was quite shocked at this sudden emotion that she had no prior warning was on it’s way and of course asked me why. When she asked, I wasn’t even sure I knew the answer but it burst from my lips like it had a life of it’s own; “…because I don’t feel like myself anymore.” For the past two and a half years, I hadn’t been Katie anymore. I had been “the pregnant girl,” “the mother,” “the blogger,” but I had not had a chance to be me.
Did I want to go back to being that partying me whose Sunday involved trying to survive a hangover before working again on Monday? Hell NO! I don’t miss going out out at all and if I am honest, what I miss is actually just the opportunity to just be a woman for 5 minutes and not just mum. In the entire time my daughter has been alive, I have only been parted from her three times, for a total number of hours that don’t even amount to a whole day. I felt horrible, sat there crying to my mother about not getting a chance to be me and kept repeating how much I loved my little girl and how I would never be without her and she told me to be quiet and to listen. For every single day of her life I had been mummy doing anything and everything my little one needed and not only that being a single mum meaning that 99% of everyday responsibility was mine and that it was perfectly normal that I’d need time to myself. Time to be myself. Time to recuperate some energy. Time to be me. I had never really thought about needing “me time” before – it was generally just the luxury of an hour long hot bath that would tide me over but actually, although I don’t need a lot, a little bit more was required.
We were due to go shopping that Friday and I hadn’t done this without Alyssa, EVER! I had even done all my Christmas shopping with her which any parent will know can get stressful as bless their hearts they do get bored and I don’t blame them. My mum got on the phone and called my sister and brother-in-law who instantly agreed that they would have my bubba for the day on Friday and I could have a girly day with my mum – I was also told I was NOT allowed to buy her anything and had to buy myself some new bits which again I had not done since pre-pregnancy. She waved me off on Friday and enjoyed a day of being spoilt rotten by her aunt and uncle who’s undivided attention she had for the entire day and my mum said she had not seen me so relaxed in a long time. It was simply that I had it in my head that she was my responsibility and I didn’t want to burden or have to rely on others too much and take advantage – whereas in fact I had not even asked let alone burdened anyone, not that they would see it as a burden at all.
This pushed me into thinking what I could do on a regular basis to make myself just have a little break once in a while. Well, I really am trying to look after myself and lose weight at the moment (I have lost 10lbs already!!) so my mum suggested taking some fitness classes at our local gym. They wouldn’t last too long, it would be something I would enjoy and I would get to meet new people. This had been another reason I hadn’t had much chance to be me over the last few years – sad to say that locally I don’t really have any friends. I shared with you all last year about the betrayal of my once best friend (Bullying and Betrayal: What the Hell Happened to Friendship) and it kind of meant I had separated myself from everyone in our old friendship circle and now my closest friend was almost an hour away with a busy life of her own – thank god for my wonderful online friends is all I can say! So I went onto the timetable for the local gym and suddenly found myself signed up to an hour long pilates class and a forty five minute step class once a week. I also signed Alyssa and I up for a new toddler group which feeds into a potential pre-school she may be attending in the future.
I thought that feeling fed-up because I didn’t feel like myself was something I shouldn’t be feeling. I felt like it made me appear ungrateful for the wonderful gift that is my amazing daughter. But to be honest – that’s bollocks! We cannot spend all day every day eating, sleeping, living, breathing being nothing but Mum or Dad because otherwise we’ll go nuts! Yes, when we become parents, our lives are completely changed in every way and will never be the same again, but it is important to maintain some aspects of ourselves too. We cannot stop being who we are but we can adapt it so that all the new parts slot in nicely with parts of the old you to create a whole new and enjoyable life. I needed to cry. I needed to admit that I had lost me… completely. I needed to be told that it was okay. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to my fitness classes – in total it it just over 2 hours to myself, doing something for myself a week but it’s enough and its good for Alyssa too. We are also adoring our new toddler group – she has the space to run and some lovely children to play with and I get new adult conversation and even managed a hot cuppa too.
It’s okay to need “you time.” It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to still be you. Take some time, it doesn’t have to be much and just have a breather from the life you love. It will leave you refreshed and ready to enjoy it even more.