Last night I did something extremely unfamiliar. I put Sophia to bed as usual, read Anna’s bedtime story, ate a quick supper…and then I WENT OUT. All by myself. In jeans that weren’t covered in snot or sick, a silk top and my beloved yellow shoes. I didn’t get far, just to my local pub to meet a couple of friends for a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and a bowl of chips.
M and R are both ‘mummy friends’, in that I met them through us all having daughters the same age. We’ve done play-groups and play-dates and school-gates together, but now they’re both back at work full-time, and I’m right back at the starting blocks with Sophia, so in the space of nine months they’ve gone from being people I saw pretty much every day to formless beings at the other end of a text message. No-one’s fault, just that we’re all busy, and busy in different directions at the moment.
But last night we had the chance to catch up properly. We did talk about the children, of course, but we also discussed work and relationships, household pests and household pets, houses and holidays and the habits of tortoises. Oh, and a bit of gossip too. We sat outside and enjoyed the balmy summer evening, swatted the gnats, and marvelled at the rude barmaid’s repeated attempts to take our bowl of chips away from us before we had finished. There were a few tears and a lot of laughter.
I came home feeling lighter than air, because I had re-discovered what it felt like to be me. Helen. Rather than someone’s mummy, wife, daughter. I love being all those things, of course I do, and they are at the very core of my identity. But there are other bits there too, and I think I need to remember that letting them out occasionally isn’t incompatible with being a good mum, or with putting my girls first.
Of course, Sophia woke up at 1am and 4am, before starting the day at 6.15am, and so I slightly regretted my 11.30pm bedtime, and was very grateful for my decision to switch to soda-heavy spritzers, but a simple thing like meeting two friends for a drink sill feels pretty amazing.