I have no problem being a mother, it’s not not being a mother which is the hard thing. As soon as you become a parent there is a list of things you are suddenly not allowed to be, its as if you’re not allowed to feel things, to be completely and utterly your own person, your worth as a person does not expand, in many ways, you become 30% you and 70% another person. They are all consuming and fill every part of your mind and space.
I am acutely aware of all the things I’m not doing, the experiences I’m not having, i’ve not been me ever really… Parenthood leaves no room for spontaneity, for flexibility, for suddenly deciding to go on a romantic weekend break and not opening the curtains for 48 hours, for taking evening cookery/creative writing/language courses, just being able to pop to the pub whenever you like without having to pull favours. For not going days without speaking to another adult, being able to work unsociable hours without impacting another persons childhood, walks at midnight aimlessly around a city centre just because you can and want to. Why does being a parent stop you from wanting to do those things, truth be told it doesn’t, why would it? Having a child doesn’t stop you from being you, they change your perspective, enlighten you even! They show you the true meaning of love and sacrifice, but oh truly what a sacrifice it is.
It’s a sacrifice not taken lightly, and it didn’t come without pre-warning, but people tried to tell me, they did, when i first fell pregnant, they tried to tell me what i’d be missing out on, but I was 17 and didn’t really know what I would be missing out on, but now its different, now I do know, well to a greater extent anyway, what I’m truly missing out on, and it’s being me, purely me. In many ways I think I didn’t want to believe what everyone was saying, as if that would somehow make it easier, if I didn’t believe them when they told me what I would be missing out on.
I am not ungrateful or resentful about having Arlo, I want to make that incredibly clear. He is the light of my life but I am more than simply Arlo’s mum, but being a mum doesn’t make the rest of the world disappear. I can see it, I can see my friends spending months travelling to China, Vietnam, India, Japan, Peru, Canada. I see the opportunities and experiences they have, from my bed at 8pm with a packet of Doritos as a sort out another load of washing and clear away the toys and do the washing up. But perhaps the worst part is is that I don’t really see a flicker of empathy, my feelings aren’t questioned because I have Arlo and thats that, I’m not allowed to feel envious of others because that would make me a truly terrible parent, as if by acknowledging my feelings my integrity as a mother is questioned. It however is not, I have faith in myself and in Arlo, and in my ability to parent successfully, but there will always be a part of me that knows how much i’ve missed and that part is worth acknowledging.
I am not 30% of a person and having a child does not stop me from having dreams or ambitions and a certain amount of sadness in my life. I want more than I have now and I still want to do everything I want to do. I want to travel, be spontaneous and inappropriate without being judged for being a bad mother for either doing it or wanting to do it.
I have to believe that it will all happen, that I will get to do all these things when Arlo is grown up, I think I need to because if I didn’t I would maybe have to come to terms with the true limitations of the parenting lifestyle. But on the other hand I couldn’t wait for University, I couldn’t put my dreams on hold then I put a 14 month old into full time nursery possibly against my best interest, so logically I’ve proven that I am not prepared to put Arlo’s needs ahead of my own. But why should I, do we as parents have to put our lives on hold for our children? Is that part of our responsibility? One day, y’know, one day I will have that freedom, as long as I’m rich, don’t have any other children, or a mortgage, and a very very understanding son who gets why his mother needs to have a belated midlife crisis and disappear for a while sometime in his mid twenties.