Got kids? It's ok to miss your old life.
My husband and I went to a wedding at the weekend. We drank, we danced, we did the limbo (he still can’t walk) and we passed out in the Uber home. The next morning was horrific. Up at 5am with the youngest, heads pounding with a hangover. He’d already negotiated staying in bed that morning, with me planning on a long nap later in the day. We spend most of our weekends on shift, with one of us going back to bed, nipping out for a run (or just taking a shower dammit!) whilst the other juggles children. Our friends joke that the secret to our relationship is us never seeing each other, but sometimes the joke feels hollow. What if it’s true?
Pre-kids (I’ve started so many paragraphs with that phrase), we’d have stayed in bed ‘til noon before emerging, crusty eyed and a bit bleary, to find some form of bacon based sustenance in a nearby caff. We’d probably have got straight on the Bloody Marys and felt fine by the afternoon. As it was, we made it through the day on crisps and full fat coke, barely acknowledging each other as we passed in the hall, one on their way to bed, and one on their way to their parenting shift.
I miss my old life so much sometimes. Never, never would I wish away my gorgeous, tubby, sticky children. They are the best thing in my world, and I can’t believe I’ve created something so adorable, full of energy, curiosity and joy (with the ability to go from delightful toddler to tantruming banshee in milliseconds, but still). But I think it’s ok to say, out loud, that I had a great life before kids, and I miss it. It’s not just sleep that I miss (although I feel exhaustion in every atom of my being some days), it’s spontaneous nights out. It’s staying up to watch another episode of House of Cards because you can always snooze the alarm in the morning (you can’t press snooze on a 3-year-old. Although you can spend a fortune on black out blinds and gro-clocks).
I miss cinema trips, lunchtime drinking, and booking a mini-break just because BA are having a sale. I miss going out for the night without having to book a babysitter, who may cancel at the last minute. I miss weekend time with my husband, without worrying about nap-times, or high chair availability, or if we’ve packed enough wipes.
But in my pre-baby life, I never knew the joy I could feel watching my kids. They implode with pleasure when they find a snail in the garden. Licking the bowl after baking banana bread is the highlight of their weekend, until the cake itself is cooked, at which point they fall silent, anticipating with almost religious excitement the treat ahead. It’s miraculous when my kids fall silent. (And yet more miraculous when it’s over something I’ve cooked.) I love snuggling them when they are ill, and chasing after them in the park when they are well. It’s a good life.
Don’t get me wrong – life without kids would be full of perks. The money I plough into nursery fees makes a mockery of my salary, but having that money to spend on just the two of us would lead to incredible holidays, and a fine handbag collection. We’d get to sleep through the night, go for dinner, and snog like teenagers on the way home. My childfree mates make me envious with their adventures, their gym habits, and their airmiles. But my kids make me so very happy. Even a shitty day with them (of which there are plenty) is a good day. And I can catch up on sleep when they are teenagers, right?!