Parenting: where did all our time go?
I remember being single, convinced I'd be single for ever and that no one would ever fancy me again, and killing a weekend with magazines, good coffee, bad box sets and solitude. I thought it was a wasted two days; I hadn't seen my mates, or gone on a bender, or visited a new city or gallery. I hadn't cooked a new recipe or learned a new language. I'd just hung out, with myself for company.
I never get to do that now. The new recipe I cooked last week was an experiment with the contents of the fridge, and of course they didn't eat it. I now speak the language of toddler, which means when he says, "cut it in squares mummy" that he actually means fingers. I occasionally grab a few minutes on the loo with the door shut until they hunt me down. I even managed a bath last week, during which the stares of the Paw Patrol bath toys freaked me out and the anti-slip mat dug grooves into my back.
There is just no time now. Not time to get a massage or read a book, because lots of busy adults can't fit these in, but there is no time for other necessities. Like talking to my husband in sentences that don't start where or what. Conversations that are about our hopes and dreams rather than who changed the last shitty nappy. There is no time to deal with the life admin of changing internet provider or replying to wedding invites. These important-but-not-urgent tasks get left later and later, until you just hope you aren't getting too ripped off and send the RSVP via text.
And you are so busy concentrating on making sure everyone has clean clothes and that the right book is in the backpack and that you haven't run out of milk for the baby or gin for the parents that suddenly four years have passed and your kids are settled into school. And you get some time back because actually they'll play together nicely on occasion, or get stuck into a puzzle for 20 minutes, or go on a play date that doesn't need supervision.
And you think bloody hell. What do I do now? The washing is done (nobody counts the hand wash only collection, crumpled at the bottom of the basket since 2007). The fridge is stocked. The paperwork is vaguely organised. And you put the kettle on and sit down to talk to your partner. What do we talk about? Our kids of course. Our hopes and dreams.