The day I could have run away
It was day away from the children that had been planned for a while. My youngest daughter was 10 months old and I had admitted to having postnatal illness for 6 months, and been taking antidepressants for 4 months. This timeline is important to note as its key to know that Pnd and fighting this illness doesn’t just go away once you seek and get help. It’s a fight and a journey that can last a long time.
I had signed up to a jewellery making workshop and was looking forward to learning a new skill. Plus a day away from the children was a real treat. Armed with a bundle of magazines and chocolate I was giving myself all the treats I’d been missing out on because I had been feeling in such a low mood for months.
I arrived off the train in London Kings Cross station and heard an announcement for a train leaving in 10 minutes to Leeds. As I was walking I was day dreaming and it went something like this.
If I got on that train to Leeds, my family wouldn’t know where I was until I didn’t arrive home that evening. So I would have a head start. I imagined me getting off that train and booking into a hotel. All I wanted to do was sleep, and enjoy that sleep in peace and quiet without being needed. I truly did think about it. But I’m glad to say I walked off the station concourse and went to find the address of my course.
I’m not sure what did actually stop me, perhaps the thought of having to call my husband to tell him where I was. Perhaps the thought of having to explain why I wanted to do it was not enough to warrant the worry and stress it would cause my family. Perhaps I knew I had got the support of my family.
But for others the thought of having some space and time to themselves is craved for so much that my situation could have quite easily happened and indeed does happen to others.
To get that “me time” is so important but mums in particular have this inane and unwarranted guilt that they “don’t deserve it”, maybe they are told or hinted at that they “don’t do anything except look after the baby and see friends at playgroups or play dates” . Maybe they think that because they don’t “work” and are at home looking after their child that they are not worthy of a break. Any of these thought have certainly gone through my head at one time or other and I know others think them too.
I often feel that as my children get older the “me time” opportunities are often easier to organise and even more essential. But the guilt is still there. Plus the logistics of organising it can work out to be akin to a military style operation!
I needed the “me time” opportunities when they were babies because I was wracked with anxiety and my body couldn’t relax in an hour massage, I would need a weekend just to unwind. I didn’t take this opportunity and probably wouldn’t have done even if it was offered to me hence my imagination on that station concourse about taking myself off somewhere to sleep.
“Me time” when they were toddlers was a logistical nightmare. I would feel guilty that I couldn’t cope with them, think that others would be able to. I do however suffer with severe sleep deprivation and once did manage to arrange a night away in a local hotel. My need for sleep totally outweighed my anxiety and it was blissful for that short 12 hours reprieve.
“Me time” now they are older is somewhat easier to organise and arrange yet my guilt and anxiety is back with a vengeance and even though we have been given the opportunity and “weekend away babysitting token”. I don’t know if I’m ready to cash it in yet. Even though my logical head is saying “you need this, why aren’t you packing your weekend away bag right now?!”
Now I don’t see it as running away. I’ve read too many quotes to make sure you get your energy up so that you can reenergise yourself.
Quotes such as “You can’t run a car on an empty tank.” Or “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Are really important to make note of because it’s true. You need to give yourself that time out, that moment to re group your thoughts and reenergise yourself. It doesn’t make you a bad mum to want to do these things it makes you a good mum because you know yourself that you give so much to your children that you need to give time to you. So that you can be that fun mum, so you can be school run mum, working mum, play date mum, PTA mum, mum who meets up with friends, mum who is a happy wife/partner, mum who has not lost herself but knows who she is and knows that everyone needs that time and that break. No guilt allowed.