In Helsinki having a mini-break
In Lounge having a mini-babybel
Non-parents can be so cruel, can't they? Specifically, me. Pre-kids, I remember promising myself that when I became a mother, I wouldn't be one of those women who 'let herself go.' (What a bloody awful phrase.) There was no way I would give up my skinny jeans, or stop cutting my hair asymmetrically, or waxing everything.
Back then, though, things were different. I studied History of Art, worked in galleries, wore too much black and smoked fancy cigarettes. Basically I thought I was in a wanky French film. What a dork I was... But that dork got to read books, learn languages, visit confusing exhibitions, pierce things, flirt badly, wear dangly earrings and uncomfortable underwear, and daydream.
Then I became a mum, and my watchwords switched from "cool and interesting" to "sensible and achievable". And why not? I was exhausted and my boobs were dripping with milk. I happily swapped those jeans for M&S chinos. I realised it doesn't matter what length your hair is when you're tying it back anyway. And I decided a bit of hair in other places never hurt anyone. In short, I became the polar opposite of the pre-mum me.
And that's how it's been for the last seven years. It's not that I haven't tried - I have dabbled in rediscovering myself (no, that isn't a euphemism for wanking.) But I find myself spending those odd afternoons off wandering round the shops in a daze, not knowing where to go or what I should be wearing, and end up buying a pair of Clarks shoes. Or I stay at home, determined to put my feet up and relax, just as soon as I've put a wash on, defrosted some mince, and cleared out the spare room.
Don't get me wrong - I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be at home with my kids and I love it, most of the time. But recently I've been missing the part of me that existed before I became the bum-wiping, tantrum-soothing ninja I am today. Maybe it's because I'm finally getting some sleep, or because I'm approaching 40, but I feel like I'm emerging from the mum fog. I want more than pizza crusts for dinner; I want reading material that's more intellectually stimulating than the Toys-R-Us catalogue. I know, I'm so needy.
It's good timing. My youngest child is about to start school, and I will have some time to myself at last. It's a bit scary, to be honest. What will I do? Who the hell am I these days, anyway?
I don't have any more excuses. I am going to get a bit of the pre-mum me back. My plan is to set myself achievable weekly challenges. Nothing too extreme - I won't be spending mornings at the Tate before heading home to practice the cello. But I am going to try to do things that are nothing to do with the kids, and get back into the practice of putting me first. Instead of playdates, I will have grown-up dates with friends. We will talk about politics, fashion, art, and music, and NOT ABOUT FUCKING HOUSE PRICES.
So that's where you'll find me in about a month's time - in Soho, having intelligent conversations over proper coffee, with not a babycino in sight. You will, I promise. Just as soon as I've put a wash on.