On a recent girly night out, we did ‘words’ before dinner. This involves going around the table and selecting a word that describes your day, feeling or current experience. I love words, not least of all because Rob picked the word marriage during a romantic dinner in Paris and proceeded to produce a shiny, sparkly ring.
That evening, I chose the words freedom and friendship (you can cheat and have more than one). Freedom because it was the first time I’d been out all afternoon and evening, leaving Rob and the girl to fend for themselves through dinner and bedtime, which they managed beautifully. Another friend chose expansion, which I also loved because mum or not, you continually expand to be all sorts of things.
I was still pondering those words walking back over the Embankment footbridge on my way home. I love strolling over the Thames at night, seeing all the lit up buildings and their reflections in the dark water. It occurred to me that now I have Lilly, I have a whole new appreciation and mindfulness for the time I get to spend alone.
Even that simple walk turns from ordinary to extraordinary when it ceases to be something you do all of the time. A solo cinema trip; a prowl in the fields with the dog all take on greater significance when they are no longer everyday events. And I am really paying attention to what’s going on around me, whether it’s St. Paul’s at night, or the sounds of the wind in an empty field with Jack.
I find I am now placing much greater value on the time I get to spend with myself, as opposed to treating it as a commodity. Coming back refreshed, even after a short time, allows me to consciously appreciate time with Lilly more so than if I didn’t have a break to focus on me.
I also guess part of the freedom is not so much freedom from being with Lilly as freedom from some of the limitations that can come with traveling with a little one. A prowl in the woods is not easily accomplished with wheels. It’s nice to not depend on lifts as you do if the girl’s in the buggy, or to use stairs without clinging to hand railings when she’s in her sling.
The side effect of prancing around in muddy fields is of course that the canine gets rotten filthy from all the mess he rolled himself around in. That gets me in trouble, as the master is not fond of a stinking dog.
Freedom or not – if it’s not one kid, it’s the other!