I feel bad about it, I feel like I should miss them, but no matter how much I try to conjure up fond images of them doing cute things*, I just don’t.
Does this make me a bad mummy?
I don’t think so.
It’s not like I’ve always just gone off, happily doing my own thing, without giving them a second thought. In fact, for about the first two years of Belle’s life I was very rarely even in a different room from her. She was what you would call a ‘highly sensitive’ baby. I didn’t balk (too much) at this, just accepted that she’d let go (literally) when she was ready, and in the meantime I learnt to do a lot of things with just one hand.
Despite becoming a mum at such a young age, I’ve managed to hold on to a very distinct identity for myself, that isn’t just about being a mother. I am not defined by my children, and so when they’re not there, I don’t feel bereft, or like a piece of me is missing. I don’t throw myself on the bed and wail, questioning the meaning of my life without them. I know that whatever they’re doing, they’re probably enjoying themselves/having money spent on them/getting to stay up later than they would at home, so why would I worry?
Sometimes I voice these feelings out loud though, and it doesn’t go down very well.
Last year, I was away in Germany for work for five days. I don’t think I called home the whole time I was gone. One evening, out for dinner with a group of people, while one woman sobbed quietly into her soup, I declared that I didn’t miss my babies At All. “But you can’t mean that?” upset woman cried, a look of horror on her face. Everyone else turned to me, slightly aghast. “It’s just part of your whole slummy mummy act right?”
“Um…” what to say? I didn’t want to become known as the heart-of-stone woman…
“Oh no!” I backtracked, “I miss them of course! I just don’t miss them. You know what I mean.” And I hastily gulped back half a glass of wine.
I lied though. I didn’t miss them at all. Don’t tell anyone.
So what do you think – do I have a heart of stone, or after 17 years of parenting is it alright to enjoy a bit of time to yourself sometimes?
*At this point, I paused and tried to conjure up such an image, so I could give an example, but to be honest I couldn’t even get that far.