On return from a wonderful weekend at a spa where I spent time reconnecting with my husband for his birthday, I started to feel a little down. Okay I'm lying to protect my image, I actually started to feel a lot down.
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We had left my daughter at her granny and grandad's for the weekend and now, less than 24 hours later of having picked her up and returned home, amidst the mundanity of our Monday mornings, our one night reminder of what life used to be like, felt like a life time ago already, much like the early days of our relationship where all we had to focus on was each other.
I started to feel the kind of depression that brews when you get back from travelling after a year of no responsibility, pulling all nighters and wearing the same pair of flip flops for weeks on end - only this was simply 24 hours of spa-provided dressing gown and flip flops and with no responsibility, (aside from ensuring we didn't sleep through the pre-paid breakfast) in the complete opposite of an all-nighter, we fearlessly fell asleep at 9pm.
During our stay, we spent time walking hand in hand, just our hands, no clammy biscuit sweat in between, and meandered wherever we wanted, at whatever speed we wanted, without having to consider a) will we need a pushchair? b) is it pushchair friendly even? (for ours isn't one of your multi-terrain-which-also-mows-your-lawn types) and c) how long have we got before our child wants to get out of the pushchair, is satisfied on daddy's shoulders for a short while before wanting to walk herself for all of no seconds before changing her mind and starting the repetitively exhaustive cycle again until she does a poo and we decide to give up and go home.
We went to the in-spa cafe and lounged on sofas in said dressing gowns without the need for a high chair nor a dustpan and brush at the end of it, since my husband is relatively capable of ordering off a menu without it ending up all over the floor. Unless it's spaghetti bolognaise or chicken fajitas.
My husband enjoyed a treatment for his birthday present which would have been somewhat de-valued if I had also gaily skipped off for one too, so instead I indulged by lying on a waterbed in the 'Relaxation Room', awake I hasten to add, for two hours. For a whole wakeful 120 minutes, I just lay there, listening to rainwater, noting the gaping hole present in my body. The gaping hole you are probably assuming was my daughter and how much I was missing her, but no, the gaping hole was actually where the dread normally sits when I usually lie on a bed for a lot less than 120 minutes, 120 seconds even, and just as I fall asleep, just as I begin to drift, I know she will call for me, needing me, wrenching me out of my doze with a smash in the face of nausea. Dread you say slightly aghast? Yes dread, sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture in World War 2, therefore baby's that make noise in the very second before I fall into a deep slumber can all be called torturous, or Hitler.
So here I lay, on a waterbed, fearlessly awake without my WW2 opponent threatening to attack, for two hours, enjoying not being needed...and that maybe I should get me one of these at home, before pondering if a lilo would work to the same effect.
I feel at this point I should stress, particularly to those who are yet to bear a child, I love my daughter beyond imaginable measures; I must do because anyone else calling me repeatedly at 2am would simply get told to fornicate offward.
Back at the spa, we enjoyed a one-on-one dinner and actually looked into each others eyes from across the table, to the point of blushing as it has been 18 months since we knew we were going to bed without the fear of being interrupted by our baby. This intimacy, this connection, we don't get much time for these days. I miss him, I miss us to the point of pain.
The following morning I awoke as I predicted I might at 6:30am. Instead of being awoken by my daughter's cat-calling that is one of the less exhaustive, more amusing sides to being a parent, instead, the over-pronunciation of Masterchef's voiceover lady wafted into my consciousness as next door had their TV on level deaf. Who knew Masterchef repeats were on so early on a Saturday morning? Having not had a chance to catch up thanks to The Eyles' TV sponsoring In the Night Garden, there seemed no better uninterruptible time to tune in. I experienced yet another reminder of my life pre-daughter and enjoyed a morning coffee in bed (albeit three hours earlier than before motherhood) and watched what I wanted to watch, enjoyed the morning chorus that didn't involve the descant of a one year old attempting to say Dada, and allowed time to pass without having to remotely consider the whereabouts or needs of my child.
Following our breakfast, we enjoyed a very long read of the paper in a cosy hanging basket for two, still in our dressing gowns. I actually read a news story for longer than just the headline, albeit about a couple who bought four Audis with their lottery win and how being so rich has destroyed them whinge whinge, but it didn't leave me with a voice in my head that attempts to rhyme or turn everything into a song. The morning was then concluded with a nap as my husband stroked my hair while he finished reading the parts of the paper I don't understand, no not the sport, the politics - actually, the sport and the politics!
All in all, it was bliss. 24 hours of utter bliss that now leaves me feeling like the worst mother to have ever given birth because of the residing guilt.
No, I'm not that selfless that I feel guilty because I enjoyed one night away, I deserved that, and I know I damn well deserved it as i put my heart and soul into being a good mum and ensuring my daughter has the love, attention and affection she needs every single day, and night too let's not forget.
I give my daughter my all, and she is a fun-loving, confident, happy little girl because of it. When I fell pregnant with her and with goo-ey naive eyes visited the doctor with my exciting news, she told me the raw truth (that back then fell on deaf ears) "Congratulations. Your child will strip you of everything and leave you with nothing".
The experienced mother was most definitely not wrong.
So with full support from a medical professional, I know I deserved a day away. But, on coming home, it hasn't just stopped as a night away.
Like any addict after abusing when they knew they shouldn't, I now feel guilty because I want that morning coffee, that dressing gown, that waterbed, that re-connection with my husband, that day, that bliss again, today, everyday, and there's a part of me within that I am now having to fight to book it every weekend in the foreseeable future! But alas, sadly these places don't allow children let alone have crèches, most likely to maintain the sanctuary and sanity for all frequenting parents, and thus, life with a one year old, let alone more siblings, most definitely doesn't allow for this bliss on a regular basis; part time jobs as an honourable parent don't exist.
Having been home for a few days now and on leaving my baby girl with her dad as I went to the local supermarket, perturbed by my inner conflict, driving home I said to myself, 'So if you are saying you want all that, again, everyday, are you essentially saying you want life to return to how it was? Are you saying you wished you didn't have a baby?' As I asked myself this question, I started to cry. I'm not talking a few crocodile tears, I'm talking sobbing uncontrollably. And even though I knew the actual answer despite what I was controversially supposing, the guilt from even considering such a circumstance made the tears flow ever more; to the point that even once i had returned home and put my keys in the door, I couldn't keep it together and instead simply acted as normal while continuing to cry.
On opening the door I was greeted by my little daughter toddling towards me in just her nappy and on seeing me jumps up and down and makes me see in the actual flesh, literally, how lucky I am. But of course, this didn't stop the tsunami but overtook it, as I now felt the most ungrateful mother that ever lived for feeling like this, even if only for a fleeting moment, and all those trying for a baby would curse me for ever daring to speak what I feel. My husband came down the stairs and on seeing me comes to hold me instantly. Still unable to stop the tears, a mixture of guilt, love and largely mourning for what once was (something I thought I had dealt with during my post natal depression days!) my one year old attempts to dance with my leg taking one of the hands hanging limp by my side. And so with water streaming down my face, I am now dancing to the theme tune of In the Night Garden, hand in hand with my daughter, both crying and laughing at the joy this brings not only my child, but to me too to see her so (thankfully) ignorantly happy.
I don't know what the resolve is, aside from the dress code in life to be for us all to wear dressing gowns on a daily basis, but let it be known I would never ever EVER want to be without my daughter, I reiterate for the cynical judgmental readers out there, I would never ever EVER want to be without my daughter. But as and when we need a weekend away, maybe i will always have to acknowledge a painful loss to how easy things once were? And by God, they were easy. But make no mistake, that doesn't mean I don't feel I have gained, but as Superman once said, 'No pain, no gain'.
And actually the doctor wasn't right, while my daughter has stripped me of everything, she has given me the most valuable lesson one can learn in life; love, endless unconditional love. And now a longing for a waterbed too.
And one day, when these are all distant memories amidst the mire, I'm going to be waiting for Hitler to call, wishing Hitler still needed me at 2am...