Last Saturday night my husband and I managed a rare night out together for a wedding reception. We arranged for my sister, her partner and their daughter to come and stay at ours so they could babysit James for us. I say escaping from James because we put him to bed as usual and he knew absolutely nothing about us going out when was asleep.
Pre-James I would’ve probably spent about 2 hours leisurely getting ready to go out, showering, washing my hair, exfoliating, epilating, face mask, make up, nails, hair etc. These days I am rushing around trying to get ready in between cooking his tea, bathing him and putting him to bed. My sister did offer to do James’ bath and put him to bed but I knew if we were still in the house getting ready he would want me, and then I would just have to listen to him moaning. Plus knowing he was asleep when we left the house meant that I could relax knowing he was settled, and that he was unlikely to wake up until the morning. Otherwise I am constantly checking my phone to see if he has gone to sleep.
I had been looking forward to the wedding reception. I love a chance to put on a dress and get dressed up. It really makes a change from wearing clothes that are practical for dealing with a toddler and that are usually smeared with food or snot. Luckily I have accumulated quite a few dresses from our time in Vilnius where we used to get to attend various events (how life has changed!). However, after having James my choices are more limited to the ones I can still fit into. I opted for a long navy lacy dress, that I really loved the first time I wore it, so I was looking forward to being able to wear it again.
I managed to have a shower and do my make up before I made James and his cousin their tea. My sister then did my hair and we gave James his bath, meaning that I would only need to get changed when he was in bed. This worked well and we were soon on our way to our night of freedom.
On arriving at the venue, I realised I hadn’t actually seen this group of friends since January, at the last wedding we attended. We really don’t get out much, especially as a couple. I think at the end of the day when you have spent the day with a demanding toddler or have a stressful job, you sometimes just want to sit and watch TV all evening. Getting out of the house in the evening takes a lot of planning and effort, and although we really enjoy it, it’s not something we can do spontaneously anymore.
I soon realised that I don’t actually have much interesting chat other than talking about James these days, and I am not sure friends without children would find what James had been up to that interesting. I found I was far more comfortable listing to what other people had to say and talking about them rather than myself. As soon as I was asked what I had been up to I didn’t really know what to say. I am a stay at home mum that spends her days hanging out with a 2-year-old. It’s not the most exciting life that we lead. These are mainly people with good careers (even those with children) so I was becoming quite aware that I didn’t really have much going on for myself, or at least that’s how it felt. I found I was telling people that hanging out with James was good fun but hard work. I felt like I was trying to justify being a stay at home mum.
The other issue I had was dancing. I am not a dancer. I don’t drink so I feel very awkward dancing. I would be the worst contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. I am very rigid and have absolutely no rhythm. My husband on the other hand likes to own the dance floor. He seems to have no inhibitions and loves showing off his 90s moves, but when I dance I feel thoroughly embarrassed and frequently wish that the ground would swallow me up. I would love to have his confidence (but without drinking!).
So at the end of the night I came to the conclusion that I have become a boring person, I don’t drink, I don’t like dancing and I don’t have much more to offer than talking about James. Then I thought about it more and decided that I don’t want to drink which is why I don’t, I don’t mind dancing, but in my kitchen when no one is watching and then I probably do have more things to talk about other than James, but as that is my life, that is what I get asked about. If I had been asked what I had been watching on TV, or have I visited any good places recently then I would have been able to come up with quite a few things, but asking about James is the most obvious thing to ask me about.
Despite these things I really did enjoy the wedding reception. It was so nice to actually be able to talk to people without being interrupted or having to run off mid-conversation to stop James from doing something stupid. Interruptions and half-finished stories have become the norm to me. Even when I see my mum friends at toddler groups or play dates it’s not like we are hanging out and having loads of fun; we are parenting. This wedding allowed me to speak to people like I used to before James. With James around I find it difficult to fully engage in a conversation because my brain has to be split between what James is doing and the conversation I am having. It is actually pretty exhausting, and I am sure it often appears like I am not listening to people, I am, but I am also concentrating on what James is doing.
I also loved receiving compliments about my dress and that I looked good. This was really nice to hear because these days I am used to getting compliments about what James is wearing, or James himself. He steals my thunder!
Although it was great to have some time out without James, I do love seeing him again in the morning. Now, despite me not drinking I do really suffer the following day and always joke with my husband that he seems to be able to drink whatever he wants and I am the one who ends up with the hangover. I put it down to the lack of sleep.