Today is Saturday. I just got home from the most glorious walk in the sunshine. On my own. In the wintry sunshine. To the ocean. This is something I have always wanted and dreamed of, but have very rarely done. It felt selfish. But it is the least selfish thing I have done today. I mean, before that I made pancakes for 5 children and did a few dishes and stuff. But those things don’t even count, even though they were part of the whole mix of what makes Saturday mornings.
I have an au pair. I know I have written about this before so many times. At first I wondered about getting an au pair. In my own judgement I wondered if people would think I wasn’t a good mother or a capable housewife if I found someone to take lots of those duties off me, some of the time. God forbid anyone would think I was a princess. I knew some people I would have classified as ‘princessy’. To be honest I mostly felt jealous at their ability to prioritise their own needs above other things. To go to exercise classes at inconvenient times (I mean honestly is there ever a convenient time when no-one needs you??). To get their hair and nails done during the week. To go for coffee with friends KID-FREE. To have a cleaner. To get take-away food once a week. To buy cake. Or to find someone to make them a kick-ass cake and bring that. Whatever. Stupid, judgemental ideas about what constitutes being a good mum or wife or woman. I don’t know where they came from, these stupid ideas, but I was surprised I had them. The worst thing about them (apart from meaning sometimes I thought mean things about other people)? They stopped me from doing things that would have made me a better, calmer, nicer, less stressed out mum and wife and friend and woman. So fucking lame.
As time has gone on, I have gotten better at letting go of the things I thought I ‘should’ do. Yes, my children love it when I drop them off and pick them up from school. I don’t love it ALL the time, but I do love it SOME of the time. SO I do it some of the time and I am so glad I am able to do that. I can cook, but I like to do it sometimes. In fact I’m a better cook sometimes. I hate to shop for groceries. I don’t do it, or I get a few things sometimes. But mostly I don’t do it. How do I let things go? I found that there were so many things I was MAGIC at doing that it no longer made sense to be doing everything. With mediocrity. So I do the things I am most magic at most of the time. I do the other things sometimes. And some things I do not do at all.
I don’t think you should need to justify time to yourself. Well not anymore. But there was time when the only way I could justify time to myself was to go to work. Seriously. TO GO TO WORK. Instead of being at home but taking an hour to exercise or write or walk or dream ALONE. I justified plenty of travel without kids (but only for work), coffee or lunch meetings (but only for work), and time away from my children, alone (working). And if it didn’t have a good enough reason (like work) I was riddled with guilt about doing it, found it incredibly hard to ask anyone for help so I could, and I used all the hours of paid childcare so I could work. BUT NEVER so I could have some time to myself. Oh, sometimes I used childcare so I could catch up on cleaning or shopping (groceries only, not like clothes shopping and stuff). As though somehow that didn’t make me a princess.
Well here’s something about princesses. They may be able to prioritise themselves better but it is in a selfish way. In the end, when I couldn’t find a way to do it unselfishly, my inner princess would have some kind of tantrum and I’d get some space or time. Usually by having a bad mood so no one would come near me. Instead of crafting time. And supporting myself and figuring out a way to get what I needed to be OK. Which is totally lame right? So here’s a story…because princesses think that it’s someone else’s job to make them happy, and support them and love them enough. When the truth is, it’s your own job first. And then you are the person who is loved and supported and nurtured because you are loveable, supportive and nurturing (for all the right reasons).
Today I walked to a newish kind of lookout in town. It’s been there for a few years, so it’s not new, but time is such a funny old thing when you get older that to me it’s still newish. When it was first built I really wanted the guy at the time (the guy who was really not my guy) to take me to see it. I had a dream of us riding there together (the two of us) on our bikes. I told him a couple of times I’d love to ride there. Then, the next weekend his kids came and he took them there. A few times. I’m pretty sure he also took her there. I felt so hurt and mad and unloved, but at no point did I take myself there. I didn’t take myself for a look at the lookout, with my coffee and my walking shoes and my headphones full of my favourite tunes. Not one time. I just stayed home, with my two youngest children, hating him. And that’s what princesses do. Because we think the wolf is him. But really? The wolf is in us, chasing the stupid princess round in stupid squealing circles, flailing her arms, saying stupid things like “love me, save me, take me to the lookout”.
Do not be fooled by everything you hear in your head. Don’t be fooled by much of it at all. The times in my life when I have stood and shown the most courage was when I centred myself in the part of me who is deeper, and wider and stronger than either a princess or a wolf. She’s regal. On Saturdays, she takes two hours to be herself, so that for the rest of the weekend she can just be who she needs to be for the people who need her. To make pancakes. To clean the rabbit litter. To pick up and drop off kids all over town. Full of coffee and sunshine, with her nails done.
Do not forget who you are. The one who is deeper and wider and stronger and more.
Love her. Love her alive. On Saturdays and every other day.