What do you miss about life before kids? That was the question in an online discussion I read recently. Sleep. Free-time. Me-time. Money. Nights out. Lying-in. Tea that’s not gone cold. Peeing alone. Not in any kind of “I wish I never had kids because I miss that hot tea so much” way. Just a list of things that we sometimes miss – if we’re pushed to really think about it.
I wondered then what I don’t miss about my pre-parent life. Surely there must be something that’s better now? Apart from the actual kids themselves – it goes without saying that they are the centre of my universe and the reason I get up in the morning (literally and figuratively).
But if I take the kids out of the equation, are there any elements of life back then that I don’t miss at all?
For me, not wishing time away is one; no longer spending the entire work-week craving the weekend.
Before I had kids, Tuesday morning was the worst morning of the week. Such a “nothing” morning. Monday meant catching up with work friends and easing back in after the weekend. Wednesday was of course already midweek, a cause for celebration in itself, and after that, the weekend was so close you could smell it. But Tuesday mornings were tough-going – the weekend seemed interminably far away and there was nothing very exciting happening. It was just Tuesday. A clock-watching day.
Like any other worker bee, I found five full days in the office hard. Five mornings getting up early was hard. Getting up four hours earlier than I did at the weekend was hard. Transitioning from Sunday switching-off to Monday always-on was hard.
It’s not irrational to spend the entire working week craving the weekend, when they are so diametrically opposed. Like a revolving door with bleak, grey monotony on one side and bright, shiny fun on the other; a constant cycle that sometimes left me dazed.
And that for me is the crux of it. When I didn’t have children, the difference between the work week and the weekend was enormous. A giant chasm that took me by surprise every week, despite the fact that it occurred, well, every week. The shock of Monday morning. The trudge through Tuesday, The countdown towards Friday. The sigh of relief as the weekend hit. The complete letting go. The lack of obligation. No responsibility. No requirement to be anywhere or do anything. Bliss. Until Monday morning.
Then I had kids. And suddenly, weekdays and weekends weren’t so different anymore.
Monday morning: up at 6.30am because the smallest wanders in to sing me a song. Saturday morning: up at 6.30am because the smallest wanders in to ask where his glasses are (they’re on his eyes). No difference. Young kids don’t know about days of the week and don’t care all that much. And parenting doesn’t do weekends – you’re in charge of them on Saturday just as much as every other day. And if you foolishly stay up late on Friday night (yes, I do too, every single week), Saturday can be even harder than any given Monday.
So, now that weekdays and weekends have blended, I don’t crave the weekend with quite the same yearning – I don’t wish time away. This is of course compounded by only having half days free for work – now on Tuesday mornings I’m panicking about how much I have to get done before I’m in charge of the kids again – clock-watching for a different reason.
And believe me, I don’t want to be up at 6.30am every Saturday morning forever, but that’s just it – I won’t be – it will change (it will change right?). Yes it’s hard work right now, but every moment counts when kids are small, and I don’t want time to slip by any more quickly than it already does. So I don’t miss wishing my week-days away. I don’t miss watching the clock. I don’t miss grey, nothing-y Tuesday mornings. There are downs with all the ups, but life is certainly more colourful.