The thing is, when the marvelous occasion finally came around, I didn't know what to do with myself. As soon as I excitedly waved goodbye to Reuben and kissed the car window (without any sign of remorse), I ran into the house, sat on the sofa... and spent an hour trying to figure out what to do. In theory, 24 hours without Reuben was HEAVEN. In reality, I was faced with the cold hard truth that I don't know what to do without him.
There was only one thing for it. There's only one thing I dream of when Reuben is treading boiled egg into the carpet and playing 'wax on, wax off' with my liquid foundation on the coffee table. I was going to get my hair done. And I was going to sit in that chair and be royally pampered for several hours. And I was going to look like a new woman. A new woman who didn't have a toddler and didn't have dried petit filous matted in her hair. Yet, when I got there, what did I do? I spent 3 hours telling the hairdresser (who I've decided is Belfast's next top model and looked far too stress free to ever have even looked a toddler in the eye) aaaaallll about my 2 year old's birth. I also told her about his favourite food, favourite hobbies, first words, first sentence, favourite holiday, and basically his idea of a perfect first date. And to make matters worse, I clearly had a quarter-life crisis in Reuben's absence and dyed my hair brown. Well... kind of brown... there's still some blonde there. I wasn't drastic enough to leave all my blonde behind - it was a crisis, not a psychotic breakdown. When I came out of the hairdressers, I felt even more lost. In the words of the hairdresser herself I had my 'hair all beautified and nowhere to go'. (It wasn't actually beautifed. It was terrible. But I didn't have the heart to tell her that. In fact I had brown hair dye on my cheek that later turned my face-hair brown. Sure why would I do anything the conventional way?)
I spent the afternoon with my friend Anna who is forever saving me. I pitifully dragged her to 3 coffee shops just so I had something to do and someone to be with. Then I admitted it. I was lost without Reubs. I had nowhere to go and nowhere to be, and was needed by no one. I didn't know what this feeling was. I didn't know what this freedom was. I didn't know what to do when I wasn't being a mum. Even when I'm at uni, I constantly think 'I wonder if Reuben's okay. I wonder what he's doing. I wonder if he misses me'. But on this day I knew he was absolutely fine with my parents and he was having the time of his life. I constantly preach at people that motherhood does not define me. I get frustrated when other people are complimented on their humour, their friendliness, their talents, and I'm always told 'you're a good mum'. Every time, without fail, I scream 'I AM MORE THAN A MUM. THERE IS MORE TO ME THAN THE FACT I GAVE BIRTH. I AM STILL A PERSON. GOD MADE ME WITH OTHER CHARACTERISTICS'. In my defense I think every mama has been there. (They're just better at dealing with it than me). There comes a point when you realise you are no longer known as 'Reb'. You are now known as 'Reuben's mum'. But on this particular day I felt like I had lost my right arm. Maybe it was time to practice what I always preach. Motherhood does not define me.
|2nd Coffee shop. Anna took this photo whilst supervising my|
weird identity meltdown.
Before going home to bed, I stopped with another slightly injured friend to deliver some 'sorry you had a cycling accident' sweets. Much to my disappointment he was doing absolutely fine and my desire to mother him was unfulfilled. Once I went home I was so restless I nearly cleaned. NEARLY. That's when I realised it was time for sleep. And I was so right - I slept from 12-7 without moving. I honestly think I died for 7 hours. It was exactly what I needed. I spent the morning blissfully reading and drinking coffee in bed without being hit across the face with a baby bottle and told to get up and turn on 101 Dalmatians. I went home more than ready to see Reubs but semi-regretted that I didn't embrace my 24 hours off in all its glory. Next time I'm going to write myself a reminder letter of all the things 'Reb' likes to do. Not things that 'Reb the mum' likes to do. And if that fails, I will have a whole stack of kick-up-the-butt-brownies ready just incase.