Yesterday I had the most wonderful day at The Make & Mend Festival, hosted by the fabulous @makeandmendco at Ormsby Hall. I spent the whole day chatting to wonderful, talented people, all of whom made some really beautiful things. I ate yummy food - the lemon meringue cookie was my absolute favourite - spent faaarr too much money and learnt how to make 3D paper flowers. I got to lie down in the shade, my bare feet in the cool grass. I got to have a full, undisturbed conversation with my good friend Jess. It was amazing.
I left with arms full of bags, a tummy full of yummy food and a heart full of joy. It was the kind of day that fills your happiness cup up for weeks afterwards. And I nearly missed it. I nearly didn’t go. Because I couldn’t take my children. The guilt of leaving them for the entire day. The entire day, all to myself. Particularly with my eldest spending every other weekend with his biological dad, the idea that I’d miss a whole day with him felt huge.
I work part-time, doing pick up and drop off and toddler group and reading and singing and nap time and homework for four out of seven days. I still breastfeed our toddler multiple times a night and a million times a day. We spent the whole of Saturday together. I woke them up especially early to go and see the parade in our village. We went to the local beach, splashed in the sea and I shared my ice cream with them. I pushed them on the swings, helped them up slides. I pretended to be super interested in the rocks and sticks they had found. They often don’t go to bed until I do and so I rarely get time to myself.
And yet, here I was. With the perfect invitation. The support I needed to grasp at it. Talking myself out of taking it. Convincing myself of what? That they couldn’t cope without me? That they’d be worse off? Or that I’d miss out? I feel like parenthood is permanently being stuck between the things we want to do, the things we have to do and the things we don’t want to miss.
Why is it so damn hard to make space for ourselves and not beat ourselves up about it? I really don’t have the answers. And I felt all of those things at several points yesterday. But, in the end, I knew that the guilt wasn’t necessary. That the kids were fine without me. That I’d get plenty of opportunities to be with them again. And that taking time for myself - making space for myself - was equally important.
So I went to the festival. And it was peaceful and relaxing and fun and enjoyable and magic. And I’m ready to be Mother for the rest of the week to come. It’s a win win really.
And the kids? They had the best day with my husband. The other neighbourhood children came round and they all went in the paddling pool. They went to the park. The toddler had a big nap. And they both ran over to me, full of smiles and hugs and questions upon my return. It was beautiful.
So here’s the lesson - feel the guilt, for sure, but do the thing anyways. Take the time for you. Find space for YOU. Even if that’s shoving them in front of the cartoons for 20 minutes whilst you read a book, have a hot cuppa or do whatever fills you up. You don’t have to feel guilty for making space for yourself in your family dynamic.
The house won’t fall to pieces without you. And it is so important to show your children that your needs matter too. Because children learn by watching us and we show them how to ask for what they need by first asking for what we need.