My New Normal

It gets to Friday afternoon at work and everyone else is thrilled that the weekend is approaching. They always laugh when I express just how much I hate the two days at the end of the working week. Whether it’s in an “oh you” way, or with barely concealed horror at how awful a person I am I’m not sure. But, for me, the weekend has become synonymous with two full-on days with a whinging child to get through, when everyone else is busy doing couple things and family things, and I get just as little rest as I usually do. I am envious of my friends lying in until lunch time, deciding to pop out and see a film on a whim five minutes before it starts and just generally doing all the things that I don’t do any more. I had always imagined that weekends as a parent would involve simply getting on with your normal life, only with a small child in tow. Tesco shopping, lunch out, a bit of housework and gardening, visiting friends, a trip to the zoo – I don’t think there was much about my pre-baby weekends as part of a couple that I couldn’t have continued enjoying as part of a couple with a child. (Except maybe the afternoon naps.) But now, as a single parent, my plans more often than not involve counting down the hours until the toddler can go back to nursery on Monday morning. Which is an awful way to look at it, but I am tired and that is the truth. I love my job and I get to sit down all day and drink hot coffee and talk to adults and try on clothes in my lunch break. I can’t think of anything more restful. What exactly is the weekend supposed to be a break from?

Except.

This afternoon I started to get that Friday feeling.For no good reason at all.

This is a cruel trick, I thought. Stop winding me up, brain.

But the feeling didn’t leave me and, as the toddler had a meltdown over the fact that Granny wasn’t waiting for us when we got home and then she turned up two minutes later and she was so over seeing Granny now, I realised I was looking forward to the weekend. For the first time in as long as I can remember. It felt amazing and all of a sudden everything made sense. I’ve spent so long begrudging it and looking backwards that I didn’t even notice that the way I spend my weekends now is my normal. My new normal. More often than not just hanging out with my mum, filling the day with strolling round garden centres and going for coffee, laughing at every gorgeous thing the toddler does and says. I potter half-heartedly doing housework while she demands Granny plays with toys and reads books. We muddle through naps and mealtimes. We have a roast dinner at Mum’s house every Sunday tea time. And I even get a little bit of time to myself while the two of them go to Tesco or feed ducks. What is more restful and rejuvenating than that?

I need to forget the lingering dreams of a husband and the 2.4 children. This is my family. This is our normal. And, actually, I think I rather like it.

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