Almost every parenting handbook, website and mommy blog worth its salt will tell you that the most important things a new mother needs are a) maternity pads b) a lifetime’s supply of Lanolin cream c) a supportive partner and d) me time.
Now, the first two things are readily available at a pharmacy near you. The third item on the list can easily be replaced by a well-timed martini. But the fourth item on the list is the most elusive of them all.
After the birth of my first son, many well-meaning but clueless people would come up and ask me “How are you doing? Are you lactating well? I hope you’re getting some me time. It’s so important you know?”
Me time is the stuff of legends. Whisper the two words in a newly minted mothers ears and she will begin to envision herself in a fantasy land where George Clooney waits on her in a home fashioned purely from Haagen Daaz ice cream.
The reality is very different. When I was a first time mother, my me time consisted of a two minute shower in the morning and one in the evening. Of course, one could ask what I was doing when my son napped, but as all parenting experts and the Sri Lankan man who owned the corner shop told me, when your child is asleep you too should be sleeping. And sleeping does not constitute me time. For me time to be valid, one must be awake when spending time with oneself.
The elusiveness of me time is directly proportional to the number of children you have. If you have one, it’s doable like Kim Kardashian, if you have two, then it’s like trying to have Madonna’s biceps (very, very hardand really, is it worth the effort?) and well, if you have more than two kids we all know what you’re doing in your me time. People with no children have limitless access to this gold dust and the rest of us hate you. We may seem smug and self-satisfied with our brood of snot nosed kids, but we hate you.
Now that I have two children, I find myself seeking me time in far more subtle ways. I no longer need hot stone therapy or a latte at a quaint cafe. Now I will take whatever I can get. Do you need someone to go and pay the phone bill? I’ll do it? Want to see if there’s any post in the letter box? I’m your man. Are we out of milk? Please, I beg of you, let me go. I will even exercise.
Basically any situation in which I can spend more than a minute to myself without a child wailing, whining or whinging in my ears is considered me time.
So you can imagine how pleased I was the other day when I found myself all alone for two hours.TWO HOURS. I even had the car to myself. No juice box leaking on to my trousers. No child using my hair as a hold to hoist himself up and get a better look out the window. No small plastic dinosaurs being thrust in my nostrils. Just me. I was overwhelmed to say the least.
“It’s finally happening,” I sobbed to my husband on the phone “I’m so happy.”
“But I thought you hated pelvic exams,” he muttered.
But not even a stark reminder as to where I was headed could get me down. Not even the sight of a speculum better suited to fixing a leaking sink than examining the female body could squash the bubble of joy welling up inside me.
When it was all over the doctor came up to me and cooed, “There, all done. Now, why don’t you just lie back and enjoy some me time?”