Before I get any further I should perhaps mention that whatever I write her is but a small fraction of the stuff that wifey has to endure. She often has the two year old in bed with her, pressed up against her, from the middle of the night onwards and often doesn’t stop with chores or work until well gone 9 o’clock. So while I’m considering the concept of me time, it doesn’t for one minute predicate the lady wife having it ten times worse than me.
Before we had kids I used to have hobbies- both formalised and organised ones like scuba diving and the typical hobbies that lots of blokes have- I liked playing video games, reading books, staying up late to watch films, going to the cinema regularly and just messing about doing nothing in particular. Before the boy came along I had even started to learn golf along with wifey.
What struck me over the weekend was how much this has changed now we own three kids. The first thing to go was the scuba diving as it was i) too expensive and ii) all the trips happened on the weekend which are typically family times. Following closely behind that was golf. We’d only had ten lessons anyway and the time to both play and get better wasn’t there any more. No great loss but I’ve now not picked up a club in 7 years. Next to go, and this was an odd one, was my love of reading. My eyes (and brain) were just to tired after a day at work and interrupted sleep, to let me concentrate properly on reading. Since the boy breath held to the point of passing out, the next to go was time out together with wifey; either the cinema, the pub or a meal together, since we didn’t feel we could ask anyone to babysit and the cost of an actual babysitter along with the activity itself was too much. Even staying up late to watch films went by the by as we’d often be so exhausted we’d just give up and go to sleep.
The kids are now two, five and seven and things have improved a bit (we don’t get woken up every single night by Ned now for example) but there is still precious little down time. I was making a bed at 8pm the other night, and Fifi came in and demanded to know where the ring she’d lost at the Nozstock Music festival was. I struggle to get the kids to bed as it is, nominally aiming for 7pm, with the boy being allowed to read in bed for a bit, I seldom have them settled (and the half a dozen post lights out summons dealt with), before twenty past eight. That leaves realistically an hour and a half or so before I want to consider getting ready for bed myself in case Ned has an exciting night.
I even feel guilty for playing the introduction of Shadow of the Colossus on PS3 the other night. It took half an hour but I gave up in the end because there was simply too much else to do. Part of me misses the times where I’d sneak into bed at quarter to five in the morning after playing Football Manager all night, only to get up two hours later. Most of me doesn’t though because that was a dangerous addiction that could have cost me my sanity. Even so, when I do sit down to engage in a bit of gaming, I often give up quickly as my patience isn’t there, worn as it is to a frazzle by the normal day.
Don’t get me wrong, I still manage to do stuff on my own. Heck, since we’ve had kids I’ve been on all sorts of wonderful blogging trips while wifey has stayed behind and looked after the family (I’ve been to Germany, Italy, Abu Dhabi, as well as away in the UK), and I also go out every Wednesday from 9pm to 10pm and play 5 a side football. I’m hardly hard done by and I’m also off out an additional two times this week, off to a Fuji event at the Shard on Thursday evening and to the MAD blog awards on Friday evening. I’m definitely not hard done by but…
But I suppose I wonder who exactly I am at times. I seem to be mostly either a professional sitting at my desk or a Dad wiping bottoms and cajoling children to do their homework/eat their dinner/get into the bath/stop talking over adults. If I take those two things away, what exactly is left? Sometimes I think it’s just an argumentative contrary bugger, which isn’t the best of things to aspire to or the best example to set for the kids.
I’m sure it’ll get better and this is probably only a phase- either I’ll snap out of it or the kids will get bigger and more easier to manage in ways that will help (and harder to manage in other ways obviously) and there is certainly nothing anyone can really do to help. I tend to go through phases when I’m full of energy and optimism about everything- where I can achieve things easily and everything makes sense- and at other times everything is a slog and I end up second guessing myself on absolutely everything.
I am lucky though because wifey is incredibly supportive, incredibly hard working and really understanding. And, even though she has to deal with 3 small children all day, she still has the patience to deal with me, which truly does mean she has the patience of a saint.