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Things I miss about my old life

My life is a million times better since my kids came along.

I was never much of a baby person, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. And for the most part, it’s been a wonderful surprise. Babies have such bad PR – I was expecting constant crying, endless nappies and mind-numbing tedium. But what I’ve ended up with is gooey gummy smiles, early-morning snuggles and giggles – often about nothing.

But there’s some stuff I really miss from my pre-motherhood life. If you’re yet to have a baby, this is what I recommend you make the most of.

Husband
You know, that man I loved enough to have two small humans with. I haven’t shared a bed with him for a whole night for more than four months. I realised how much I missed him the other night when he gave me a hug (as we were passing each other in the bathroom door – he coming out to make dinner and I going in to cajole our son out of the bath). I’m so used to hugging small people that the feel of a proper hug from an adult felt totally foreign.

He and I give each other sympathetic looks as we pass in the hallway trying to placate one child or the other. He reaches over to pat me when I’m off to feed the baby for the third time in one night.

Most of the time when I see him naked, it’s when he’s climbing into the bath with our son. We sit across the dinner table from each other – but spend the time trying to contain the mess of a small child eating, or trying to convince him that he should. I’m hoping against hope that my husband remembers I can talk about something not child-related and has the patience to wait it out until we get another chance to do so – maybe in 10 years?

Sleep
This has to be near the top of any parent’s list. I used to think I sometimes had trouble sleeping when I had the occasional 4am wake-up worrying about something to do with work. Or when the neighbours started up their electric garden implements before 9am.

How I hate the former me sometimes.

It’s now been at least three years since I’ve had a proper night’s sleep and I think it’s fantastic if I’m only up wandering around the house twice a night. Even when the kids sleep better than normal, I often wake up to make sure that they are still alive. Or I’m so conditioned to listen for a little cry that a meow from the cat has me bolting out of bed.

I want to sleep in but it’s pretty hard to relax and indulge when you A) have your baby in bed next to you squealing and giving you a hickey because she can’t latch on properly unless you lie in a contorted comma-shape next to her and B) you know your husband is involved in a Moana marathon in the lounge to distract the small person who wants to come in and visit.

Being able to go somewhere when I want to

You have to go and do something, so you go and do it. Drop something off to drycleaner? No problem. Go to the post office? Easy. Except when it’s not. Any time I want to do anything now I have to cajole the older one into getting into the car – bribes sometimes included, and strap in the little one to her capsule. Then when we get there I have to take the bigger one out and ensure that he does not run away while hauling the capsule out of the car – or the other way around except the capsule weighs about as much as a small car.

Then we struggle into the shop and I try to restrain the elder without permanently marking my legs with capsule bruises, do whatever it is I need to do, then pile everyone back into the car and hope no one starts crying on the way home. I have to have white noise or Moana playing on the stereo and I have to make sure I have a pile of nappies, wipes and a change of clothes for both on hand just in case.

Being able to accept evening invitations without hesitation

You invite me out and I say “yes”. Sounds simple, right? I have not done this for almost three years. Any time someone invites me out somewhere now I must first check with the husband. Will he be home? ThenI have to think about what should be happening at this time. Will a baby require feeding? Will a child refuse to sleep if I am not there? What work should I be doing that night that I won’t be able to do during the day because I am otherwise child wrangling? It’s usually easier not to try to do anything.

Speaking of which, being able to do nothing 
Before I had kids I sort of imagined they’d just do their own thing and I’d do mine. They might play with toys on the floor while I relaxed on the couch with a magazine. How wrong I was. If I try to work while my son is playing with his cars, he will often come bolting over and demand I stop so that I can help him build a hill out of his road mat. Or the only way to keep my daughter placid and happy is to walk in ever-decreasing circles in the living room, while pointing out birds in the tree outside and jiggling every third step. So I spend much of my day attending to the needs of one small person or the other, fitting in what I need to do around them. This means, when I get a minute to myself, I don’t get to just sit down and do nothing. There’s always something I should have been doing earlier that is becoming a “must do” now.

Not having to worry about where public toilets are
My son’s pretty much toilet-trained but he doesn’t give me a lot of warning. So when “I need to go to the toilet” rings out, I must take action. This means I have a better working knowledge of where the public conveniences are than I have any right to.

Listening to whatever I like in the car
See aforementioned white noise/Moana. Not only are my listening choices dictated by little people but should I dare to sing along, there is a shout from the back seat: Mum stop singing!

Breasts

It seems mad when there is so much more of them than there ever was before but I miss them just being part of me, not something that can get lumpy, hot, leaky or hard, and constantly the topic of conversation with Plunket nurses. I miss the time when it was I who had the final say in when I got them out in public, not a hungry small person. And I miss all my pretty bras.

Going to the toilet alone
I only realised how far this barrier had broken down for me when I was standing, talking to my husband in the bathroom the other day, and went to sit on the toilet in front of him. I know some couples are more than comfortable with this, but it never used to be our thing. Now, I’m so used to peeing with an audience that I don’t think twice.

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