At the beginning of this week I found myself in the unprecedented position of having no less than two days to myself.
That’s right, time to myself: Me Time. No work, no childcare duties, no nothing.
This is not a regular occurrence. I am lucky to get a lot of support from my family, but at the end of the day, I am a single parent who works full time. There isn’t a lot of time left to be navel-gazing about what I’m going to wear (which seemed to be my main focus in life before parenthood struck. Let’s just say I had an extended adolescence, and adult duties and responsibilities have now finally caught up with me).
As anyone who read my previous post may have guessed, this precious Me Time was cut short by my getting ill this week, something that seems to happen quite a bit these days. Previous recent occasions on which I have been ill have included the last day of term (missed a rare and much looked forward to night out to celebrate the end of the school year as a result) and one evening on holiday, when I was taken ill literally just as I had put my lipstick on in anticipation of-yes, you’ve guessed it-an evening out; but anyway, I digress. On this occasion I was determined to enjoy my Me Time to the fullest. I had, quite literally, been looking forward to this all year long. The nursery term went on just that little bit longer than my school’s, and I had paid for that childcare so I was going to use it.
I had grand plans for all the things I was going to do (inevitably, these were mostly blogging related). I was going to be one of those much-envied hipster types who sat in coffee shops tapping away at their laptops over a latte. Those people whom I always assumed must have glamorous jobs in creative industries where it was probably positively encouraged to go to work in your jeans, and leave at lunchtime for a long brainstorming session in Costa; or who were simply taking a sabbatical to write their bestselling novels.
The reality was that they were probably students.
In my day, students didn’t even have laptops. We wrote our essays by hand, which now seems rather quaint.
Anyway, I am digressing again.
The point is, I had Me Time, and I wasn’t afraid to use it.
But I was afraid of NOT using it.
After dropping Piglet at nursery, spending a few hours sat in a cafe enjoying a guilty breakfast (supposed to be saving money) and a frustrating battle with the wi-fi, I set off home. I had ticked off a few things on my to-do list, but they were all computer based, and I was feeling increasingly unwell.
So I went to the local cafe, ordered a latte, and just sat there, watching the world go by. And I felt guilty. Guilty that I wasn’t making the most of the precious Me Time; that I wasn’t going for a run (despite it being the hottest day of the year and me being both unfit and unwell) or reading one of the long list of books I never got round to reading (my excuse this time was that the local library didn’t have any of them, and the last time I looked for a book there which was for me as opposed to Piglet, I ended up speed-reading what was basically an extended rant by Joan Collins moaning about how no one bothers to be glamorous anymore and the whole world is going to the dogs as a result, and lack of lipstick is the harbinger of the steady decline of all human civilisation.
She had a point. Maybe I should have been spending my Me Time making myself look glamorous. How about a spa day? Hell, how about finally joining Tinder and seeing for myself if it really is as awful as everyone says. Why wasn’t I using my Me Time to find myself a boyfriend and get knocked up before my fertility window closed for good, battened down the hatches and drew the shutters?
Why wasn’t I out there on the road with all the traffic going by, learning to drive? Why wasn’t I already driving? Why didn’t I learn to drive fifteen years ago so that I would already be an experienced driver and wouldn’t have to spend my Me Time worrying about what a bad driver I was going to be when I finally got round to learning?
Finally I leaned back, closed my eyes and enjoyed my latte-as much as I could enjoy a hot beverage on the hottest day of the year when feeling decidedly ropey. Me Time was for me, and I wasn’t going to spend it feeling guilty.
That’s what all the other time is for, right?
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