On Mini-breaks, Mini-bars and no Mini-me in sight.

I just got back from a truly lovely night away with C for our 4 year anniversary. We left after putting R down to sleep, had dinner in a fancy restaurant, stayed at a nearby hotel, and came home mid morning. It was as decadent and thrilling a treat as 2 weeks in a 5* resort ever sounded pre-baby. (not that I ever stayed in a 5* resort pre baby. Roll on retirement.)

A fancy meal and a quiet hotel are special luxuries for most, even if there are no kids in the picture. And I’m sure I used to enjoy hotels for more than just the absence of babies. But the best parts of our 15 hour nano-break can all be linked back to the lack of tiny feet pattering on the lush carpet which I could eat complimentary biscuits over with no worry about the needless hoovering.

  • The packing.
    We took one small bag. With one change of clothes. Not 3 vests, 3 t-shirts, a jacket in case its cold, a spare pair of trousers, 2 pairs of socks in case he jumps in a muddy puddle because he thinks he is peppa pig, a hat and sunscreen as well as a coat and the raincover (thanks UK August) and the buggy and assorted toys and games and books and music CDs and playdoh, and snacks and back-up snacks.
    About 3 minutes before we left the house, I said to C, Oh-I haven’t packed. Hold on. I reached into my closet, made my choice, placed it on top of his spare shirt, and we left the house.
  • The thinking ahead.
    Travelling with a baby is no small feat, and it probably leaves most people more tired than if they had just stayed at home. You basically have to go through the entire holiday in advance hour by hour and think of any event which might occur so you can have a plan in place for it. Even then you find you haven’t thought of everything. Silly me, I haven’t brought plug cover protectors and for some unknown reason the plug sockets have inviting flashing lights on them. Thanks to whoever added that extra bonus feature, sincerely, parents everywhere.
  • The sheer grown-up-ness of it all.
    A true treat to walk into a hotel room and scan the room for the mini-bar thinking Ooo, I wonder what deliciousness lies within, as opposed to I hope there’s room for R’s milk in that tiny fridge… How lovely to ask for a deluxe room so that you can enjoy the space rather than squeeze in a travel cot. And how enjoyable it is to listen to music without headphones, or watch a movie outside of the bathroom because the lights and noise aren’t going to wake anyone up, even at the advanced hour of 8.45pm.
  • The morning.
    Once upon a time, I used to sleep. I slept recreationally as well as for health purposes. I slept sometimes three times a day, I could have slept for England if someone had the genius to make it a sporting event. It is a true testament to how much motherhood has changed me that I am about to brag about this. Today I woke up at 8.45am. And lay in bed until about 9.15. And then got up to the sound of… nothing. I got dressed at my leisure ( and all my clothes matched), had a slow and peaceful meal where no one threw Cheerios at my head, read a few chapters of my book, had a languid conversation with my husband that made total sense and was all in one sitting. I then looked at my watch to find that it was still Monday. Not only that, but it was about 10.30. Just to be clear, that amount of productivity and relaxation normally would take 3 days.
  • The simple not-being-at-home of it all. 
    Walking across a room without cursing at a piece of Lego crippling your feet, or stepping in an unexplained pool of suspiciously sticky liquid. Having time to yourself where you can move from one spot without fear of waking a child, or go to the bathroom without the grinning face of a toddler thinking it’s some kind of game for his own amusement. Eating a piece of chocolate without needing to share, making a cup of tea without checking where the kid is so you don’t spill boiling water on them (frowned upon apparently). Conversation!
    The list of delicious examples of things to escape is probably endless.

Which brought us to wonder (condescendingly) over our breakfast this morning…. Although it is clearly obvious why we opted to leave him at home for our nanobreak, why did we ever bother going to hotels before we had him? Aren’t all homes practically hotels pre-children? 😉

Will you be my friend?

Lately, I’ve noticed something terrifying. I am officially a grown up. It’s not just the whole Emerging Adulthood thing. Although certainly having a husband and a son, a career, many many bills, and a place of our own helps to hammer the message home.

It’s other more worrying aspects of adulthood. I get a little nervous when I see a group of rowdy youths, and I refer to them as ‘youths’ in my head. I get really annoyed if I accidently end up out too late in the afternoon and have to share the bus with school kids of any number. I cant even picture myself going into Miss Selfridge or Top Shop, and have started to think of Dorothy Perkins as a entirely acceptable place to browse. I have less and less interest in sweets, which leads to me being even more disinterested in things like Simchat Torah and getting the bill in restaurants. And last year, I’ll even admit to having a subscription to Prima. (Gasp!)

Yep, I’m boring. I’m aware that I’m still young, dont get me wrong. I’m loving being a young mum, renting our flat, being at the beginning of my career and having a lot of fun with it all, but there are no two ways about it, the teenage years are far behind me, in age as well as mindset.

As great as this is, I have trouble working out how to relate to people in a ‘grown up’ way. Not actual grown ups, I have no problem talking to friends parents, or older colleagues in my office, or relatives and the like. It’s the people the same age as me that I’m struggling with. You know, my friends, or potential friends.

The longstanding ones are not an issue. We have been friends for so long that we have an easy relationship, strong bonds, great banter and deep chats. But new people… I’m lost. No longer can we dive straight into what my 16 year old self called “proper chats” where you can discuss everything and everyone with no holding back and very little self consciousness. We’re grown up, and as sad as it may be to lose that passion, we dont do that anymore. But similarly, there is no space in our lives for superficial chatter and fake smiles that barely break the surface of a real conversation. Who has time for that when we have shopping and carpools and meetings and cooking?

So we’re looking for something in the middle. That easy ‘come for a meal this weekend’, that friendly ‘let’s have a playdate this week’, the wave from across shul that means we have someone to sit with,  or the real conversation that makes the weekly shop and the grouchy toddler that much more enjoyable to deal with.

See? I know what the goal is. But I dont really know how to find it. Without the intimate discussions of our teenage years, is it just a matter of waiting until the on the surface words become something more real all on their own? If I keep inviting you over, will it eventually become effortless, not just for us to be couples friends, but actual friends as well?

Or perhaps those days are just behind us. And the relationships I have with my best friends and my husband are not only sufficient, but more than most people have, in their history and their simplicity, and at the same time, incredible complexity. And if I have that, and am oh so grateful for that, then the on the surface chatter, and the basic conversation which seems to fill 90% of grown up interaction, should really be enough for me. Maybe it is true, that we make our real friends in high school, and in a world where we have hundreds of online ‘friends’ and yet a mere few to open up to, the rest of our lives we just need people to spend time with.

I’d like to know the answer to this one. Maybe I’m looking for something that doesnt exist, or just going about it the wrong way.. But how does one make ‘Grown up friends’?

Emerging Adulthood

Apparently there are now 5 key milestones identified by Sociologists which identify becoming an adult. Although there is a new trend of not reaching all (or in some cases any) of them by the age of 30 or even 40, I can say I’ve reached all of them. (round of applause?) Moved out of my childhood home? Financially Independent? Married? All at once by the age of 21. Finished my education? Sure. A parent.. Yes indeedy so I keep pinching myself to remind me.

So according to ‘Society’ I am an adult. Apparently I should be overjoyed. That’s it! My life is now mapped out ahead of me, I’ve made what’s said to be all my important decisions, and all before my mid twenties.. Well done me.

But have I? I mean, I got married. I made that decision, dont get me wrong, best decision ever. And with that came moving out, becoming financially independent, ie: our own wedding, our own rent, our own furniture, our own plates and towels, none of the monetary help that I slightly enviously observe many of my friends having. (Although we did find people being extraordinarily generous in terms of gifts)

I’m all for the joining of two people, financially as well as emotionally, and I’m definitely in the “whats mine is yours what’s yours is mine” camp, but I cant help but notice that I would never have done step C (finish my education) or step E (have a baby) without the incredible support of my husband. Or i may have done, but at the expense of step A and B (financial independence and moving out.)

Which leads me to think of my own parents. My mum for the most part raised my brothers alone, and in many ways me also. I can’t always say I’ve appreciated this, but by not far off the same age as I am now, she was alone, with two kids and a mortgage, having reached all those stages and then lost the one that holds my whole world together-the marriage. That above anything else, would (God forbid) send me running back home, unable to work, unable to be the mother I want to be, unable to get out of bed most likely.

My paternal grandmother was divorced with a child by the age of 19. One of 13 herself, I wonder how she managed to bring him up all alone, no hint of the influence of a father in my own dad’s life until he turned 62. (a story for another time perhaps.)

So yes, I’m past the stage of ’emerging adulthood,’ and I think I can take some credit for that. But it’s only through the grace of Hashem Himself, and the courage and strength of the truly adult women in my family who went through inimitable sacrifice to help me get to where I am today.