The Gym: A Mother’s Haven

I joined the gym.

Don’t worry – it’s only a trial so far; I haven’t gone an all-out commitment… yet. But I have good reason to believe I will. Well, a few good reasons. The first is because I really need to get moving, for health reasons – I have hypersomnia/narcolepsy and the less I move, the more tired I become. But there’s another big reason: the gym is an oasis, a safe haven of mental recuperation.

My gym has kid-friendly classes; I don’t plan on bringing my kids, ever. This is my Me-Time, my chance to think about sweet nothing save the burn in my thighs as I chuck another hack-squat. It’s wholesome on every level: physically, of course, but also emotionally and spiritually, it gives a massive boost just to know that I’m doing something good for myself. It’s even better than cake. (Maybe… OK, it depends on the cake – but it’s pretty damn close)

They say that, as a parent, you need to fill your own cup before you fill those of the little charges. Some take that to mean filling their wine glass, but wine doesn’t agree with me, so this is my outlet. So far it’s been one day, with two classes, but I’m already on the biggest high. My favourite part? Skipping out after dinner to go do Pilates while husband got the kids ready for bed – just like I have to do when he waves goodbye and heads to a music gig (he plays keys) or takes off to watch the footy.

Tomorrow, my muscles will burn, but there’s no way that’ll stop me going back on Friday to do it all again. I’ve found my little Zen space, and while I’m there, I’ll be improving my health, getting stronger, and dealing with this pesky mum-tum that insists on hanging around. There’s just so much win!

Every mum needs her outlet, her own sacred me-time. What does yours look like, or how would you like it to look, if you don’t currently get it?

Sisters – are we doing it for ourselves?

Tonight my dear husband had a gig. He plays piano, and he sings, and he’s pretty great at it, and unfortunately that means he’s (increasingly frequently) called away to play at various shindigs. SO guess who got to stay home with the kids, yet again? Oh, yes, yes, it was me. And don’t I just love it. After all, isn’t this why I became a parent? So I could spend close to three hours single-handedly mustering children into their beds?

Okay, to be fair, I didn’t spend the whole time actively coaxing the little treasures to sleepy-time. I played it smart (I think?) and went about it slow and casual. I put on Alice in Wonderland (the 1951 cartoon, for my interest more than theirs – it pertains to my uni studies), served them a rolling dinner of Whatever The Fuck They Wanted, packed the dishwasher, generally kept things light and entertaining right up until The Moment of Truth. And…. It went reasonably well! The gal was quite compliant (being very incredibly ready for sleep), and the boy… well, he was a monkey, but he managed not to keep the gal awake with his hullabaloo, so I guess that’s a win.

Now I’m up way too late again, chatting to a friend and enjoying a quiet drink to myself while I ponder the growing need to shake things up good and proper. Chatting to some girlfriends today, it was like an echo going round: the experience is oh so similar, across the board. Mums feel shackled to their 24/7 job. We give up so much just to be there for those little mites, and somewhere along the way that includes our own personalities, our interests and passions and hobbies…

I read this bonza article the other day that so elegantly explained the struggle. “A woman’s greatest enemy? A lack of time to herself” hit a raw nerve deep inside. It applied words to complex emotions. Women simply don’t have the time to do things that feel productive or important to us (aside from raising and nurturing children, which is of course important in its own right – but as mentioned above, seems to require a total sacrifice of self). When we do have the time, there is a guilty sense that we should be doing something mundane like catching up on housework. It’s the pervasive, unspoken sense that women don’t deserve time to themselves that is the real issue; after all, men seem to have an abundance of the stuff as they wish, irrespective of children or housework.

For my year 11 debutante ball, all the girls emerged from the wings to the (seemingly outdated) classic, “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” by the Eurythmics. At the time I thought it a bit absurd – at the tender age of sixteen, I had no idea that women were not on equal footing with men. It’s taken over a decade of growing up to realise that this song is indeed still relevant and necessary! Women are still making their slow way out of the kitchen, unshackling themselves from this age-old idea that somehow, we’re not worth the luxury of a bit of space and time to be ourselves, to create and contribute in meaningful ways to society. Of course, there are some who have achieved success here, but as a broad, sweeping generalisation, what I’m realising is that the vast majority still feel trapped.

I don’t know what the answer is. As with most important things, it can’t be simple or immediate. But for me, the first step is to realise there is a struggle to be had, for those willing to undertake it. It has dawned on me that the only thing stopping me from making time for myself – is the idea that I can’t! So maybe my me-time occasionally will look like an hour or two spent at the computer in the late hours of the night, but more and more I want it to look like dedicated daytime hours spent developing my skills as a writer, editor and artist; spending time with my awesome group of girlfriends; going out for the occasional night of fun and relaxation. Oh – and of course, making precious time to meet with the God I serve, because that’s another thing that has fallen by the wayside.

It’s time. I may not have been much of a kitchen-type sister, but I am definitely emerging from the strictures of patriarchy to find myself in this brave new world of female liberation!

The First Rant

The kids are in bed. My bed, to be specific. I had to make a compromise just to get them to agree with the whole “going to sleep” thing, and that was it: curling up like kittens in the exact spot that I should be occupying. This is what happens when The Husband goes to the football. And how do you think I feel? When we first met, eleven years ago now, he had no interest in football whatsoever. He’d outgrown it or something. Sure, his family were all footy-mad, but had risen above all that bollocks! It suited me fine, since my family had no interest in sports, and consequently, neither did I. Then out of nowhere, more than five years into our relationship, he decides to renew his interest, and suddenly I’ve got this footy-obsessed husband who’d leave me home alone with the kids and a raging case of the flu just so he could see the Grand Final. The nerve of that guy!

In case you’re wondering, I’ve come here to rant. The kids are snoozing like blessed little angels, in contrast to the demons that were tearing through the house just a few short hours ago; the bird is resting in his cage, the dog is asleep under the bed, the guinea pigs… I’m not sure what they’re doing, but they ain’t bothering me! Finally, it is ME time. Only trouble is, it’s nearly 11pm and I just can’t be arsed doing anything. Even flicking on the tube seems like too big a commitment, which’ll wake up one or other of the kids anyway. So I’m here to chronicle my thoughts and feelings: primarily, that my life feels as though it has been sucked into a vortex of mundanity, and I have nothing to look forward to until the kids have grown and moved out of home. (That’s what the older gals in my life tell me, anyway.)

Since I’m here, I might as well set down a resolution: I will no longer allow life to simply swirl about me, tugging me along for the ride, a helpless and hopeless passenger. No! I’m jumping in the driver’s seat, starting now! Life will happen on my terms, or not at all. Scratch that last bit, it sounds a little savage. What I mean is, I want to be more proactive in living out my dreams, my personality. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like, but I’ll report back with my progress.