24 Hours Without Reuben


I spent all of last week counting down the days to Friday. Counting down the days to my precious day off. And not just a dayoff because I had somewhere important to be. It was a day off purely for the sake of it (possibly for the sake of my sanity but let's not go there). My mum had planned to take Reubs home with her to Castledawson and I was going to have 24 hours alone. I wasn't going to do any work. I wasn't going to clean. And I wasn't going to worry about keeping a little human alive. I make it well known that I haven't slept properly since 17th December 2013. So when nights like these come around, I sleep. And I sleep hard.

The thing is, when the marvelous occasion finally came around, I didn't know what to do with myself. As soon as I excitedly waved goodbye to Reuben and kissed the car window (without any sign of remorse), I ran into the house, sat on the sofa... and spent an hour trying to figure out what to do. In theory, 24 hours without Reuben was HEAVEN. In reality, I was faced with the cold hard truth that I don't know what to do without him.

There was only one thing for it. There's only one thing I dream of when Reuben is treading boiled egg into the carpet and playing 'wax on, wax off' with my liquid foundation on the coffee table. I was going to get my hair done. And I was going to sit in that chair and be royally pampered for several hours. And I was going to look like a new woman. A new woman who didn't have a toddler and didn't have dried petit filous matted in her hair. Yet, when I got there, what did I do? I spent 3 hours telling the hairdresser (who I've decided is Belfast's next top model and looked far too stress free to ever have even looked a toddler in the eye) aaaaallll about my 2 year old's birth. I also told her about his favourite food, favourite hobbies, first words, first sentence, favourite holiday, and basically his idea of a perfect first date. And to make matters worse, I clearly had a quarter-life crisis in Reuben's absence and dyed my hair brown. Well... kind of brown... there's still some blonde there. I wasn't drastic enough to leave all my blonde behind - it was a crisis, not a psychotic breakdown. When I came out of the hairdressers, I felt even more lost. In the words of the hairdresser herself I had my 'hair all beautified and nowhere to go'. (It wasn't actually beautifed. It was terrible. But I didn't have the heart to tell her that. In fact I had brown hair dye on my cheek that later turned my face-hair brown. Sure why would I do anything the conventional way?)

I spent the afternoon with my friend Anna who is forever saving me. I pitifully dragged her to 3 coffee shops just so I had something to do and someone to be with. Then I admitted it. I was lost without Reubs. I had nowhere to go and nowhere to be, and was needed by no one. I didn't know what this feeling was. I didn't know what this freedom was. I didn't know what to do when I wasn't being a mum. Even when I'm at uni, I constantly think 'I wonder if Reuben's okay. I wonder what he's doing. I wonder if he misses me'. But on this day I knew he was absolutely fine with my parents and he was having the time of his life. I constantly preach at people that motherhood does not define me. I get frustrated when other people are complimented on their humour, their friendliness, their talents, and I'm always told 'you're a good mum'. Every time, without fail, I scream 'I AM MORE THAN A MUM. THERE IS MORE TO ME THAN THE FACT I GAVE BIRTH. I AM STILL A PERSON. GOD MADE ME WITH OTHER CHARACTERISTICS'. In my defense I think every mama has been there. (They're just better at dealing with it than me). There comes a point when you realise you are no longer known as 'Reb'. You are now known as 'Reuben's mum'. But on this particular day I felt like I had lost my right arm. Maybe it was time to practice what I always preach. Motherhood does not define me.

2nd Coffee shop. Anna took this photo whilst supervising my
weird identity meltdown. 
When Anna finally got away from me, I went to Town Square... coffee shop number 4. I sat there until 8pm before realising I had forgot to feed myself. No Reuben = no reason to remember dinner. Thankfully another wonderful friend, G, had read my distressed messages about feeling lost and snuck into Town Square and had a brownie delivered to my table. (For all those people I've constantly asked to spell check my blog, please chill - his name is actually just G). The waitress encouragingly said 'Reb, your friend says to enjoy your brownie and enjoy your night off'. And that was the kick-up-the-butt-brownie I needed. I stopped being so ridiculous. I whipped out my bible, notebook, and 3 novels I've been meaning to read. And I relished in the chill time that I knew I needed. It was just as heavenly as I'd imagined... before that mini mum crisis happened.

Before going home to bed, I stopped with another slightly injured friend to deliver some 'sorry you had a cycling accident' sweets. Much to my disappointment he was doing absolutely fine and my desire to mother him was unfulfilled. Once I went home I was so restless I nearly cleaned. NEARLY. That's when I realised it was time for sleep. And I was so right - I slept from 12-7 without moving. I honestly think I died for 7 hours. It was exactly what I needed. I spent the morning blissfully reading and drinking coffee in bed without being hit across the face with a baby bottle and told to get up and turn on 101 Dalmatians. I went home more than ready to see Reubs but semi-regretted that I didn't embrace my 24 hours off in all its glory. Next time I'm going to write myself a reminder letter of all the things 'Reb' likes to do. Not things that 'Reb the mum' likes to do. And if that fails, I will have a whole stack of kick-up-the-butt-brownies ready just incase.

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