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Monday, November 30, 2009

Yearning the Simpler Life

You know how sometimes a certain smell, sound or situation can remind you of a time of the past? Kind of like a de ja vu thing? Well, I feel that occasionally, and yesterday I went for a walk, to collect dinner of all things, and I was transported back in time.

When Hubby and I first moved to Sydney almost 14 years ago, we lived in Neutral Bay, which is close to the city and is full of young, professional couples and restaurants. We really didn't have to go anywhere if we didn't want to, it was all there. Even many of our closest friends lived nearby. And I remember walking along the main road that runs through Neutral Bay on more than one occasion, window shopping and trying to choose where we'd eat that night.

We ate out a lot. Especially on weekends. We'd often grab a DVD afterwards (a video back then actually), and settle down in front of the tv and munch on Maltesers. The film would finish late, but that was ok, we could sleep in the next day. And we did. We often wouldn't get up until well after 9am on weekends, probably closer to 10am in fact. Then we'd head off for some brunch somewhere. Manly Beach was a favourite on a Sunday. Afterwards we'd walk along the beach and then maybe take a look at the shops, grab an ice-cream and slowly make our way back to the car. If we'd eaten a late lunch, we'd sometimes skip dinner and just grab some toast or something instead.

Exhausted after brunching, lunching, shopping - or all three - we'd often grab a nap in the afternoon. Then we'd get up and do it all over again. Dinner, movie, catch up with friends.

Back then, if we didn't feel like cooking, we'd just head up the road for some takeaway. And if we felt like a walk after dinner, we'd go. Off in to the night, walking along the busy main road of Neutral Bay, and along the streets close to our apartment.

At a moment's notice, we could get in the car and just drive. Maybe throw a towel and our bathers in the back, in case we decided to take a last minute swim at the beach.

Life was easy. We just went with the flow.

And so last night, as I walked along our main road where we live now, towards the restaurants, and with the warm Spring weather around me, it was a combination of the weather and the sound of the busy street that reminded me of the time Hubby and I lived in Neutral Bay. Without kids. Without much responsibility. Able to drop everything and do anything we wanted to at any time. And last night, on my way to collect our food, I missed that.

When you have kids, you don't often do things last minute. For the most part, every aspect of your life is kind of planned, and you have to work around children's nap times, bed times, meal times and scheduled activities. There are no sleep-ins either. A sleep-in these days is 8am, and it's rare. Or you stay in bed whilst your partner attempts to keep your kids quiet, and that's not often too successful.

If you take an afternoon nap, you're almost always woken by someone. In fact, you never really sleep completely relaxed anyway, at any time, because you know that at some point, you'll be woken by a child calling out, or coming in to your room to stare at you until you wake, or climb in to bed with a book, asking you to read it. Even when it is only 5.30am.

Brunch is replaced by an early breakfast, and perhaps grabbing some morning tea somewhere, where at least one of the kids will spill their milkshake or fight over the last piece of banana bread. Or both. And forget reading the paper, because you'll be interrupted every couple of minutes by a question from your toddler or you'll need to referee and argument between someone.

And taking a drive in the car? Only if you have no problem with being driven almost to the point of insanity by being asked constantly, "When are we going to get there?" which is almost always followed with, "I'm bored."

And what about a quick swim at a nearby beach? Forget it. If you haven't packed the swimmers, the goggles, the towels, the nappy change bag, drinks, snacks, a beach tent - more than likely the "quick swim" will turn in to a disaster.

And you might feel like a walk after dinner, but there's always bath time and the need to get kids in to bed, because if you don't, they'll be a nightmare the following day and you'll regret every minute you let them stay up after bedtime.

And then last night, as I walked back from collecting dinner, I thought about all of those things I miss when it was just Hubby and I. And though I had a feeling of yearning for those days within me, I also felt a sort of empty feeling inside when I did think back to that time. I think it's only a feeling you have in retrospect, once your children are born. Before Hubby and I had our kids, I never thought my relationship with him was missing something and I never felt our life had any sense of loneliness about it. I knew I wanted kids, and felt a yearning for them when we eventually started trying for a baby, but life was full. And of course, if we hadn't had children, I'm sure we would have found other ways to fulfill our lives and move forward in our relationship. Plenty of people do.

But now I have my 3 boys, I can't help think that our lives back then were lacking something. We were happy, but we are far happier now that we share our lives with our boys. And whilst I have had, and will continue to have, many times where I long for that simpler life, I would never want to go back to it. Ever.

As I returned home last night to hear the sounds of my children running around before bed time, their voices high with excitement and the noise flowing easily out the front door, I realised the relative quiet I had enjoyed during my walk was now over.

But I couldn't help but smile. I was home.

Ever yearn for your life before kids? Or if you don't have kids yet, a simpler life?

Until next time...


Lisakama said...

Great post... Now that is exactly how I feel...how I miss the times with just me and my husband lazying around and able to do what we pleased when we pleased....but now with out two lovely boys life is busy, full, and crazy but wouldn't change it for the world. :)

Shiron said...

I have always been the type of person who occasional needs 'time out' from, well other humans :) and my husband always respected this need, but my 3 children are nothing like that, they are loud, argumentative, intelligent, very social beings who don't cut me any slack in the attention stakes, lol! So I must admit of late I was becoming 'frustrated' with not having any alone time, ever! and it was making me 'cranky mum'. Enters relative who asks if I could do a meals on wheels run for her and I spend a couple of hours with elderly people who see no-one, ever! They are lonely to a point it makes you want to cry and the half hour it takes took me 2. They want to show you pictures and ask questions and its so hard to leave. It was a kind of epithany and I think for me I only craved the quiet because I'm safe in the knowledge they would all still be waiting for me with their stories and questions and demands! and how very very lucky I am. Great post...

Ami said...

Beautiful post Jodie! As you know we don't have babies yet, but we have a puppy that thinks 5.00am is a great time to sit on the bed and hit us in the head with his paw until someone gets up and takes him for a walk!

The look of joy on his face just makes me melt and I could never get angry at him, so I can't even begin to imagine what it would feel like when it's a human baby instead of a fur baby!!

I'm more intrigued to see how our marriage will change after a baby comes along, as opposed to scared. And while I'll probably miss the lazy Sunday afternoon's with Hubby, I'm so far past the clucky point of no return it's not funny! Great post! :)

Cherish said...

Lovely post but made me quite sad actually. My husband and I were looking forward to doing that all again when the children were older....but then he got fed up with it all (the responsibility) and left.
His loss.

Brenda said...

What a beautiful post Jodie. You say it so eloquently.

...and it's true our kids are our blessings. They make our lives a lot better and fuller. My kids may sometimes drive me up the wall but I wouldn't have it any other way.xox

Nomie said...

Great post Jodie. It's true, sometimes I yearn for my past life... but just like you, I look at my kids, and Hubby, and what we have now, and think how lucky I am.
Beautifully written xxx

Tara@Waffling Along said...

I completely underestimated how much children can make you laugh. My kids can be two of the funniest people I have ever met and I think that's very cool. Really nice post Jodie :) xx

april said...

beautiful. Thank you.

jessica bern said...

I have a hard time imagining life before my kid, before my divorce but i can tell you, I wouldn't trade it either

Thea said...

I love this post. That's just what our life was like in Brisbane, it was wonderful. It is quite amazing how our lives are a series of phases. And this 'little kids' phase, as draining and tiring as it is, will also be over one day so I'm constantly reminding myself to enjoy it while it lasts.

I love your blog!! :)

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Yep - sometimes we need a situation to help put things in to perspective. Sometimes I feel guilty for yearning my old life on some days. Like, it could be bad luck to do it. But it's human nature to want some time alone. I know it makes me a better mum and wife if I have that time to myself.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Marriage will change a little bit, but depends on the couple. When Hubby and I had kids, I felt as though it bonded us in one way, but we also argued at times because we found we had some different ways of parenting. And that still happens. It's about finding the compromise and sticking to the big picture!

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

It IS his loss Cherish. I'm so sorry. x

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Thanks Lisakama!!

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Agree. And thanks...

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Thanks Nomie. Always love your comments! x

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Aren't they ever? I love my boys' sense of humour - especially when it doesn't involve toilet talk!

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Thanks April!

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Aww..you're sweet. Thanks Thea!

I'm sure we'll look back on these years fondly. One day. :)

In fact, I know we will.