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...