I want to break free

Ecrins – southern Alps

Life in my house is always fun, which is rather a good thing too, as I spend nearly 24 hours a day in it. Some days, I’m full of motivation for getting all my chores done – drop husband off at the station at 6.50 am, hang around waiting for Sainsbury’s to open at 7 am, and spend the day washing, cleaning, ironing and playing with the baby.

Other days, like today, I just ghost through the place, not really finishing anything. I found a dead earthworm on the doormat this morning, and still haven’t done anything about it, four hours later. Classy. Earlier on, Conrad was on his playmat, and I decided to show him how to roll over, having forgotten that his legs will hurt from yesterday’s vaccinations. So we had a lot of angry crying and winning the bad mother award for the day.

It’s on days like these that I quite like watching music videos, sometimes for hours. The last time I did that was when I was 15. Listening to the lyrics, as they go on about youth and beauty and parties, is strangely fulfilling. Just like a stupid teenager, I think the words are particularly meaningful to me, and the videos remind me of all the things that make me feel free, like the time when I went to LA on a work trip for two weeks on my own, and spent most of my time driving around in this humongous SUV, just checking out the drive-thrus and the beaches north of LA, listening to Elvis on the radio and marveling at how Mulholland Drive can be so atmospheric at night. There’s a section at the start of Wake Me Up by Avicii where they’re driving up on of the freeway slip roads in the sunset, looks a bit like the way from Downtown to Santa Monica, and I started thinking that the lyrics applied to me:

“Wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older”…”wish I could stay forever this young, not afraid to close my eyes”

Some days, it does all feel like it’s over, and youth is indeed a dream I can no longer visualise, lost to my more sensible self. I’ve lost that sense of invincibility you have in your early twenties, when nothing is at stake and death is almost inconceivable. On a more positive note, there’s also:

“All this time I was finding myself, and I didn’t know I was lost”

The downside of being that young is that you don’t really know who you are, whereas now I feel quite established, even if eternally unfulfilled. As a mother, you almost feel obliged to feel fulfilled, or rather, it’s become irrelevant, because your life is about fulfilling your children. I usually do feel happy in a less heightened way than, say, winning a race or climbing a really hard route. It’s just that I also still have those moments of wanting to live a bit more edgily; I do little tiny irresponsible things, like accelerating far too quickly in a pedestrian area, and if I don’t have anyone else in the car, I put the music on so loud it vibrates the windows (which I keep carefully shut). They are minor glimpses of young and dumb that are unfortunately also super fun.

Before Conrad was born, there was a James Blunt song that I found  touching, because predictably enough the lyrics seemed to apply so much to my life. It’s rather embarrassing to admit, since I’m sure he writes them to appeal to his middle-aged (or German) audience:

Days like these lead to…
Nights like this lead to
Love like ours.

I can’t help thinking of the time before we knew we were having a baby, those days in the Lake District (which led to nights, which led to babies), or in Chamonix, that were so hugely fulfilling, and how much I love my husband and our son.

Sometimes I miss the pushier , driven and perhaps somewhat hard-nosed person I was before I had a baby. I never cried about anything, never talked about my personal/family life at work, never expected anyone to care. As one colleague said to me last week, “You were an honorary bloke”.
Now, I can’t stop telling everyone about my wonderful son. I can’t watch anything involving children suffering, and even the start of Star Trek, with the uber-cheesy section where Kirk’s father dies as his child is born, made me cry.

I think we need to get out into the fresh air a bit more, remember that there is a life to be lived outdoors, just feel the sun on my face.

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