There was a time when the idea of 24 hours on my own would fill me with the kind of excited expectation not felt since the approach of Christmas Day when I was seven. As a work at home mum, I’ve never found it easy to extricate myself from my children. You get used to working around them, living around them, breathing around them.
My Mum and my sisters would tell me that I needed some ‘Me’ time, and they were right. There just never seemed to be a good time for it. Plus I have a secret penchant for ‘We’ time. (It’s just ‘me and two whinging children for long periods of time’ time that I really dislike.)
When the boys were young – and I mean the Breastfeeding/Screaming/Nappies end of young as opposed to just middling young like they are now – my joy of being away from them was tempered by anxiety of how they were doing without me. They were fine. Every time.
Then came the aforementioned days of euphoric, excited expectation at the idea of Getting Away. I would whisk myself off to meetings about work, drinks with friends, a movie… Lovely.
Now Getting Away involves three hours on a train in each direction. It usually entails squeezing in several client meetings at opposite ends of town, followed by hurried drinks with friends that usually end in a crippling hangover (serious lack of match practice). Still fun, but by the time one gets off the train at the end of the train line at the end of the trip one is swearing one will never leave town again.
But I think I’m finally getting the balance right. On Saturday morning I headed off to the Big Smoke to attend a course on writing about history at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I love these courses. Not just for the course content, which is always excellent, but for the other course attendees. There is a book in every writing workshop I attend.
I spent Saturday afternoon in the company of four different sets of friends. One, my oldest and dearest. Two, a couple that The Builder and I agree are two of our favourite people. Three, my brother TICH and his beloved (and her parents, an unexpected bonus). Four, my sister-in-writing-arms A, with whom I stayed. It was a relaxed and wonderful day of shooting the breeze and doing not much with people I love. Such days are hard to come by when you’re flying in and out of town for visits.
On Sunday, I went to my course, watered the seed of an idea that I’m cultivating in the back of my brain, bought some handmade chocolates and came home, via Elizabeth George’s latest book, which filled my three-hour train trip admirably.
As far as ‘Me’ time went, it ticked all the boxes. And even then I can honestly say that my favourite moment was getting off the train on Sunday night to an excited welcome from my boys. As Frank Sinatra sang ‘It’s oh so nice to just wander, But it’s so much nicer, yes it’s so much nicer, to wander back.”