Parenting Balance: The freedom and the regret

Parenting Balance

Immediately after I drop my boys into another’s care, there is a frisson of freedom. A shivery feeling of delight when my window of responsibility shrinks to exactly one person. I love the boys, adore them, would do anything for them but I still crave time away.

Before my head fills with what the day will yield, I breath out. Long and slow. Relish the silence. Sink into the luxury of a quiet car and the opportunity to listen to Podcasts with swear words in them. I gather up my frayed nerves and let them settle.

On the very rare days where daycare and school means timeΒ to myself without work, I feel like a kid on the brink of holidays. The world is shining and full of potential adventure. Does the manic glee make me a bad mother or just a normal one?

Most days, in the moments after the long breath out, I’ll start making mental lists. Methodically go through what I need to achieve, who I need to contact and what needs to be resolved. As I shift the car into reverse and carefully leave the day care car park, my mind shifts into its work gear. I leave the kids and mother mode behind.

Work mornings mean a decent, hot coffee before I enter the office. I walk determinedly with my phone in one hand and a large takeaway (keep) cup in the other. Happy and present in this part of my life.

And then I see them.

A mother or grandmother with their child. Maybe the same age as my youngest. They sit together enjoying the slow morning. The kid is chatting non-stop, looking adorable in neat clothes that have yet to see play. And my heart stops. Lurches from work mode and dives straight back to motherhood.

I am overcome with an irrational but real desire to drive back to my boys, scoop them up and take them away on an impromptu adventure. In that split moment I wonder what I am doing. Why I am spending any time away from my great loves. What on earth could be more important than that?

I look over at the cherub that has sent me into an emotional tailspin. She is involved in one of her own. Pouting and a tantrum about to be delivered. Mumma/Grandma is on edge, her face stormy and impatient. The idyllic scene which I had conjured in my head is shattered. And I remember. The reality of children is not the fantasy that tugged on my heartstrings.

Mumma/Grandma glances my way and I give what I hope is an understanding smile. She looks slightly desperate. As though she’d prefer to be anywhere else. Holding a coffee, about to go into an office and talk to adults for instance.

Suddenly, memories surface. Being in a coffee shop with my boys and trying to negotiate an impending explosion over sharing a dotty cookie. Feeling at my wits end and catching a single woman in the corner of my eye. A woman with a coffee in her hand and not a care in her world. I desperately wanted to be her.

And this is parenting. This is life. Wondering whether the other side is really any greener. Concern over whether the choices we make are the best for ourselves and our families.

All the while, there are people envying the moments we are in while we are jealously eyeing theirs. Perhaps in this constant struggle for balance, the trick is to be happy in the moments we have chosen.

Do you have pangs of regret when you are working and see other people’s children?


Linking up with Kylie Purtell – Capturing Life and IBOT


25 thoughts on “Parenting Balance: The freedom and the regret

  1. hugzilla says:

    Love your posts as always. I find myself mostly on the other side of this and yes, I often stare wistfully over the fence too. It’s a weird form of existential FOMO.

  2. Vanessa says:

    I think the idea of a day of freedom making you excited is plain healthy πŸ™‚

    I often want to just stay on the train and get off at the last stop to just wander a different suburb. The grass may be greener. Sometimes the grass is sand and we really need to dig our toes into it.
    Vanessa recently posted…(Fake) Newer Home FadsMy Profile

  3. Bec Senyard says:

    Love this post Robyna. We truly do have to be happy in the moment. Not everything is as it seems. The pangs are normal I’d think. But we always revert to a perfect reality, not the reality that it sometimes is. x

  4. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid says:

    What a lovely post. I’m not a parent but I totally get this. I think you sum it up so beautifully in the last line “the trick is to be happy in the moments we have chosen.” And I think that’s a trick we can all strive to master, in every facet of life.
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…Taking Stock – JulyMy Profile

  5. Tracy says:

    So true – the grass always looks greener, until you discover it’s not. My current longing is just not to be needed by anyone for about two days. It’s a long time since I’ve been away with some girlfriends, or a retreat or anything. Since my job means I’m needed all day, and at home I’m needed by everyone who lives here, I just want to remember who I am by myself for more than 5 minutes.

    And I wouldn’t feel guilty about that at all!
    Tracy recently posted…And Week 1 Flew ByMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Drinking hot coffee and pining over kids or looking after kids and pining for a hot coffee. One day we will have both πŸ™‚

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