Time to myself

I have the week off. What a treat. We’ve been for a long weekend at my mum’s house, a relaxing weekend of good food, old friends and scarecrows, and came away laden with home grown plums and gooseberries, some new toys for E and a mysterious anniversary present for next month. This Friday we head to the other grandparents for the weekend – more good food, a large barbecue and treats for E are in store.

In between I have taken three days from work, in an effort to be more sensible with my leave, spread out relaxing time and generally have some time to myself. I’ve been looking forward to it and have told myself that I won’t do boring things (clearing out the bathroom cupboard or cleaning) but creative things instead.

As if sensing she might be missing out, E was clingy and cried when I left her at nursery for the first time in ages yesterday. The chances are that she was actually tired having kept herself up late the night before talking to herself and her toys, nevertheless, I did feel a pang of guilt at leaving her when I was just going home again.

I did a spot of writing work at my desk and then headed out. I had writing exercises, a notebook, a large bottle of water, and my ipod with me. I walked in the sun, felt myself bloom a little, stopped in the arboretum, exchanged pleasantries with an old geezer who said hello, wrote some more and ambled into town. In the city, I made a note of some music sessions for under 5s at the Royal Centre, browsed in a second hand bookshop (bought Paula by Isabel Allende and some birthday cards), ran some errands for S and made my way to an art gallery. The idea was to write in different places, to stimulate the creative juices and get some new ideas to work with. The art was terrible (I always feel I should go to the gallery as it’s prestigious and I hate being the kind of person who likes living in a city where lots goes on but I never go to any of it. So I go, and the art always leaves me feeling nonplussed) but it got me thinking in other ways.

And so to the cinema. One of the treats I’d promised myself was a trip to see a film – I’ve not been to a regular screening of a film since I was pregnant. I’d decided on Boyhood and sat huddled down with a packet of pistachios to nibble on for 2 1/2 hours. Once it was over (I thought it was ok but not so worthy of all the plaudits and, as it went, I was more interested in the boy’s mother than him) I headed straight for my reading group. All in all it was a nice relaxing day.

I got home to S by 8.45 who told me that E, as she headed upstairs to bed, turned to the window and waved “Goodbye Mummy, see you later!” Apparently she always looks to the gate for me at bedtime – sometimes I make it home from work for bedtime and sometimes I don’t. Isn’t that just the loveliest thing you ever heard? Obviously I felt even more guilty that I was sitting drinking a small overpriced cup of coffee and discussing Graham Greene at the time.

I’m not really bathing in guilt, you understand. But there is a small voice that tells me I’m being selfish at having a few days to myself when I could be with her. And I do enjoy being with her – especially at the moment when her development is so obvious each day. This morning she commented on how pretty the garden looked and that it was windy. It was like having a conversation with a neighbour. She must have copied it from us at some point, bless her.

Of course, I’m realising three days really aren’t enough for all the things I want to do. Today I’m making plum jam and plum cakes, working on a couple of short stories, making notes on research for my book, sorting through the knitting projects that are piled behind the sofa and taking E for a haircut. I could do things like this for months on end. But I can’t. So three days will have to be enough.

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