Sometimes life as a SAHM has a lot of sameness about it. Days and weeks blend into one another, filled with the same routine, the same people, the same playdates. I’m not keen on monotony; I like to mix things up a bit. But when you have a small child to look after, I have discovered to my cost, that ‘mixing it up a bit’ and being spontaneous, doesn’t always work so well. Being planful often works out best and this seems to result in a happier child too. It seems that there is a reason why the word ‘routine’ features so heavily in parenting books. Despite my natural propensity to be a rolling stone, over the last few years, Pip and I have fallen into our own little pattern of life. We’re like two goldfish swimming in a bowl; we go round and round, the same way, doing the same things, day after day, week after week. Unfortunately I don’t have the short memory of a goldfish, which means that some days, another spoonful of dejavu isn’t entirely palatable and I crave a change of scene.
Mondays are a good example of a routine day for us. Our drill has been perfected like a military operation. We get up, breakfast and are ready to leave the house early. Monday is the only day of the week when I insist Pip gets in the buggy, just because we’re venturing too far to use the scooter. Our route is always the same; along the road, around the back of the church, past the school, Pip always makes the same comment every time we walk past the scooters chained to the railings; ‘Look Mummy! Look at all those scooters’, and I often wonder the same thing - what the collective noun for a group of scooters would be? (A macro of micros is my best guess). We then walk past the famous actor’s house and I surreptitiously peer into his recycling box to make things interesting. (This week, there was nothing, as he was at the Oscars presenting an award, which was most disappointing as it’s always a highlight of my Monday morning to see what he’s been eating and drinking the past week.) Then onwards we go, past the Grade II listed building that is home to an important historical society, and I sneak a peek at the three young, male historians sitting in the office, just starting their day, usually chatting, possibly exchanging stories about their weekend. I like to look at the chap who sits in the right of the window, the one with the longish hair, who wears a cravat (but in a stylish, retro kind of way rather than an anachronistic social misfit one, and wonder also if the panama hat on the hatstand by the door belongs to him or someone else.) These things all make my Monday morning pilgrimage slightly more interesting. Continuing our journey, we turn onto the main road, and then left, past the park, until we near our destination, passing under the arches of the railway bridge, where, every weekend, someone fly tips rubbish. This week, the pile of unwanted possessions included a framed photo montage of some sweet looking children. I wondered who would want to get rid of such a lovely picture, especially when someone had written in the middle, ‘I love you Daddy.’ Finally, a few steps later, we arrive at the swimming pool, for Pip’s lesson.
Once, I had to get into the pool with Pip but these days he is proficient enough to swim on his own in the pool with the teacher. If it’s not ‘watching week’, Mums have to sit downstairs, and so I chat, and catch up on the weekly going ons of other people’s lives. Then, back to poolside, to rescue my little swimmer and get him changed. ‘Can I have my biscuits now Mummy’? Always the same biscuits, every week - shaped like little elephants, in a green packet. After swimming we make our way to the shops, to buy food for tea, before we head home for a quick spot of lunch before dashing out again early afternoon, to ‘Big Boy’ Playgroup. Post Big Boy playgroup we travel home again via the swings and the park, Pip shouting; ‘Push me higher Mummy, higher!’ or he’ll climb up the climbing frame and shout down at me, ‘There’s fire on your toes!’ before he slides down the fireman’s pole to blow them out.
Sometimes the sameness of it all can seem rather energy sapping. At the weekend I say to my husband, ‘Let’s get out of here’. Not because it’s not a nice place to live, it is, but just because I want to see and do something different. New experiences make life interesting- they invigorate the mind and the soul. Yesterday as I was pushing the swing ‘higher’ for the umpteenth time, I wondered what I would do with my life when these days are gone; when Pip has started at school. Even though life in the goldfish bowl can sometimes feel monotonous, Pip makes it interesting and it is a pleasure being with him. We have fun together, and those moments when he achieves something, like swimming in the water without me, make the eighteen months of schlepping to the pool every week so worthwhile.
For all the frustration I sometimes feel about the sameness of it all, I know I’ll miss these days once they’re over. I’ll miss him when he goes to school. And I don’t want to be a lonely goldfish swimming around all day on my own. I always thought there’d be another tiddler fish in tow by this point, but despite our best efforts alas, still no tiddler fish to be seen. So maybe it’s time for me to start thinking about leaping out of the bowl and back into the big wide ocean; to think about going back to work, or retraining to do something new. Scary, but possibly quite exciting too.