I’m assuming everyone knows what THE fear actually is. I think there are definitely different types of the fear but most people would relate it to booze and nasty hangovers.
I had a chat just yesterday with my hubby and our good friend about what the fear meant to them and what day it would land on post hangover. Back in my mid to late twenties I would spend many a Tuesday at work with the fear or at least teetering on the edge of the fear. To me and my buddies during that period of my life, it was a feeling you had after a serious amount of continuous drinking, late nights and blurry memories. The fear was that worry that you were a total dick, that you embarrassed yourself, that you had unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, flashed your spanks or discussed your period to a total stranger. But you had killed so many brain cells with Savvy B and vodka you couldn’t actually work out if it was true or not. To my hubby and our friend the fear was a morning after feeling. Just an immediate fear you had when you woke up feeling like hell.
In my late 20s I would go out most weeks from a Wednesday evening through to a Sunday. I ask myself now, how did I ever survive or afford that? I would happily get up for work on a Friday morning having gone to bed at 2 and laugh my way through work with colleagues who had led me astray (or the other way round of course). Monday was always just a Monday; head down, clean eating, exercise and early bed in the hopes to mend any damage done at the end of the previous week. But for me, Tuesday was always the scary day of sweats and anxiousness. You know what I mean?
Then I had children. Since then the fear has taken on various different guises and some of them have really surprised me. When my first son was born, I remember lying in bed one morning with him, very soon after coming home from hospital with the MASSIVE fear. I was so scared and worried about how much I loved this tiny person. I would kill for him. I wasn’t sure I could cope with the love. Then as time passed there were other types of mummy fear…… I couldn’t drink a drop of alcohol until he was tucked up in bed fast asleep. At my parents house the cork pops at exactly 6pm every night…… nanny and pops have happy hour every night, they always seem to quote something about the yard arm. My dad would look at me incredulously when I said ‘No thanks, not until Bobby is asleep’ To me just a whiff of alcohol before baby was asleep spelt serious MUMMY fear. It meant teetering on the edge of NOT being able to do this mummy thing. Of not being able to cope if alcohol was involved. Now, 3 babies later, I can happily drink from 1pm onwards if the occasion calls for it. 11am if the kids aren’t there. I am that leathery, wisened old bird who knows that kids will eventually settle, 5 glasses of wine or not. I now get The mummy fear from other situations, mainly caused by sleep deprivation.
I have just got back from a weekend skiing with some friends who are all mummies too. Between us we have 13 kids. We booked it last May, 5 weeks post 3rd baby. The thought of this holiday kept me going through all the newborn craziness. I love skiing as it is the ultimate escape. Exhilarating and physical. Skiing can be a dangerous sport and the idea of whizzing down the mountain every day at great speed (well, medium speed in my case… driving miss Daisy) should surely induce The mummy fear. I mean all that responsibility resting on your ski ability. Surprisingly it didn’t. You are just concentrating on staying alive and stunned by the scenery around you. It’s the only holiday that I think you truly escape from every day life.
I have always wanted to take my boys skiing but I had a sudden thought; how will I cope seeing my precious ones doing something that can be so dangerous! We were enjoying the peaceful but freezing chairlifts (proper conversations, no kiddy interruptions) and we were all enthralled by all the little people we saw skiing. So brave, so fearless.The mummy fear washed over me in waves.
The thought of drinking for 4 days did give me The fear a bit, but the chat of going ‘out out’ on one of the nights gave me the massive FEAR. To a club, no less. I’ve realised that I do still love a drink. I still love going out and hanging out with my mates, kids or no kids, but the minute I’ve eaten dinner, that’s my lot. I’m ready for my house, my bed and sleep, so that in the morning The fear is nowhere in sight. I want to wake up to the chaos in my own house, it doesn’t matter how hungover I am.
I have a very close friend (she will know who she is) who I have discussed The fear with a lot. She has talked me through it many a time. I have talked her through it many a time. But our fear has always been due to sleep deprivation, that total bastard jetlag. Sometimes with a bottle of red mixed in. We have travelled around the world for our jobs together for a long time and stayed in some seriously weird hotels and got plastered in some even weirder hotel bars. The fear has always been in the back of our minds. Our solution was to always sleep in the same room. If you are wide awake in the middle of the night in a city in China that no one else has heard of, you might as well be doing it together. Those crazy trips were spent teetering on the edge of The fear with each other. Booze and the thoughts of our babies stopped us from falling. Oh, and of course the age old remedy of laughter. Delirious laughter, that arrived always around 3pm induced by some awful song or some mad woman dancing (us), in a meeting. We were always very professional lol.
Back in October I went to an all day rave for my best buddies birthday. It was an Annie Mac one. We all love Annie Mac right? I loved the thought of reliving my raving yoof, a good dance is good for the soul. Especially when it finishes at 10pm. In my mind I thought it would be full of like minded 30 somethings who had been for a nice civilised lunch first, just like we had. God, was I wrong!! it was full of gurning, 90s dressed young’uns looking exactly how we looked the in the actual real 1990s. After a pint of white wine, I felt I could cope and then actually began to enjoy it. Bearing in mind it was still daylight. When it got dark I found myself in an underground car park with the floor vibrating from the bassline and the strobe pushing me to a millimetre away from epilepsy.
Despite the 5 pints of white wine, I was clinging on to the edge of the ultimate mummy fear with the tips of my fingers. When it finished at 10 and all the child free ones were heading on to a cool late bar in Hackney, I happily hopped onto the train back to the safety of my house and saved dinner from my hubby. I had looked the fear straight in the eye and punched it on the nose. I felt smug the next morning. Although there is no way i will be going back to an all day rave.
The fear is real. it comes in many forms and the older i get, the easier it is to recognise. I am lucky enough to have friends and family who understand the fear, they don’t think I’m loco, hopefully. Whatever disguise it comes in, its real for so many of us and changes as our lives change. I find the only way to get through it is with good friends, family, chats, an exercise class, bootcamp, a walk, a cuddle and sometimes even more booze. I have to remind myself its only ever temporary. Facing The fear and conquering it is an achievement whether you are a mummy or not.
N.B. FYI i have always found a diet coke is a great Fear remedy whatever the situation.