I lied to my husband and went to a hotel room in secret

Sophie White assumed that if she ever made a foray into adulterous behaviour, it would involve another person. She hadn't anticipated that the person she'd want to run away to a hotel with might just be herself

There are a lot of things that people don't really think about when contemplating becoming parents. You consider the practical. You buy prams, paint the junk room, you get a cot. You put a lot of prep into spaces to put the child when it eventually comes out. Ironic really given that what every mother soon discovers is that while the baby may exit your vagina, they never really leave your body.
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baby-cuddles are the greatest and I adore my babies but before babies I was a person who really, really liked to be alone
When my first child was born I waged an exhausting war of trying to get him to leave my body. At the beginning my ambitions were mega – I wanted him to sleep in his own cot in his own room – by the end I just wanted to luxuriate in washing the dishes without a 50lb person trying to scale my body.
Baby II was no less inclined to leave me alone, though by then I was a defeated shadow of my former self. I'd been aiming to be a non-contact parent in the tradition of ... I dunno... Katherine Hepburn? Loving but aloof. However, I'd fought the war and the war one. So with Baby II, I barely bothered trying. And for sure, baby-cuddles are the greatest and I adore my babies but before babies I was a person who really, really liked to be alone. I am an introverted extrovert – I love to be around people but I need time to reset. We all do.
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Ditch the husband

I remember someone once asked me what parental love was like. The best I could come up with was a somewhat dark analogy. I said:
"Hey, you love your husband right?"
"Obviously," she laughed.
"Okay so now imagine that you meet someone and you realise that if the situation arose where, through some presumably extraordinary events, you had choose which of them had to go. You would ditch your husband. It's not that you'd want to but, ya know, you had to pick. Once you have a kid, that's just the way it goes."
"Riiiiiight," I expect she was expecting a slightly cozier answer than that but this is just fact.
"Don't read into it, you still love your husband but ya know if it's him or the baby. Easy. Him. And he'd be the same about you believe me."
Related: The night nanny: Godsend or unnecessary indulgence?

Don't touch me

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In motherhood, as much as we're consumed by this intoxicating almost senseless love, our lives become inconceivably crowded and not only that, our bodies are co-opted in the most literal sense by our children. It can be... difficult. A little suffocating even.
We adore them, we would die for them, but sometimes we want to get the hell away from them.
Recently, I knew that I was nearing an edge of sorts. My second child – a gorgeous guy, he sings Baby Shark in depths of the night, he loves a good stick, he will leave no passerby un-charmed – had developed an obsession with me that bordered on pathological. It had been weeks of chanting my name, becoming unhinged if I so much as went into the next room and clawing and burrowing at my body as if no embrace was close enough.
"He wants to get back in," remarked my husband blandly one evening.
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"He's trying to climb inside MY F*CKING SOUL," was my admittedly slightly histrionic reply. He laughed but I was serious. This thing was starting to get to me. Even in times that I did manage to un-peel him from my person, the guilt remained, clawing and burrowing at me with every ounce of the same determination. That is the terrible paradox of motherhood. We adore them, we would die for them, but sometimes we want to get the hell away from them. And if we ever indeed manage to do that The Guilt shadows us like a haunting, emotional buzz-kill.
"It's just that if one more f*cking person touches me I'm gonna go on some kind of rampage. I am all touched out."
Later on that night, my husband sidled up behind me and tried to nuzzle my neck.
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"Get off," I shrugged him away. It was total reflex. The words out and the shove shoved before I could call them back. "I'm sorry," I tried as he backed off clearly annoyed slash hurt. "It's just that if one more f*cking person touches me I'm gonna go on some kind of rampage. I am all touched out."
Related: Things Fall Apart: It’s a gift when friends love your children as their own

The Affair

In fairness to him, the husband took this admission quite seriously. We agreed that I needed a day to myself. 12 hours where no one was invading me or chanting my name or needing needing needing me.
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So it was, in fact, he who initiated what I've come to call The Affair.
"Take Saturday. You could even go stay at your mother's on Friday night to get a proper lie in and a good sleep."
Oh, he was on to something. When you're at this particular juncture of motherhood, just psyching yourself up to trying to leave your children can be emotionally exhausting. It was arranged. I would slip away after bedtime and return the next evening.
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I'm having an affair with myself and I'm going to make a night of it. I was jubilant.
What he didn't bank on of course was me getting too into this idea. I decided to treat myself. Especially as earlier that week I caught myself thinking "treat yourself, Soph" as I threw out the old kitchen scrubby sponge and instated a brand new one.
I needed to set the 'treat yourself' bar higher.
Then I went arguably too high and got myself a room in The Address Hotel in Dublin 1. I'm having an affair with myself and I'm going to make a night of it. I was jubilant. I can do anything I want and nobody can touch me unless it's me goddamnit!
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Related: The agony and ecstasy of having a small age gap between children
I began making arrangements which required all the intrigue of a real affair. Cash withdrawals so that my husband wouldn't see any unusual activity on our joint account and trace it to the hotel.
When I described to my mother what I used my one night of freedom for she seemed pitying but honestly it was restorative.
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"This is why I am always telling you to set up a secret running away account," my mother lectured emphatically when I called her to bring her up to speed on the plan, she was my alibi after all.
I hid my bike helmet and lights in our wheelie bin so that the husband wouldn't ask why I was cycling to my mother's house – she lives close by.

Luxurious indulgence

When the appointed hour arrived, I hit the road and I kid you not the familiar streets of Dublin felt like a new city. I ate delicious steak dinner in the Cookhouse restaurant with my kindle propped in front of me, resolutely refusing to engage with anyone who tried to talk to me. I took a bath in the plush marble bathroom. I sprawled on the bed taking in the view from my Georgian-fronted hideaway in the city. I listened to my podcasts and did my knitting without the hanging threat of a baby needing me or a broken night's sleep. It was restorative.
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When I described to my mother what I used my one night of freedom for she seemed pitying but honestly it was restorative.
The next day I ambled around my city which obliged with a gorgeous Dublin day. I did stuff. I went to the cinema. I ate. But mainly I luxuriated in the sheer indulgence of empty hours.
When I came home it felt like I was returning from a week's holiday.
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So, if you're nearing an edge, if you can, run away with yourself. An hour, a day whatever you can make happen. Treat yourself.

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