Ask a mother what she wants for Christmas and you can guaran-goddamn-tee it she's lying says Sophie White
Of course no one asks you what you want for Christmas after you're had kids. Maybe they're too afraid that we'll nail them with some horrifying nuclear truth missile like:
"What do you want for Christmas?"
"My old vagina back."
The fact is that once you've spawned, you don't really matter that much anymore. Not to your family, not to your partner, not even to your friends. Post child I would be unleashed from the kids to go and meet my friends only to find them noticeably disappointed that I was arriving alone, sans infant.
That's the sad fact of motherhood you genuinely become a second class citizen in your own life and for the most part that's cool because, ya know, you like your kids and they're great, but when it comes to holidays and birthdays and Christmas that chasm between your old life and your new life has never seemed wider. Pre-kids the Christmas wish list is a concrete thing replete with new clothes, books, night's out, life's little luxuries essentially. Post-kids the list undergoes something of a transformation. And while you might smile and say "oh a bottle of perfum or a voucher for a massage would be lovely," in reality your needs now are infinitely more complex.
The Real Christmas Wish List For Bedraggled Mothers
The biggest obstacle to finding me time is your own guilt, I find. Overcoming this will set you free. When I'm suffering from parental guilt, I try to return to the fact that our own parents fed us freeze-dried baby food, spiked our bottles with whiskey to aid sleep and frequently 'lost' us. If you know roughly where you're child is and you haven't resorted to lightly drugging them to get them off to sleep then you're probably doing fine and deserve a bit of alone time. If only I could get my head around this.
Some Festive Childcare
Family get-togethers are an unlikely but brilliant place to score some free childcare. At family gatherings, there's built-in childcare in the form of older cousins not yet too jaded to look after kids. Also, baby-starved mothers of older children will definitely want to get a hold of younger babies to get a hit of that sweet, sweet baby head smell, leaving you free to slip away to the bathroom for at least 25 minutes. The only flaw in this strategy is that your alone time is invariably hijacked by chatty Sinead, your cousin's wife who wants to talk house prices, which is why we need to treat our selves to caveat-free childcare at Christmas.
A similarly bedraggled mother to empathise with your plight
The rest of society can be pretty unsympathetic to mothers when they want to have a good old medicinal whinge. The old "nobody's forcing you to have these kiddies and frankly. you're ruining the environment with all this procreating" argument is often levelled at the moaning mum. This is why we need a mother-in-arms to moan with. A lesser-known fact about children is that, somewhat counter intuitively, the more there are, the easier they are to handle. Once you store several kids in a confined space together, a sort of Lord of the Fliesian mini-society will evolve, and they essentially raise each other while you and your pal can repair to the gin cupboard and wile away a few contented hours. Just keep an ear out for any unnerving stretches of silence that's the signal to get in there asap and break them up.
Space to just think my thoughts
Every minute of the day is taken up with logistics when you're a parent. It's bad enough suffering through my constant internal monologue which is 29% work stressing, 21% family stressing, 36% what will we have for dinner and 14% where's my phone/keys/wallet/child/mind? Sometimes all I want is to be able to have a moment to think with out the additional external soundtrack of crying, shout-chanting of 'mum' 84,000 times a day and the Paw Patrol theme song roaring at all times in the background.
Space to just think about nothing at all
Ah the luxury. The greatest vice I have in my life now is wasting time. I highly recommend a deep google of the oeuvre of Simon Amstell if you find yourself luxuriating in a bit of time to waste. Such and funny and attractive young man.
Some kind of cosmic confirmation that you're not screwing it all up and ruining your kids' forever
I don't know if there's a shop online selling this or maybe an app for it, but maybe there should be. An app to dispense affirmations along the lines of "You got this mama" and "sure, look at Rosemary West's kids, some of them turned out okay".
My old vagina back
The new one is grand and all, it's not totally banjaxed but there's something just ever so slightly different. A bit like the feeling when someone who is only slightly taller or shorter than you has driven your car and the seat has been adjusted. Or when an 8lb slab of baby has barrelled through what is clearly a too-small exit.