I can't tell you how many times I have been called "Layla's mummy". I have a name but they don't want to know because that's who I am to them. I am the walking womb that gestated their child's thirty second best friend. I find myself introducing myself this way too and I don't think I have gone an entire conversation with someone without fitting in that I have a fiancé and two children. Girls. Aged four and two. It's like I feel guilty if I don't slot them in there because they are a huge part of my life. It is not a guilt that is pushed on me by anyone but myself. I am their mother.
I am also Laura. I'm twenty four years old and I like coffee, writing, finding shoes that fit me, pouring over endless extortionately priced magazines, singing and the days where I don't have to cook. I like the days when I win a coin toss and don't have to tend to that dirty nappy. I like taking off my day clothes, hoisting my chest into a dress and going out. I have locked myself in the bathroom and cried when my kids have got too much like Charlotte from Sex And The City. I have thrown caution to the wind and busied the children with a DVD while I've eaten chocolate in the kitchen just because I didn't want to share. I have also booked a babysitter and text every ten minutes to check everything was okay. That's every ten minutes for three hours.
So often I see friends say "I've had a fantastic time but I've missed my children" or "It was so good to be out and I'd love to do it more often but I do love my children and would never be without them". These quotes? They're mine but they're not unlike so many I've seen and heard. I pulled directly from Facebook after what I like to call 'Mum guilt' sets in. I feel the need to justify my fun.
I love my children. Of course I do, who doesn't? I love being with them, I love teaching them and seeing them learn about the world we live in. I enjoy making homemade meals, walking with them, singing, laughing, playing...but it gets exhausting. There's a point where I need adult conversation, good music and a gin and tonic. There's a point where a quiet hot bath and Vogue is what the doctor ordered. A babysitter is a welcome relief when you need to work somewhere with good wi-fi and strong coffee. A babysitter is a welcome relief when you just need to dance off the dust of the day.
So I propose that we shed off the need to validate our choices. Whether that's working away from home a few days a week, putting our children into childcare for a day during school holidays because we need a break or letting our hair down and allowing ourselves to be more than mothers because we are. We are more than mothers.