It's OK to miss your old life sometimes.

It might be a taboo topic in the world of motherhood. It might feel like you shouldn't admit to it because it'd make you a bad mum or it'd seem as though you don't love your child unconditionally. But ...guess what, I'm gonna say it. 

Sometimes, I miss my old life. 

And if you're now sat there gobsmacked, wondering what on earth I might mean by that statement, then please, read on before you judge.

Recently, I had a conversation with an old flame. And by 'old flame' I really mean the person I grew up with. The teenage crush who soon became the biggest chapter in my adolescent years. 

I met him when I was just shy of 16 and we spent four long years in and, at times, out of each others lives but he was a big part of my life throughout those years. We fought, and we had some pretty big fall outs but we consistently found a way back to one another despite the childish bickering and the trials we faced whilst trying to figure out how the hell relationships worked at such a young age. We were clueless and we hadn't yet grasped an understanding of commitment and what it meant to be a couple.
But ,no matter what, he was always there throughout those years and we always remained in contact even when we weren't physically with one another.  You know when people say  "every girl will always have that one guy?"  Well, he was mine.

 We used to talk about the future, we spoke about big plans and settling down and I don't think we ever really considered the fact that one day, we might not be a part of each others lives. We were young, naive and, to be honest,  incredibly immature. We didn't live in the real world and our whole relationship was built on spontaneity and fun; not giving two hoots about responsibility or real life problems, all we ever seemed to do was laugh and banter and plan the next fun adventure! We were usually up to no good and we weren't the most respectable of teens but surely that's what those years are for; pushing boundaries, making memories to look back on and laugh/cringe at, right? We just seemed to bounce off one another. We were like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. 

We were one of those annoying couples who hated each other one minute but couldn't be separated the next. He was probably my first real love, and sometimes I wonder if he was the only person I ever really loved unconditionally, or whether 'love' simply changes with age... Because, despite having felt new and different emotions since, I've never felt the way I felt around him, again. Perhaps our youth was what kept us feeling alive and never bored with one another. No matter how much we fought or how many times we vowed it was over between us and that it was "the last time" there was always another time, and another...and another. 

You see, time is something we had. And we had heaps of it. Working basic jobs, we earned the money we needed to survive and the rest we spent as we pleased. We used every waking minute outside of our working hours to enjoy life to the fullest. Mostly drinking cider in the sunshine with our friends and listening to incredible music. And when winter came? Well, when most couples might've enjoyed cosey nights indoors watching TV, we ventured out at 1am to play in the snow. I suppose that says it all- we were still children in many ways. We were young at heart and we were full of life, we never allowed for a dull moment.

For a number of reasons, and mostly down to our own mistakes and I suppose, taking each other for granted, our relationship did end for the very last time. And that time  really was different, because he moved abroad and life took us very different ways. Distance and time had finally divided us.

So, why am I sat here writing about this guy? It's been almost five years since I last saw him and we've shared only a handful of emails in those five years. As it stands now, I'm a mum and he's a dad.We have both moved on with our lives and in some ways, we've never been further apart. 

But, here's the thing. When we got talking again recently, I started to recognise my old self.

We chatted about things we used to get up to and the hilarious encounters we had in our time together.We laughed about the silly, childish mistakes we both made back then and we reminisced on all of the brilliant memories we have with one another. We spoke about how, in hindsight, we weren't ready to be adults and have a proper relationship at the time. 

And,when we spoke, for a moment I forgot who I am now. 

I forgot the 'mother' title and I was reconnected with the old me; just Charlotte. Not Etienne's mum. The REAL person behind 'Etienne's mum.' Who I am, the humour I enjoy and the pieces of my past which had slipped my memory. Because, guess what? I'm not just a mum. I'm often referred to as 'Etienne's mum' and I'm sure, those of you who have kids will be able to resonate with this. When you become a parent,you do start to live your life through your child. It's not a bad thing, and I certainly wouldn't have it any other way but, sometimes it's nice to remember who I am beyond my parenting style and my status as a single mother. I'm still me, and I can't imagine that anyone would say they wholeheartedly 100% don't miss a single thing about life before having kids.

I got thinking about all of the friendships that have dwindled away as the years have passed me by. It's inevitable that, as we grow up, we lose touch with people. We meet new people, old friends move away or settle down and we gradually lose touch completely. The majority of my friendship groups changed the minute I became a mum because, it's true that we grow into different types of people with totally different lifestyles and priorities and we find that we no longer have much in common with the people we once spent the majority of our time with. When you become an adult, and certainly when you become a parent, life changes so very much and we, as people, change too.  It's not that we lose who we are, more like we discover a new version of ourselves and sometimes the people from our past don't gel with the people we become post-baby. It's not like how it was all those years ago when we could pretty much get along with anyone over an alcoholic beverage and some decent music. I don't think they're lying to us when they say "those are the best years of your life." 

I'll admit that before having spoken to him, I had sort of forgotten a lot of my old identity. So much of my past has been wiped from my memory and in some ways, it's a good thing and it's completely natural but, in other ways, I find it sad. I wish I could've bottled all of those brilliant years up and kept them in my bedside drawer forever. I wish I had a picture for every moment to look back on. But mostly, I wish I'd realised at the time just how much things would change as we all got older and drifted apart. I thought those people would be in my life forever and I never anticipated just how much life would change as we left our adolescent years and became real grown ups!

So, I don't know about you, but I'm very much of the opinion that it's OK to miss who you were before becoming a mother.  It's ok because it doesn't mean you'd change a single thing about becoming a mum or that you don't appreciate the million and one joys your child has brought into your life, but rather- you sometimes miss the young, carefree spirit you once occupied.

 Of course, I wouldn't change Etienne for the absolute world and I would definitely say that since becoming a mum, I'm the most content and settled I've ever been but at times I'm a little nostalgic. And I'm jealous of the old me who had little-to-no responsibility and tonnes of freedom. Because, let's face it- I now have the biggest responsibility I could ever have: raising a miniature human being. And, freedom doesn't come about very often- to be precise: Tuesday and Friday mornings are the only times I get to myself and I'm extremely limited as to how I spend that time. 

Those of you who have only known me since I became a mum, will see the organised, sensible and cautious person that I now am. But, like most of you I'm sure, there was a time when I was none of these things. I was impulsive to the point where, even big decisions, were made purely on three factors: what I wanted, when I wanted it and how I wanted it. And believe me, there was once a time when being awake at 5am meant I'd been up all night socialising with friends and hadn't gone to bed because "sleep was for losers" rather than being awake because my two year old child is demanding cheerios and Cbeebies.

How times change, eh? You don't really see it happening until you're a million miles away from it all and you reflect on what once was. 

 Don't get me wrong, if you offered me my old life on a plate right now, I wouldn't take it.  And I wouldn't change who I am now. I love being a mum and I truly feel that i was always destined to have a child (and ok, I never wished to become a single mum, nor did I see it coming, but...I always knew I wanted to have a child of my own.) My biggest achievement and milestone in my life was becoming Etienne's mum. And it always will be, which is why it's OK to look back on times before he existed, and it's ok to miss them without feeling guilty because, child or no child, we will never get our young years back so of course we will reminisce and of course we will remember those times fondly. I certainly don't regret a thing!

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