Being a stay at home parent and blogging about it can feel a little limiting. To define myself as ‘just’ a parent is not accurate. There was a whole other me before parenthood and there is a whole other me now just waiting to get out. Whilst I want to do my very best for my son I also want and need to maintain some form of whom and what I am. It feels a little indulgent to discuss “me” but I don’t do it often so please humour me.
Just before Max came along me and Mrs Under granted ourselves a final spin of the dice, a last hurrah, an opportunity to indulge in whatever it might be that is dear to us. A little like a last meal on death row only far less bleak. Mrs Under decided to finally take up photography, a large intimidating camera with lots of knobs and buttons was purchased and she enrolled on a course. This was something she had spoke about since we first met and I suspect the opportunity to capture Max growing up in focus may have prompted her decision.
For me the decision was simple. Despite always being a city dweller I am very much more at peace in the great outdoors, a passion fuelled by what seems like a lifetime of long weekend yomps through stunning scenery that always concluded with my feet steaming away by a roaring pub fire. Few places does the outdoors like Tasmania and few hikes are preceded by such a reputation as the Overland Track.
The track is 65km in its shortest form but once you throw in the extra sidetracks would be in excess of 110km and is recommended to be tackled over 6 days. This was to be a solo mission, the ultimate in time and space to think about what was about to happen to me. With Anna 6 months pregnant and convinced that if the snakes didn’t get me then my general incompetence probably would, I said my goodbyes and weighed down with a back breaking 30kg pack (the kitchen sink alone weighed in at 8kg) and an adventurous spirit I set off for some me time.
Sucking up lungful’s of clean mountain air and taking in my surroundings after being unceremoniously dumped at Cradle Mountain I felt instantly vindicated, with a healthy dash of intimidated thrown in for good measure. My pack felt prohibitive so I dumped some of the luxury items that Mrs Under had snuck in, bye bye wonderful dark chocolate and sumptuous Pinot may your new owners love consuming you every bit as much as I would have.
After an hour of hiking in my own company I realised just how isolating the next 6 days were to be, nothing but me, myself and I. I disappeared completely into my inner most thoughts, asking myself what challenges lay ahead, questioning whether I was up to the job and deliberating on what being a Dad meant for me.
Breakfast was always porridge and always welcome, setting me up for an eight hour wander from an awe inspiring A – B. Lunch was always cereal bars, nuts and dried fruit, wholly unsatisfying and inadequate but forgiven for being light and small. The evening meals were a real treat, once the trudging had finished for the day, my feet had enjoyed the revitalising qualities of an icy spring, blisters had been attended to, my pack had been duly dumped and my roving shelter was erected. Packet noodles, curries and rices were all combined to create a sub species of food known as camping fusion, my brain doing a wonderful job at tricking my mouth into thinking it was haute cuisine.
The closer I was to completing the hike the more I allowed myself to fantasise about getting back to Mrs Under and the bump that was soon to redefine me. On the last day a great sense of achievement washed over me, I had done it, I had overcome the elements, the snakes, the aches and pains and the isolation; distracted by the beauty each and every step of the way. I like challenges, I like succeeding against the odds and I like delving into myself, traits that have served me well so far as a father.
Upon completion I decided to put the famous Tasmanian hospitality to the test and hitchhiked the 179km from Lake St Clair to Hobart. I should never have doubted it, the first vehicle to pass was a bus packed full of three generations of smiling faces. Not only did they pick me up but they drove 50km out of their way to get me to my destination. Having not spoken at length to anyone for over 6 days this was a fantastic reintroduction to mankind. Stories were exchanged, songs were sung and hugs were administered upon “goodbye”.
Hobart felt like an intense metropolis. Following my nose I meandered along the harbour and into one of the fish and chip restaurants, washed down with an ice cold beer I think that was one of the best meals I have ever had. This was my first time to Tasmania and it had cast a spell on me, I want to experience more and get to know her nooks and crannies more intimately.
I returned home having achieved something real, knowing myself a little better and feeling a bit more prepared for what fatherhood could throw at me. I will continue to indulge in the occasional act of me time, just to remember who I am and what makes me tick outside of being a parent, which at times can feel all consuming. Max if you do read this consider it an open invitation for us to go and walk that famous track together one day, although you may have to carry my pack.
Are you a “me time” believer? What do you do that’s all about you?
As always linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess