The Importance of Being Me

1 Apr

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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”.
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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.
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Are you a “me time” believer? What do you do that’s all about you?

As always linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess

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28 Responses to “The Importance of Being Me”

  1. Robo April 1, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Your journey sounds amazing. There’s nothing like getting to know yourself, once again.
    I haven’t had an experience like that, not fit enough to do The Overland but Man and I did a pre-kids campervan around Tassie.
    If ever there was a place to look for something, Tasmania is the place to find it.
    I love the idea of you sharing it with your boy. I hope to so the same with my kids.

    • daddownunder April 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

      Thanks Robo, yes Tassie is a very special place indeed. I have a secret desire to move over there one day and live life at a slower place in beautiful surroundings. I have a friend who toured around Tassie in a campervan and he made me green with envy talking about all the things he saw.

  2. Vicky Finch (@Vicfinch) April 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    I have been suffering a bad case of irrits lately, primarily because I haven’t had any me time. No time alone with myself. No time where the only noise I can hear is my own breathing, or the ticking of a clock, or the song of a bird.

    I read this with envy. And confirmation that I need to make time for me time. Soon!! Before I implode from hearing the variations of my name uttered from four different sets of lips….

    • daddownunder April 1, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      I think its so important Vicky (and I only have one little one to contend with). An afternoon, a weekend, 30 mins if thats all you can get, just for you, you deserve it. Thanks for commenting

  3. coloursofsunset April 1, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

    Holy Smokes! 6 days treking by yourself!?!? Not sure if you’re brave or insane! 😉 I’m a huge “me time” believer. Walking along the beach, going out with my fancy camera, or just spending Tuesdays blogging and IBOTing is what I usually do with “me” time. I also play tennis, though that is not “just me” obviously or it would be a very short (and difficult) game. Thanks for sharing this. -Aroha (#teamIBOT)

    • daddownunder April 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      It was quite an extreme case of me time. I didn’t include any of the pics or stories of the tiger snakes but I nearly trod on about 20 of them – at that point I would plump for insane over brave. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi

  4. Eleise April 2, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    Wow, that is an impressive trek and a good wack of “me time”! I don’t think I would enjoy days trekking by myself to be honest, I don’t really like snakes either. Great story. PS that is a hot photo!

    • daddownunder April 2, 2013 at 3:52 am #

      Thanks Eleise. Yes the snakes were not really for me either. It was a lot of time to spend on my own but I came back with a lot of clarity. And yes it was a very hot day. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi

  5. Deb @ Home life simplified April 2, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    I worship at the alter of me time! your trek looks amazing – i could not do it myself alone, but i dream of hitting tasmania for a big trail walk. i am hoping to being my mother over from the states one year to watch the kids while the husband and i walk in tassie or new zealand!

    • daddownunder April 2, 2013 at 3:54 am #

      I dont think I thought it was something I could have done on my own but I cajoled myself into saying yes and I’m glad I did. And yes that is definitely what mothers are for. Thanks for the comment and I hope you get your chance soon

  6. Rhianna (@aparentinglife) April 2, 2013 at 3:41 am #

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. I am a huge believer in Me time. Especially in places as beautiful as that.
    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses #teamIBOT

    • daddownunder April 2, 2013 at 3:58 am #

      I love it out there Rhianna, I know its the butt of lots of jokes, but I think they’re all just jealous : ) Thanks for my butterfly kisses and fairy wishes I will use them wisely

  7. Alex aka WHOA MUMMA! April 2, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    How bloody awesome. I am dying to get to Tasmania. I would probably sell one of the kids for the opportunity to have an adventure like that.

    Oh yeah, hawt selfie!

    • daddownunder April 2, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Do it Alex, make sure you get a good price for the kid and do it. I look forward to reading all about it and seeing your selfie. Thanks for dropping in

  8. Emily @ Have a laugh on me April 2, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I would LOVE to do this, growing in up in NZ I had plenty of chances but spend most of my adult years overseas, and then married a Kiwi in Australia and we live here! Once our kids our older I’d LOVE to take them bush. I think you can learn a lot about yourself by being by yourself!

    • daddownunder April 2, 2013 at 10:30 am #

      It’s funny how we always take what’s on our doorstep for granted, its taken moving to oz to recognise some of the things I liked about the uk. Make sure you do it Emily, its something to remember. Thanks for always commenting

  9. Dominique April 2, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Sounds like you’d love NZ if you like Tassie so much. It’d be a good place for you and your son to go too on account of the lack of murderous creatures!

    • daddownunder April 3, 2013 at 2:07 am #

      Yeah I’ve spent lots of time in NZ Dominique and love it, we nearly moved there over oz but as usual work dictated our decision. Where abouts are you?

  10. Eve Adams April 2, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Me time can be dangerous when you indulge in too much, but that’s just been my own selfish experiences! And thanks for the half naked selfie 😉

    • daddownunder April 3, 2013 at 2:09 am #

      I definitely don’t have a chance to have too much me time, I take what I can get! What do you mean half naked selfie, you just can’t see below the waist ; )

  11. Kelly HTandT April 2, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Matt! This past long weekend I found myself child free, so I hung out with friends and indulged in lots of alcohol, bad food and spontaneity. Honestly, I felt like I was 17 again! It was only on reflection that I realised, after 3 kids, I haven’t really ever allowed enough ‘me’ time, because I always felt guilty if I tried. Now I regret it. ‘Me’ time is vital. We shouldn’t lose ourselves.
    Great post, you’ve really hit the mark. x

    • daddownunder April 3, 2013 at 2:11 am #

      Couldn’t agree more Kelly and the best thing is you go away be the person you want to be and then appreciate what you have at home. Win, win, win! Thanks for the kind words

  12. EssentiallyJess April 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Matt so much of this post resonates with me. Being more than a mum was why I changed my blog from Diary of a SAHM to Essentially Jess. It was just more expressive of who I was.
    That walk looks amazing, and I’d love to do it one day, but I might need Boatman to protect me from the snakes. Have you heard of the Larapinta trail in central Australia? That’s another huge hike that would be awesome to do.

    • daddownunder April 3, 2013 at 2:14 am #

      Hey Jess, I was wondering why you changed your name, it makes total sense and its nice to expose a bit more of who you are. I have heard of the Larapinta, a friend of mine actually broke his leg and was helicoptered out, I might take heed of that warning. NZ next I think. Thanks for stopping by

  13. tahlia - the parenting files April 3, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    WOW!!! What an awesome experience! Certainly “me time” in a very dedicated way! I am all for “me time”. I blog about it often. Healthy mind, healthy soul, healthy mum is healthy family, healthy kids, healthy relationship and everything else in between. Don’t think I would do 6 days trekking though…..

    • daddownunder April 3, 2013 at 3:16 am #

      Hey Tahlia, yes 6 days does sound quite extreme but its one of those experiences that will always be with me. Couldn’t agree more about the many benefits of me time. Thanks for the comment

  14. Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions April 11, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    I am a huge believer in ‘me time’, even before I became a Mum. It’s easy to let life get in the way, but every time I get to have a little ‘time out’ for me I feel so much better for it, refreshed and much more appreciative for and better able to serve my family.

    • daddownunder April 11, 2013 at 3:09 am #

      I’m doing it more and more becasue Max has been getting a bit clingy and its good for Mum and son to spend some quality time together. Its win, win, win.

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