I recently went on a holiday, a five day holiday, without my kids, without my big kid – aka my husband – and without any concern for anything other than myself and enjoying time with my girlfriends. Five days where I didn’t have to think about shitty nappies, who hit who, what to cook for dinner or more so what not to cook for dinner, which shirt I should wear, hey one that doesn’t have dirty handprints on it or mashed up banana glued to it is good enough, who has soccer practise, tennis, basketball, football, work or a project due. I didn’t have to think about washing, hanging, ironing and putting away for 7 people. I didn’t have to vacuum and mop only to have it look like it needed a vacuum and mop moments later. I didn’t have to hear that dreaded question every stay-at-home mum hates … “What’s for dinner?” Or the even more painful “I’m bored.”
It was a holiday that I desperately needed as I face challenges with my teenager as he turns into an arsehole …. ahem sorry of course I really meant to say, as he turns into a real life teenager (or pre-man or better yet a pre-man-pre-man). Challenges that include dealing with a 17 year old girl who is in year 12 and will only settle for A grades – yes it’s admirable but it is also a highly stressful aspiration. Challenges with that prementioned 14 year old boy and his preteen 11 year old brother who looks up to him and his behaviours. Attention for the wild and crazy and all consuming world of a 5 year old and the tantrums and tribulations of a non-speaking 2 year old. Yes the fact he isn’t talking worries me and I’m getting help… Oh hey let’s not forget also the 39 year old male who needs my love and affection too. Sometimes he needs it more than the others all put together. So with testosterone overload a girls getaway was totally called for!
My holiday consisted of all the things a womans holiday should. There was plenty of shopping, walking, eating, wining (as in actually drinking wine not listening to my children whine), seeing talented people in talented shows, watching a live football game – yes I’m interested in football … C’mon there are hot men running around in teeny tight shorts – need I justify this anymore?! And of course the best ingredient of our holiday was the laughter. Real side splitting, chest hurting, stomach-muscle-cramping type of laughing. It was the best medicine for my overwhelmed heart and mind.
On our last day I knew it was all coming to an end. We wandered around for over 2 hours trying to find a place worthy to have our last supper at. We knew it had to be awesome so we could fill up with a happy ending to an awesome holiday and where we finally settled was well worth the calories burnt and the blisters earnt. We spent the evening eating Italian, being served by an Italian stallion and we drank plenty of Italian fluids – white wine, red wine and champagne. We laughed and laughed and laughed. We laughed until we were crying. Until we were unable to even speak. Until we thought everything was really funny and risked being kicked out of a Melbourne restaurant for well laughing too much!
The next morning we came home and my children welcomed me with open arms. Ok *inserting brutal honesty here* my 14 year old grunted at me – there was no open arms but I did get hugs and kisses from everyone else followed by “what did you buy us?”. My husband puffed out his chest when he saw me because he had ‘done it’ – ‘it’ being my role for a whole five days but not with all five kids I need to point that out coz it really isn’t the same BUT I am so thankful he stepped up to be a single Daddy for me so I could go away! Then the morning after my arrival home he left for his working week away and of course my real reality hit. In fact truth be told that reality up and kicked me in the gut, then it quickly filled my head with all the stuff that it had been missing and I cried, a lot. Not because I didn’t want to be there with my family but because what I do day in and day out is hard – don’t judge me! And so the day after the day before the onslaught began – packing for the 14 year olds camp, football games that coincided with a 2 year olds sleep, two big projects due, birthday parties to attend, presents to buy, appointments to get to, school runs, sports practice, lunches, early mornings, fussy eater dinners and oh did I mention washing. Fucking washing – take me to live at a nudist colony please!
When you go on holidays there really should be a law to say you must slowly reintroduce yourself into the ‘normal’ world in which you live. Kind of like weaning. Weaning yourself into your regular old self, with regular old chores and a billion regular things to remember. And while I may sound completely ungrateful for my life I’m not. My children make me and they break me. They teach me patience and how to not completely lose my shit. My role as a stay-at-home mum is completely frustrating, rarely rewarding and certainly never with commendations. But I have an amazing family who I can only hope and pray will grow into happy adults. That my children will know that I loved them and tried my best every day, that I never gave up and I may have struggled but that was only coz I wanted better for them. I hope they will understand and accept my imperfections and my desperate need to escape them for a five day holiday. I hope they know that my ‘reward’ is their future happiness. Their contentment in life will bring me the greatest reward of all.
My vision, a hundred years from now (ok maybe just half of that), has my husband and I sitting on our rocking chairs on our front porch reminiscing and laughing at all the times we nearly killed our offspring – it’s ok I am exaggerating, laugh with me. We will wrinkle up our noses that are already well and truly wrinkled and observe how funny it is to see our little darlings with little darlings of their own #karma.
I can only hope my children will be a better parent and a better person than me. It’s called evolution right? If so, then I know all the sacrifices, all the giving, all the tears and trying will be worth it. Parenting is a tough gig. I don’t know any gig that is harder and it really hits home when they become teens because you know adulthood is only just around the corner and all you have taught them or haven’t taught them is about to show up, for real. So fingers crossed I’ve done ok.
So here’s my mission for you Superwomen…. Find a parent, whether you know them or not, someone who is doing it tough or appears to be struggling right now. The one who smiles and says she’s ok, the one looks overwhelmed, the one whose toddler is screaming on the floor in the supermarket while the mother is copping judgemental stares from fellow shoppers, she has bags under her eyes and the weight of the world on her shoulders. Your mission is to go up to her and tell her she is doing an awesome job. A lady once said that very thing to me as I dealt with a tired, unruly 18 month old who did not want to sit in the trolley, who had snot from left nostril to chin and a blood curdling scream to welcome the Vampires. Those kind words from a stranger gave me the strength, that day, to pull back my shoulders, to keep calm and to not feel like a complete failure. It’s really important to spread the parental pats on the back, to share the enormous weight a parent carries and to let them know they are a great parent and that it’ll all be ok.
You are doing ok xx