Having kids is wonderful. Having time away from them equally so! Right now, I have just come back from a family vacation and let me tell you, I can do with a break. I am completely drained!
(Before you read this, I must tell you that I am very grateful for the amount of help and support my husband gives me around the house. He is there every single night to help cook dinner, bath kids and help put them to bed. He helps with the weekly grocery shopping and is not afraid of changing dirty diapers.)
Every so often I like to leave the kids with hubby and do something for myself. As I walk back in the house, I wonder whether it was worthwhile. The beds are unmade, no teeth have been brushed, the only reason the wee boy is dressed is because he pooped in his night-diaper, thus forcing a change out of his PJs. The mountain of dishes at least indicates that the dogs and kids have all been fed. There are toys everywhere but in fairness, they are everywhere no matter who is looking after house and children.
I almost feel sorry for him as I announce that he will not be relieved of duty until I have had a shower. But I don’t (feel sorry, that is). Instead I grudgingly think that we both know who will be washing the dishes, making the beds and getting the house back into some semblance of order. Not because of a lack of intention or willingness to help out, but simply due to a lack of speed! Most of the time, I really appreciate all the help. But sometimes, just sometimes, I find it hard to show my gratitude.It’s hard to be thankful for the clean toddler when I walk into the bathroom after said bathing session to find a dark brown ring around the bath, the towels and bath toys arranged in formations that won’t dry until next year and will maximise the growth of mildew. It’s hard to be grateful that hubby took the initiative to clean a dirty bum when I find poop-covered wipes strewn all over the floor, a diaper on the wash basin and the poop-stained pants crumpled on the toilet cistern. Not to mention the dog slinking out of the back door with suspicious-smelling breath and a dirty diaper in his teeth!
Sometimes I manage to bite my tongue and mutter thanks, but other times, I am just too slow, too tired and too exasperated. Sometimes I forget that at some point, we all believe that we are the only responsible adult in the household and the only person who actually does anything.
Going away is another issue. We were recently invited to a wedding. The wedding is slightly too far to drive to and back in one go, so we opt to leave the kids (two- and four-legged) with the Grandies for one night and stay over. The wedding starts at 3pm. We get up at 8am to get ready and the entire day is a rush. Many, many times I wonder whether it’s all worth it. I even mention to my husband that this had better be a wopper of a wedding to make it worth all this effort!
Whether the kids go away for one night or one week, the amount of packing is the same, so I spend most of my morning getting their things ready. Baby has started solids, but is not advanced enough to just eat off the table, so she has to get special food packed.
Being used to breastfeeding, it is staggering how difficult it is for me to work out how much of the frozen stock she will need over the next 24 hours!
So the kids have all been dropped and we are well on our way and may actually enter the church before the bride. Then it hits me: I’ve have left the sterilised breast pump neatly in the microwave! Breastfeeding really is the most comfortable. I can’t imagine having to wash bottles and sterilise and get feeds ready. It sounds awfully tedious! But exclusive breastfeeding does have a down-side; you can’t go very far away from baby for very long! I already own about four breastpumps as this is not the first time this has happened to me. We are too far away to go back, but I can’t not express; even the idea hurts too much!As luck would have it, we are just driving past a big shopping mall. We run into the nearest baby shop and I buy the first, cheapest breast-pump. And we are on our way! We do have a fantastic outing and linger a little longer the next morning to maximise time away from the kids, but eventually we miss them too much and have to go and fetch them!
And then, there is the family vacation. Several times this past month, I have wondered whether going on “vacation” with small children is worth all the effort. The dictionary lists “vacation” and “holiday” as synonyms, and then defines “holiday” as such: “an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling”. A “period of leisure” sounds so lovely! But it is just not the reality when it comes to children!
Besides the mountain of things one has to remember to tag along, the children oscillate between being wildly exuberant and out of control and utterly exhausted, out-of-routine and therefore impossibly cranky. For most of my so-called “holiday” I was sleep-deprived, moody and constantly on the verge of snapping. I really wasn’t all that relaxing.
But was it worth it? Probably. It’s made me appreciate the mundane routine of my “real life” and brought back the sparkle to a tight, but predictable, schedule! And that’s what it’s all about, right?