I’m probably breaking the mo code--or some bloody thing that I’m not supposed to say--lest we tarnish the veneer that is idyllic, cookie-cutter motherhood and incur the wrath of mummy mafia everywhere. You know who they are. They’re your local Bollinger Bolsheviks, social-media slacktivists, and Champagne socialists. They have secret handshakes and codewords to recognise each other like: #KickAss-Thrifty-Organised-Wholefood-Wellness-Fierce-SAHM-WAHM-Mama and #firstworldproblems. They wash it all down with a big cup of apple-cider sick and paleo protein balls then clean it all up afterwards with nothing but bicarb and vinegar. Pinterest has a lot to bloody answer for.
Don’t get me wrong. There were poignant sunsets, radiant sunrises, and golden beaches, and for a couple of days--until I got bored with them too--I littered my social-media feed with them. Let’s face it, they were just my fleeting moments of sanity in an otherwise gobshite vacation trying to convince myself that I was going to give this a red-hot go and start having a rollicking good time any moment now.
But the reality was, I spent most of it doing the mundane crap I normally do at home, only this time I had a view of the ocean from the kitchen sink. So that makes it just doing shit near the beach. And let me tell you, my friends with no kids are looking pretty smug right about now.
In fact, why not open a resort for families called Shit-on-Sea? Insulate the walls and the floors so no-one can hear anyone else’s kids whining, fighting, and pounding down the halls like a herd of bloody elephants headed to a Madonna ticket-refund booth. Resort management will hold poo-scooping competitions from the poolside for the first-time parents who are still deluded enough to holiday with the under 3s. There’ll be a giant waterslide from every floor leading to the recycling bin. Harried and hungover parents--driven to the ragged fringes of insanity--can ride it like a boss, whooping all the way, empties in hand, depositing spent bottles of Jack Daniels and goon casks into the overflowing bins of broken dreams.
I am exaggerating though, because it wasn’t JUST the shit I normally do at home. It was that PLUS a whole lot more. More yelling that is, because for some reason a vacation makes my kids behave like toddlers whose cheese sandwiches have been cut into squares instead of triangles. Behind closed doors they behaved like regular little turds. In public they were charming angels. How were these children born of me? I wiped more piss off toilet seats, waded into and inflamed more sibling fights, and cried more silent tears over my woeful parenting than ever before.
To add insult to injury, they also decided to wake up at 4:20am E-V-E-R-Y B-L-O-O-D-Y M-O-R-N-I-N-G. As if waking up at 5:30am every day for eight years isn’t enough salt in the wounds. As if constantly wiping the arse of a five-year old with rancid diarrhoea after eating too many palm-oil laden Easter eggs pushed onto him by well-meaning relatives wasn’t enough. As if not being able to sleep in a shitty hotel bed because pregnancy wrecked my back wasn’t e-frigging-nough.
Amongst this chaos and blurred vision caused by lack of sleep, I found the home-shopping channel. The Bowflex Max Trainer, the Magic Cut Knife, the Bambillo Mattress Topper. Hell, I nearly looked interested in the Renovator Paint Runner Pro. This was the stuff of my dreams. My mojo left the building and I was prostrate on the couch, watching bloody home shopping.
And for this whinging, whining, sleepless, joyless holiday, I am grateful. For I have learnt something about myself. I have learnt that I don’t know how to relax. I really don’t know how to just be in the moment and enjoy it. Instead of looking back and kidding myself that the past was really shit hot, and the future would be so much better “if only [insert xyz thing happened]”, I couldn’t even sit there and focus on right here, right now. I am basically a grumpy, uptight cow with a pineapple up her arse.
But then something happened. My sister arrived, and everything changed. My big sister is one of those people who always puts everything right with my world. We are polar opposites sometimes, but I love her more than I could ever express. It really put into practice that old chestnut, “it takes a village to raise a child”, and my sister is that village. My sister has that magic touch that only a special aunty has. When you’re so busy trying to rely only on yourself and keep all the balls in the air, sometimes you forget to reach out to your village.
For all of my whinging, if nothing else, I’m honest. In my candor, I have found immense gratitude that I can return to my humble home, my bed (soon to be comfier with the Bambillo Mattress Topper), and triangle toasties. It’s not that bloody hard to find things to be grateful about in my blissfully boring, over-privileged existence.
It’s given me time to think too, because I’m a problem solver, not just an attention-seeking whinger. When you leave the hospital with baby you should be issued with a pair of safety goggles and a note. The envelope reads: “Not to be opened until your first born starts school.” On the first day of school you fumble around in the bottom of your bag and open the crumpled envelope. The now yellowed note inside reads, “These goggles will keep you safe from the Champagne corks popping across the suburbs at the end of every school holidays.”
To the childless indecisives lurking among us, don’t say you weren’t warned. At the dulcet sounds of those popping corks you will elicit memories of your days as a footloose literary heavyweight, “...never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” My apologies to Hemingway.