Apologies for the pause in transmission; we’ve been away on our summer holidays.
Ah, holidays: a time to relax, recover, enjoy each other’s company, refresh ourselves for the year ahead.
Agh, holidays: most stressful life-event after divorce, losing your job and moving house (joint, of course, with Christmas): travelling with small children – check; travelling with disabled child – check; getting through airport security with 200 ml bottles of milk, buggy, laptop, baby in sling, toilet-training toddler and cuddly monkey – check; flight delays – check; train delays – check; getting lost in industrial estate on outskirts of Pisa – check; spending a week with entire extended family-in-law – check, check, then check just what am I doing here?
Anyway, after frantically packing nappies, wipes, toys, medication, milk, sun cream, muslins, spare pants, more muslins, a few more wipes and even more spare pants into five bags that we can carry between us while still manhandling a buggy and a baby in a sling, we were off.
We tried hard to relax, at least relax the rules: any meal could be replaced by ice cream, any meal could be accompanied by wine, bedtimes late, lie-ins later, creeping into mum and dad’s bed (even) more frequent than usual. Let Granny take the children for a while. Try not to let on that we know Granny let the toddler fall in the swimming pool…
But of course, in a new place, new worries emerge – the baby, for whatever reason (The heat? New surroundings? Breastmilk tasting vaguely of wine…) suffered terribly with increased muscle tone. That is, tensing up like an ironing-board all the time, making it incredibly difficult to feed him, hold him, or fold him in a buggy, and causing him to throw up more of the special new milk than he kept down. On the plus side, if he really was aware enough to notice his change in surroundings and react to it, then he’s taking in more than we realise.
The toddler, shunning all the old favourite toys and new, “keep still on the plane” bribery toys, developed a fierce attachment to a broom and feather-duster lurking in the corner of the apartment (two items I admit to not even owning, let alone using, at home). I wonder if her new-found talent for cleaning (or at least, moving dirt around) can be cultivated once we get back?
And as we started to unwind, new tensions were released. Realising we were arguing again, we took advantage of Granny day-care to have some time just the two of us – a rare treat – to walk and talk and work a few things out. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad we did.
On the penultimate morning I woke before the others and for the first time felt energised enough to get out of bed. The sun was streaming in through the glass door (as I realised when I walked out naked into the hallway). The three people I love more than anything else in the world (four including the cuddly monkey) lay peacefully sleeping in a row. I pottered, did some laundry, laid breakfast and then, realising there were no more jobs to do, actually did relax, for the first time in a long time. Who knows what might have happened if we’d gone away for a fortnight.