“Not long to go now”, the phrase myself and hubby repeated constantly in the weeks leading up to our trip away. An ever-demanding toddler, busy jobs and a general feeling of exhaustion was taking its toll. I would be turning 30 and eager to mark it. Not only would this be a time for us to have a break, but it also might encourage us to speak to each other (rather than slump on the sofa and ignore each other), rekindle the romance (sure I had some lacey underwear in a bag somewhere) and drink too much and be able to cope with a hangover (almost!).
I thought I’d run out the door at 6am, wave goodbye to my mother who would be looking after the toddler and shout “Freedom” as I sprinted off. I’d been waiting for this break for SO long and while I felt excited and relieved about not having to do the usual morning routine (battle with toddler to get dressed, give up on trying to brush her teeth as she’s refused 55 times and then try to conjure up effort to make myself look presentable for work), I had an overriding feeling of sadness. Sad because she was still asleep when we left, and I didn’t get to see her and kiss her goodbye, and sad because what if she asked for me and I wasn’t there. I was suddenly missing the morning routine that I curse most mornings!
Needless to say, the toddler and her Granny had a ball together. I texted daily, three times a day. The response was the same: “we are great, she’s having a ball, she’s such an angel”. I was delighted for my mum. She doesn’t see her as much as she would like so this was quality time for them. But, I couldn’t help but feel sad that my little girl hadn’t yet asked for Mummy. Did she not miss me? Would she be happy be to see me when we got home?
We had an amazing 3 days away. We partied like we were teenagers, we relaxed, we rekindled the romance and we laughed a lot. We also talked about our daughter, every day, numerous times a day. We looked at others with young children and said, “oh she’s like Elodie, how cute”. We couldn’t wait to get away but almost instantly we missed her. Prior to going away, we swore we wouldn’t have any more children; one was enough. But suddenly, we were talking about “The Next One” and reminiscing about when they are tiny babies and how cute they are. What was happening to us?!!!
We arrived home 3 days later and went to collect Elodie from nursery together (a rare event as usually one of us is working late). When got there, it took a few seconds for her to realise it was us. I had expected her to run over to me, screaming with delight. She didn’t. She took her time to let it process that it was Mummy and Maddy. Then, she came over, jumped in my arms and giggled saying “Mummy and Daddy back from holidays”, in that cute voice I had missed.
I carried her all the way home, not wanting to let go and to hear every word she was saying. Usually, I’d battle to get her in the buggy and exclaim that “Mummy is too tired to carry you”. That day was different. We got home and, thinking we’d cuddle and chat, she quickly reminded me that she’s a toddler. Demands, the word “no” constantly and a refusal to have a bath…..oh yeah, now I remembered why I wanted a break! Those mixed feelings of love and tiredness came flooding back!
We had to switch back quickly into parenting mode and deal with a cranky, tantruming toddler. However, recently I’ve thought a lot more about where we are. We work hard, and our daughter is demanding and hard work at times, but every moment with her is precious. She’s grown so much in the days we have been away, and we’ve missed that. While we need breaks away (and there will be more), that time away makes me realise that the hard work is always followed by something amazing: our daughter learning something new, saying new words or sentences, growing and becoming an independent little lady.
I’ll continue to curse the morning routines, I’ll wish I didn’t have to get up at 6am at the weekend, I’ll sit during a tantrum and think “F this” but I’ll also try and remind myself that this is normal. Not every day during parenthood is easy or enjoyable, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Holidays away without children are important. Our relationship is important. But I’m quite looking forward to planning the next holiday away together as a family.
This blog is part of our ‘Holidays With Kids’ series. You can find the other posts here.