There have been a couple of times in the past few months that I have admitted in frustration to Monica and Naomi that “I just don’t want to be a mum today”.
The preparations for the road trip escalated towards the last day and in between attempting to make our house look like a hotel for a stress-free return, packing, haphazardly tossing the contents of the fridge together in a ‘meal’ to use up all the perishables and trying to keep three vocal children satisfied, I had hit my limit. I needed to just be the ‘housekeeper’ and let someone else take over the ever shifting and always demanding role of ‘mum’. Dave all but pushed me out of the house to take a break and have a coffee while letting the pen swirl all the the tumultuous feelings onto the paper of my journal. The momentary pause sure helped, but as the girls reminded me, it is normal to feel this way once in a while.
When Naomi first suggested a girls’ weekend away, I was tentatively excited. Tentatively, because I couldn’t even comprehend a scenario where I could leave all three with Dave for two whole nights. Not because he isn’t capable- in fact often I secretly feel that he is the better of the two of us in terms of his ability to hold his temper, stay calm and use humour to defuse a precarious situation (all the elements that I clearly struggle with!)- but it just seemed like too large a burden to place on his shoulders. I organised to drive down for the Friday night alone.
The night before the trip Dave managed to convince me that the world would not stop turning if I went away for both nights and that he could always call me if things got out of control. So I set off, brimming with excitement and saddled with bottles of wine. After my whinging to Monica and Naomi, it was firmly in the front of my mind that these were the ‘days off’ that I had been pining for, and that I had better make the most of every second.
I hitched a ride with Roanna and we arrived at the house in Cape Woolamai after dark. After scoping out the room situation (and ensuring we didn’t inadvertently settle ourselves in the room where a baby would be sleeping on the second night), we spent the evening talking and laughing and drinking red wine and cider.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, we made our way into Cowes for some mandatory op shopping! Thankfully all the girls were as keen as I was to do a vintage store crawl, exclaiming as we found treasures (mostly, lets be honest, for our children as even on ‘days off’ it is impossible to let go completely!), though I did score an alabaster flowered hat, should I ever get the chance to attend the frivolity and fun of the races in my future life. Our final stop was the Bazaar and Gallery which was stacked to the brim with antique treasures from bygone eras.
I don’t know if it was the enticing aroma of woodfired pizzas wafting through the emporium or the magic of gazing at items made in another time, but I could have easily wandered for five hours in that place. By the time we made it out of the door there was only one word on our lips: ‘Pizza’! We savoured a Sicilian and Pumpkin & Pesto pizza and it was delicious, the perfect end to a morning filled with leisurely browsing, laughing and relaxed fun. So different to the usual experience of shopping with kids in tow!
When we rejoined the rest of the party at the house, we discovered they had happily settled on Temperanillo and washed rind cheese for lunch! Why not!? Being a girls’ weekend, the entire surface of the coffee table was brimming with antipasto, wine, cheeses and healthy home-baked treats. Feeling slightly guilty at our indulgences, we did manage to fit in a brisk walk in the afternoon, where I promptly lost my phone at the local grocery store. All’s well that ends well, however, and a quick dash back to the shop secured the precious item once again.
My overwhelming memory of the time is one of ease and bliss, two words that rarely describe this phase of motherhood that I am consumed by! I treasured the conversations without interruptions, the couch time where nobody was at my elbow needing me to get anything, and the absence of a need to keep an eye on the clock. A big highlight was Naomi and Laura’s transformation of one of the bedrooms into a peaceful Osteopathic treatment zone where the constant pain in my lower back was erased as if by magic and it hasn’t haunted me since. Roanna and Allyssa spoiled us all by catering the evening fare- a Ranchero Sauce with sweet potatoes for main and Sticky Date Pudding with lots of sauce. Jane brought along Settlers of Catan for the post dinner entertainment and I enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the game.
That evening, as we tucked ourselves into bed near midnight, after the last few whispered thoughts had been spoken, the silence was abruptly pierced by a loud scream. The baby (who shall remain nameless, but bears a strong connection to the impending season) decided it wasn’t time for the fun to end yet and continued the ‘party’ until around 3am, perplexed at the considerable efforts of her (amazingly calm!) mother to place her back in her cot or coax her back to sleep. I joined in the fun around 2am with a tiptoed visit and we all shared whispered laughs of resignation knowing that there isn’t much that can be done when a strong-willed child decides they simply don’t want to sleep!
The battle brought back memories of our trip to Wye River where Hudson kept the party going until 4am, thinking it was playtime when we eventually pulled him into our bed in utter exhaustion. I was seven weeks pregnant at the time, constantly spewing and barely making it to 8pm on a good sleep. Fun times. The responsible mother, however, was amazing in her response to an awkward situation, keeping a cool head and not even sending any expletive laden messages to her husband- wow, how does one even do that!? It probably helped having the solidarity of the incredibly patient Aunty, the only other one brave enough to volunteer to sleep in a room with a baby! She generously shouted all the bleary eyed girls a coffee in the morning and the balance was righted once again.
As for Dave, while he admitted to missing me (and my practical efforts in keeping the household running), he did an incredible job soloing the three, taking them to a play center in the morning and then out the Arboretum for a cousin’s second birthday party in the afternoon. He even had to load them into the car, along with all the gear for Open House on the Sunday morning to set up for the gathering and packed a multitude of toys and snacks to keep them entertained. Maybe we should swap roles for a little while! The kids did really well, and that reunion moment, with little hands clasped enthusiastically around my neck welcoming me home, was absolutely priceless. I do love being a mum, though a little break once in a while is extraordinarily good for the soul.