We had a lovely time in Devon. Yes we really did. We drove around the bright, beautiful lanes in the kind of sunshine that is usually provided by a Sunday night ITV drama and watched the light sparkle on the sea – apart from one day when the sky became its usual familiar grey.
|North Sands, Salcombe, Devon|
We ate Cornish Pasties and much ice-cream. There was even, I have to confess, the odd constitutional glass of wine at lunchtime.
I’ll share where we stayed courtesy of Toad Hall Cottages in a separate post but suffice it to say that, like many parents, I spent lots of time thinking “I really must spend more time with the kids”. Or, to be more accurate, more ‘quality’ time – a term that makes me wince but is hard to replace with any other cliche.
It’s not that we don’t spend a lot of time together but sometimes when I listen to Caitlin and Ieuan talking I can hear the adults they’re going to be and, weird though this may sound, there are fleeting moments when I don’t recognise them.
How did I miss that? I wonder. Have I been not listening (probably, although being slightly deaf doesn’t help).
Cue the rearing of the ugly head of “mum guilt”. You’ll have your own definition of course but mine is always “not being anything like Mary Poppins” and “being a grumpy mare particularly before 10:30 am”.
It’s that feeling of being unable to give sufficient quantities of anything – love, attention, understanding, wisdom, fun, freshly baked cakes, pocket money (no wait, that’s the kids’ definition)….
Holidays are the kind of times when mothers get to step outside of their mothering role and interact with their kids almost on a peer-to-peer basis but, equally, when you’re out of your usual environment, the torch is shone very brightly on the effectiveness of your mothering skills.
The forms of discipline, for example, that seem to work at home seem completely useless on holiday. Our main resource at present is to threaten removal of pocket money for ever if there is much misbehaving. But then one or other of them will make me laugh and the threat is forgotten.
Besides, holidays are for relaxing boundaries a bit, aren’t they? Late nights, too much sugar, postponing baths and all sorts of indulgence.
Except. Except. As mothers we need to remember it is our holiday too. The Husband is a diamond when it comes to helping out with cooking and tidying but I’ll bet many of us find that our routine is exactly the same no matter where we are – and whether we are on holiday or not.
This may be because we are rubbish at giving ourselves permission to relax.
This may also be because some of us get so wrapped up in the role of ‘mother’ that we forget we can indulge our adult selves a little – take the foot off the gas, chill.
We will not go to hell in a handcart if we loosen up for a bit.
And if we do manage to relax, everyone will have a happier holiday, including us.
My readers remind me regularly that we only have our kids for a short time and every day is precious. So true, so painful, so important to remember.
And, as my own mother has often said to me “nobody likes a martyr”.
If you’re about to go on holiday, do yourself a favour and leave the mum guilt at home.
Trust me, it will still be there when you get back.