I used to dread school holidays. I freely confess this.
I had my children in the mistaken belief that I was an earth mother in the making, simply because I bought myself a Play Doh Barber Shop when I was twenty, and enjoyed playing with it a great deal.
I did not realise that this was because I was merely foolish. I thought it meant I was totally geared up for what being a mum was all about. You know, making elaborate hair styles out of Play Doh, finger painting, potato printing – all that jazz?
My other qualification was that I liked cuddling other people’s babies, and playing with toddlers if one popped up in the vicinity.
Having children of my own, therefore, was a horrific shock to the system.
It turns out that being a mother is a smidge more complicated than that. And if you have a Play Doh barber shop your children never let you play with it in peace, and if you have children like mine, they eat all the Play Doh before you can even get it in the small plastic head, and you end up resenting them furiously and wanting to squash them into the small plastic head. Only you know you can’t, because you’d only feel very bad, and cry afterwards – so instead you find yourself silently weeping tears of rage clutching a pair of pathetically useless plastic scissors while your toddler gaily munches fluorescent yellow modelling clay, pausing only to proffer you a bit in a gesture of sympathy for they know not what.
So that’s motherhood.
It never stops.
And other people look forward to holidays because, you know, they’re fun, and a break from the routine, and you can sleep in and stuff.
And as a stay at home mum with small children you look at the holidays as more of the same relentless round of stuff you do every day, but with shitloads of other people getting in your way, nowhere to park at the Wacky Warehouse you didn’t want to go to anyway, and the usual routines that sometimes give you half an hour off, if the wind is in the right direction suddenly denied to you because every bugger else is off having a holiday.
And then you get really, really depressed and start plucking your own feathers out, and kicking all the millet out of the bottom of your cage.
Well, you do if you’re me.
I found holidays to be roughly akin to the fourteenth circle of hell. I sympathised with Sisyphus, endlessly rolling his boulder up the hill, only to watch with aching arms as it rolled down the hill again, and trudging off to do it again.
Only in my life there was less Dante, and more Mr. Tumble.
Which is bad.
I remember these days vividly as some of the bleakest of my child rearing existence, and as a failed earth mother, there have been some bleak moments. More scorched earth if truth be told.
It is why I am so delighted now, now that my children are older, and more self sufficient, and I can reclaim some real holiday time again.
I say to every mother out there who feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there. The day will come when you can sleep in, safe in the knowledge that the children can turn on the television and make themselves breakfast without electrocuting themselves, phoning Australia, or smearing themselves in cat pooh. The day will come when your children do not need you to pretend to be a velociraptor for fourteen hours a day, or call them Marlon, even though their name is Steve, or feign interest in oil rigs, or Massey Ferguson tractor parts. The day will come when they will make you a cup of tea instead of demanding apple juice and then crying because they didn’t want THAT apple juice, even though it is the same apple juice they have been drinking for the past four years on a daily basis.
You think it won’t happen – but it will.
Stay strong, sisters (and brothers). Stay strong.