travel with me from SAHM to working mum….
After a family holiday abroad and the return to work of Redundant Husband, the dust settled into what I thought would be normality. Back to just me and the kids, navigating occasional play-dates, excursions out and craft-y days at home. How naive of me! A nearly teen girl will not want to ‘hang out’ with her brothers if they are (i)very pre-teen or (ii) just out of infancy (in the Near Teen’s opinion). How uncool. How embarrassing. She cannot be seen to actively enjoy a trip to the zoo, a family shopping trip or a visit to the seaside. Everything the younger brothers do will be silly; what they say is irritating; what they wear is uncool, provoking loud criticism which draws more attention than the offending behaviour that it is meant to change.
Although there were many hints of the alteration to our family dynamics in the previous six months, the Gardening Leave, long school hours and the busy-ness of my course concealed the full extent of it. Only when we regained the normality of our previous days did it become so apparent. Tentative and brief trips to the local shops became bolder and more expensive; plans to meet friends were more elaborate, but vague; the difference in siblings’ interests more noticeable. A couple of times I arranged play-dates for two of the children so that I could focus on something that one would particularly enjoy – it was exhausting. Not the swimming, the movie or the shopping, but the driving around to pick up/collect/pick up/collect….. My default holiday strategy of a day out at the beach failed. Three in a uv tent sheltering the wind absorbed in books with one spare part hanging around on the rocks, not a sandcastle or beach game in sight. Of course, it’s lovely to see your children reading, but lovelier to watch them interacting in a game. (How uncool.)(How upsetting.)
The flip side of this divergence of interests was a quieter house. When some one sets themselves the task of reading the entire series of Harry Potter before the school term starts, is able to follow a recipe solo or is just happy playing on his own, there are fewer fights and therefore fewer appeals for parental adjudication. I actually found myself sewing on name tapes IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY! This has never been possible before. To have an hour or so of uninterrupted time with the children in the house is a luxury I haven’t known since I had one sleeping baby. I nearly got round to writing a blog post! A watershed holiday indeed.