The family holiday, we all do it. We NEED to do it! But lets face it, the holiday doesn't start until you get there. With four boys to get 'there', Leigh knows this all too well.
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Cue the early morning wake up call. The frantic last minute dash through the house making sure that the packed bags are indeed still packed, just as you left them the night before. The (trying to be) polite words spoken between husband and wife about the now messy ‘once were packed bags’, The repeat yet not so neatly motion of packing bags AGAIN, locating all of the chargers for Ipads, Ipods, Iphones (I- DON’T CARE… Just lets gooooooooooooo!!!).
Further (ahem…..) friendly banter between tired husband and wife, kids bouncing off the walls, toddler insisting on filling his nappy as we all file out the door (sigh..) and then, once clean, the cheers as we FINALLY step over the threshold of the front door into a new foreign land. That highly sought after yearn for all, even the parents… The Family Holiday.
The drive to the airport is a long one. Almost longer than the plane trip itself. It is a mixture of laughter and tension. Dreaming of the following 10 days with that dash of parenting reality added that although it is a “holiday” that we are embarking on, it will at times seem harder than life itself!
We arrive at the airport… Alive (Hooray!!) A little show of protest ensues as we pull out and dish out bags for our children to carry however, after some stern words, this seems to rectify itself smoothly (threats of going home carry LOTS of weight…). It’s check in time… (DREAD!). The line is a long one. The 3 year old is tired, hangry and being VERY vocal. With a deep breath we join the line. We scoot our bags along the floor at a pace that a snail would snigger at. The toddler makes darn sure that we are the centre of attention AT. ALL. TIMES as he lies across all of our bags. The “mature” couple in front cant help but turn and stare. I know that look. I had that same look about 16 years ago, before I was with child/ren. That is a look of freedom. Of opinion. Of assuming a sense of heirachy and in their case I am lower than the bags we are still scooting. Deep Breath… again. At least we are moving. It helps to always try to look at the positives… “I’m Hungry” they are all starting to gang up on me. The husband is staring off into some vast distant land. Perhaps it ‘Pre-kids’, at a time when he simply moseyed his way through the airport, backpack hanging off one arm, surfboard off the other, not a care in the world… “TIM!”… My shreak brings him totally back. “Please get them something to eat while I wait!” “OK” he appropriately answers. (Good Man)…
Ahhhhh, we reach check in. FINALLY. The attendant insists that we trial the new service where we enter our details into the automated system and do it ourselves. Apparently much easier… APPARENTLY! So, we do. We like to abide. Then… Commotion. Coming from a little distance away. Gasps. Yelling. “Get Him” they are yelling… “GET HIIIIIIIIM!!!” I poke my nose up, sniffing out the goss. ‘What’s going on’ I question. “Mum, Ollie is on the luggage conveyor belt, he’s gone” one of my darling children says of their brother. “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat”?... “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!!!!!” …. “Press the emergency STOP button” a crewman yells. ‘BEEEEEEP’, ‘BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP’, BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP’. Like lightening, I duck and weave the trendy, young , free questioning crowd and throw myself onto the conveyor belt, running towards the sound of an extremely excited toddler boy, having a HOOT of a time, perhaps quite literally the best time of his life. I spot him. It’s like ‘Toy Story’, infact, I’m sure that was exactly what he was thinking. I grab his arm like some sort of crazed Ninja and yank him so hard that I am sure, in any ‘normal’ circumstance I would be lectured on my ‘heavy handedness’, and I hold him VERY close. So close. I am shaking. Either from fear, anger or relief. Maybe all three.
We disembark the restricted area.
Me: highly embarrassed.
Him: not so much.
The eyes are all on us. Hip, young eyes. All champing at the bit for their semi-life escapes. All young, fit and so good looking. Then I spot my husband. In a see of confused, young, fit, good looking eyes, I spot his. They stand out, They are red. Most likely from fear, anger and relief. Much like mine. And tiredness. Extreme tiredness. We connect with our glances. We immediately understand that WE need to look after each other. WE need some TLC as we navigate this roller coaster ride we call parenting. WE need this holiday so much, and perhaps a solo one after this one so that WE can really relax. But first, we need to safely board our plane. It does cross my mind that I would happily just head home as I was not sure that I could take much more (and we hadn’t even officially left yet) but that’s the parenting ride. It is totally out of our control. We are at the mercy of our kids but we just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to enjoy the ride.
We did board the plane and strangely the toddler literally did not move from his seat for the entire 6 hour flight (I just may have put the fear of death in him..) and I actually watched a movie. Life was sure looking up for me. And in conclusion, it was indeed a lovely holiday. There was a broken glass we had to pay for, a near drowning, some threatened vomiting and some coarse language but I’m only human right… It was a holiday afterall… x