This photo tells a very different story from our reality. That is attempting to raise three respectable boys, nurturing a home and careers, while trying not to nitpick over dirty socks abandoned by the laundry bin and squished biscuits in car seats.
No this image shows a young(ish!) couple in the South of France enjoying each other’s company without a small person hanging off a limb or requesting a bum wipe. These moments are rare let me tell you. But because of this they are all the more special. Definitely deserving of a Ten.
Back when we had just one child I would fret about leaving him overnight. What would happen if he woke up and needed his mummy? Or got sick? But with three under our belt if someone naively utters the words ‘I’ll have the kids’ I’m sprinting barefoot down the street, clothes trailing from my suitcase, taking out anyone in my path. Because as it turns out they are little treasures when we are not there. Quelle surprise they can sleep through the night and get dressed without assistance. Funny that.
So the guilt has evaporated as I’ve convinced myself it’s beneficial for both parties. For us it’s important to remember where this crazy life all began. Two people hanging out, quietly comfortable. To remind ourselves that we can just be. Sat in the bustling heart of a Provençal village sipping cafe au laits, one watching the world float by, the other reading the book they’ve been meaning to finish for months. In the whirlwind that is parenthood it is very easy to forget. It’s a riot for the kids too, to have a sugar fuelled weekend with the grandparents.
Inevitably we talked about the kids. But it was about observations that made us smile rather than the everyday niggles and moans. Then we were quickly swept back up into an alien world of poolside champagne with house music oomphing out. We gorged on tartares and steaks then danced and laughed with old friends at a stunning chateau. But before we could say this is rather fun we were back on the plane, bleary-eyed from all the wine sampling. Refreshed, not so much, but content.
With the 40th birthdays creeping up on us I’m holding out for some more precious couple jaunts. Ibiza or Bognor, who cares. It’s about stepping away from our Groundhog Day existence of nappies and Netflix. Reminsincing over a tipple or two, dreaming up plans we’ll never do and feeling like our old selves. Oh and actually missing the pickles, instead of hiding from them in the loo.
The joyous reunion with our brood was short-lived as we all quickly resumed our individual roles. Though I did find myself having more patience to deal with the hourly demands for mountains of sliced bread, with chocolate spread like grandma does it! Hmm.
Family life is a hectic but exilerating adventure. One we wouldn’t change. Sometimes though it’s good to slow down, pare things back and take some time away.
Just you and me.