A holiday with my mother and my two children always begins the same:
An arrangement to be picked up at a specific early time by mother, say 8am and a short text the night before to double check time and an assurance that the weekend will be an opportunity for me to relax.
The morning comes with several frenzied texts at 6am checking if I am ready and will I be ready early, a warning not to pack too much and a semi veiled threat that money has been paid to get in early so I better be ready on time. You can practically feel the sense of relaxation wash over me as I battle with a baby and a zealous toddler into outfits and scramble 75% of everything I own towards the door trying to text back with my free hand.
Then mother will arrive and announce there is no room in the car for anything else and that we can’t take the baby’s walker or seat or jumparoo and we will be ‘perfectly fine without them’ as the holiday house will be ‘perfectly safe for a baby’. Then she will reiterate several times how she can’t understand how we need so much to go away for three days. Little does she know the only things I have packed for myself are under eye concealer, codine, baby wipes, a swimming costume and a bottle opener.
Then we are in the metal prison – the car – where I know I will be trapped for the next two to three hours with a baby, a toddler, mother and a sat-nav so ancient and badly made that the journey usually gives me an overwhelming urge to open my door on the motorway and roll out.
We must rush rush rush to get there because we must get our money’s worth – we MUST enjoy ourselves and we MUST get there asap so the ‘relaxation’ can commence. We MUST have fun and we MUST relax – but not a second earlier than the moment we pass the holiday site sign.
So we career down the motorway, mother making rude hand gestures at fellow drivers, the baby screaming, the toddler whining about weetos, the sat nav shouting at us, having some sort of break down because she thinks there’s a roundabout where there is no roundabout. Her angry robotic voice ordering “Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating, recalculating” like a premenstrual dalek.
Then mother will declare that she has put the paperwork for the holiday ‘somewhere’ and continually comment on the weather – glancing at the blue sky, swerving around Eddie Stobarts saying “we better get there in time to ‘enjoy’ this weather!”
The baby is miserable, the toddler is now screaming that he can’t find his Triceratops and mother is cursing that she paid a fortune to get in early as the dark clouds come over the horizon, the sat nav wants us to recalculate and my blood pressure sky rockets into orbit.
I want to google “restaurants on site opening times and wine lists” but there’s no reception in the middle of nowhere. Mother thinks we might have put the wrong postcode in but she doesn’t recall which bag the paperwork is in. It starts spitting. I realise I haven’t brought a coat or any underwear.
If we were at home we could be sat in our pyjamas watching Mr Tumble. Why do we do this to ourselves? There is no such thing as a free lunch and there is certainly no such thing as a holiday with small children. Don’t bother.