Recently, we went on holiday. Not just any holiday mind you. This was a 7-day, kid-free, naughty, indulgent, sanity and marriage-saving bonanza.
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It had been three years since my husband and I had spent more than one night alone. Towards the end of this tenure as prisoners in our home, life was becoming suffocating and drawn out. The inevitable dreariness of routine wearing us thin with its sameness. When you have children, the spontaneity of life is extinguished, like pissing on a fire.
Some people conquer this by defying convention and travelling through Africa, newborns and toddlers in tow, risking the elements and sneering at common sense. The thought just about blows my head off with anxiety. So instead we become trapped by our neuroses and we do everything safely and by the book 'cos let's face it; it's easier.
A kid in a good routine & familiar environment functions better. Fuck your needs, they really don't count. You can try to convince me that you put yourself and your husband first, because "that's what we agreed before we had kids"; but don’t worry- we all tell ourselves that lie.
I discovered this website where parents can post anonymous confessions about their lives. Nifty idea if it weren't so depressing. I challenge anyone not to feel suicidal by Page 10.
Facades are dangerous and insidious, but I suppose we all subscribe to our own bullshit as a survival tactic. But at some point you have to say no, I need a break or, I need out of this relationship or, I need help.
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A break can fix it
Cue our holiday. One week at a 5-star resort in Mpumalanga - self-imposed kid ban. Once we became ensconced in our pad, complete with fireplace and cosy blankets, we sank into genteel oblivion where every minute ticked by in a lazy, sleepy, unhurried way.
To the childless person that may sound like ‘meh- so what?’ To us hopelessly strung out parents; it was 'awesome' on steroids. Each morning when we woke at whatever time, spent an hour in the bath, read a whole magazine uninterrupted, ate a meal without telling someone to sit still and stop standing on the chair, was a kind of rebirth.
Every night we drank red wine and talked as if we'd just met, solving problems, planning the future, having whole conversations without being distracted by the verbal diarrhoea of an energetic toddler.
We were like two stray magnets finally reunited, sighing with relief that we hadn’t lost each other; we were just stressed and broken and tired. Nuclear fallout couldn't have killed our buzz.
I came to the conclusion that this should be a pre-requisite for every parent. No, a law! Like having your car licensed or a passport renewed. 'Have we had our annual No Brats Break?
Well look at that, no we haven't, best we do before the Marriage Protection Police come looking to knock us over the head with a frying pan'. And no, there are no real excuses (we had to drive 6 hours to deposit our son with his grandmother; I would've driven 12), and no, we should not feel guilty. I am literally a better mother since I got back.
As parents, we will never come first. But once a year I am willing to look my child in the eye and say, I love you, but it's my turn to be the Most Important Person of the Year.
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