Expectation Vs Reality
When I think of holidays, I picture glorious days by the pool tanning myself and drinking cocktails; getting ready to go out in the evening by pulling the tags off new clothes (my favourite thing to do) and applying aloe vera to burnt shoulders; finished off with a garlicky meal, bottle of wine and lazy conversation. I’m not delusional, I do realise that I have three kids so I have had to manage these expectations somewhat.
A meal out with the family should be a good indication of how things would go on holiday. Ever the optimist, I recently cajoled my husband into bringing us all to a local all you can eat buffet. He tried reasoning with me, but no, I stood my ground with visions of well-behaved kids and admiring glances from strangers at my impeccable mothering skills floating around in my head. So, with the boys warned to within an inch of their lives, off we went, double buggy in tow. I found the perfect table, right at the back, away from any potential judgers. It went well till the boredom kicked in approximately seven minutes later. The waitress obviously had no kids of her own as she brought three full pint glasses of sprite! I said I may need more napkins and she brought two !?! They started to play chasing… the restaurant filled up and I could feel the tut tuts burning a hole in my back. The waitress then thought it’d be a good idea to bring lollipops while they were eating. My husband paid the bill as I tried to skull the un-drunken wine and we dragged them home by the scruff of their hyperactive necks.
One predominant memory that will probably go down in the family annals is the seven week sabbatical to Turkey we all took when I was on maternity leave with baby number two. I travelled with my Mam, Dad, sister and her two kids. My husband followed three weeks later due to work commitments. My Mam and Dad had a holiday home In Kusadasi bought during those lovely celtic tiger years. I figured it would be idyllic… swimming, sunbathing and possibly a few nights out with old friends (I was a rep in a previous life and lived there for four years). The reality… a breast feeding baby going through a growth spurt and clamped to me continuously and a three year old boy dealing with sensory overload and wanderlust. It was too hot for him but he refused to go in the pool, preferring to run around the slippy edges or randomly hit someone so the pool was not a place to relax. He would go missing on a daily basis. It was 35 degrees plus every day and the house had no air conditioning so closing doors was not an option. I decided to put him in a play school hoping he could pick up some of the language and have fun while giving the rest of the family a bit of respite. It’s just as well I only have a tiny bit of Turkish because every day I’d go to collect him the teachers would try to explain what he’d done that day, making motions slapping themselves etc. I’d just smile and say see you tomorrow. When my poor husband came over and collected Conall, he got an earful from the harangued staff and a child psychologist tried to explain to us that something wasn’t right but everything was getting lost in translation. He finished up in the playschool but I decided to pay for one extra day and dropped by with him by surprise and I heard the teacher say “Conall Allah Halla Halla” The Turkish equivalent to “O crap it’s Conall” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but I left him anyway to my shame.
One evening he locked himself in the upstairs bedroom and the caretaker had to come with a ladder to help him out. In 7 weeks I was probably paler than when I arrived, and I got one night out… well a rushed dinner with a friend. I did manage a couple of Captain Morgans after I got them to bed at night until the Ramadan drummers would walk by the house and frighten the shite out of everyone!
We haven’t had a holiday since, partly due to fear and mostly to economics. Which leads me to now. I am writing this from a mobile home near Carnsore point, Wexford. My mam held onto my eldest, Conall and I have the two and three year old. My Dad came with me as my husband had to work. My cousin Jen, her husband Chris and their two year old, Leia followed. In theory, again, lots of fresh air, beaches, pre-downloaded Peppa. What could go wrong? I left Conall with my Mam because he had a temperature and was complaining of a sore tummy. I knew he’d be in great hands as my Mam does a good Florence Nightingale. We got to the mobile two and a half hours later and the kids started phase one of who can bite the hardest? Rian was particularly cranky and felt a bit hot. A couple of hours later he threw up all over me and the couch. I spent the next 24 hours timing dosages of Calpol/ Nurofen. In the meantime it was pissing rain and the wind was starting to whip up. All our plans of beaches and sightseeing were slipping away.
Day three and there was an exorcist moment as he sprayed me with vomit and his head turned 360 degrees to cover my quilt and pillow, completely bypassing the waterproof sheet he was lying on. I did a temporary baby wipe and febreeze job with the bed and tried to sleep but the wind had reached tornado proportions and would jolt me out awake every ten minutes. If I wasn’t so exhausted I may have had the energy to worry about the safety of a house made of polystyrene in the face of extreme weather. We ventured a meal and spent the time tag teaming each other to stop the little despots slamming each other’s fingers in a door or setting off a fire alarm. My middle son has been in the throes of an Xbox withdrawal. He’s gone cold-turkey and is surviving it by personifying and demonising Wexford. “I hate Wexford, it loves me but I hate it so much”.
Myself and Jen took them for a “nice drive” and they were shouting in unison that they wanted to go home and telling us to STOP if we sang and damn we love to sing! I’ve developed a case of under-my-breath Tourette’s coupled with fatigue, the likes of which I have not experienced before. The cousins hightailed it muttering something about a work emergency. I don’t blame them and as I stood in the plume of dust left by their car I entertained the notion of running after them and hopping in the back. The baby was not getting any better and was like a grumpy little goblin. I drove them to a doctor in Wexford town and he was diagnosed with an ear and chest infection. A trip to the chemist and my “possible meal out” money spent, we headed back to the mobile. I then got a call from my Mam to say Conall was at the doctor and had tonsilitis. At this point I saw my Dad unscrewing the top of the second bottle of Captain Morgans; “Throw some cherry coke in there and I’m with you” I almost shouted. All this time I’m hobbling about, stinking of deep heat due to the crappy bed I was sleeping on.
We’re supposed to be taking a family holiday to Turkey in the Summer and I’m optimistic that it’ll be amazing… think of all those beautiful sunsets, tanned shoulders and leisurely meals. I can’t wait!