On Sunday I am going away. I am going skiing with a group of girlfriends. It is a repeat of a highly successful trip last year. The chalet is gorgeous and right on the slopes. The hospitality is fabulous and the company lovely. There are spectacular views in every direction and I’m hoping to get some paragliding done as the icing on the cake.
Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? And I’m so ready for a break. One of the downsides of being a stay at home mum is that every day is the same. Be it Wednesday or Sunday the house still needs sorting, the food preparing, the children caring for. There is never a day off. So having the opportunity to go away and recharge my batteries is such a luxury.
But it comes at a price. As any mother will know, I can’t just pack and leave.There are mountains to be climbed before I get to ski down some. Firstly I have to sort the childcare, calling in favours wherever I can. Covering four children and their plethora of activities is no mean feat and no small ask. I have to work out who needs to be where when and how they will be transported. I need to sign off every part of their lives in my head so that I know that it is all arranged and will run smoothly.
Then there is the food. Meals planned, bought for and where possible cooked and frozen is the order of the day. My husband has to work all day and then come back and do my bit on top so I need to make it as uncomplicated as possible. And it’s Shrove Tuesday whilst I’m away so there must be eggs and lemons in the house!
And then there’s my course. Next week’s work needs to be completed so that I can relax when I finally get there and not fall behind.
But these are just the practicalities, the matters that need to be sorted so that I can leave. Harder to deal with is my head and the wide range of emotional hurdles that I have to negotiate every time I leave town. Guilt comes first. I am getting a break. It means that everyone else has to run even faster to cover what I do. No one else gets to swan off for four days – just me. That makes me feel bad and is almost enough to stop me arranging trips in the first place.
Then, in a couple of days I will decide that I don’t want to go after all. I will start to fret about the children and how they will cope without me to do their thinking for them, read their stories, check their spellings and generally be mother? In reality, I suspect that they will barely notice that I’m gone. They are generally either at school, out or asleep but I firmly believe that my place is to be here when they return. And I won’t be. That’s hard for me to reconcile with my need to be without them for a bit.
Next comes the fear of disaster. What if the plane goes down over the Alps? What if I break my leg and need an army of people helping me out when I get home? What if I get caught in an avalanche?!
Sometimes I wonder if it’s really worth going away at all? It is all so difficult to achieve and isn’t the benefit outweighed by the stress leading up to it? At this point in the week, then quite possibly.
But on Sunday morning, when I walk into that airport knowing that I can now no longer do anything about anything, it will all miraculously float out of my head. I know that I will stop thinking about everyone else for a few precious days and concentrate on me instead. And when I come home, I will be ready to leap back onto the roller coaster of family life and take that ride at breakneck speed until I get the chance to go away again. And when I think about that, I know that all the heartache will be worth it in the end.
Roll on Sunday.