No Place Like Home

10 Jun

The sweetest homecoming kiss

Life can be a bit crazy when you have kids. Good crazy, of course, but full-on none the less. When you say it quickly, it sounds easy, but we know just how much is involved in doing the school-run, washing, tidying, refereeing, cooking, toilet-training, blah, blah, blah.  At times I wish I could just run away and be me again. To get away from the repetition, never-endingness and the mess of family life. And once a year, I manage to.

When I tell people I’m going away for a girly weekend sans kids, the mothers I know just close their eyes lustfully, wishing they could escape too. The dads I know tend to sympathise with my husband, wishing him all the best and telling him of a really good local fish and chip shop. Some older mums, whose kids are grown up, reproachfully tell me that they never had weekends away from their children when they were younger, and I start to feel that perhaps I shouldn’t leave my brood either. My guilt-ridden second thoughts are banished by encouragement from my hubby and his adage “A happy wife means a happy life”.

So I go. Not simply, because there are three children and a husband to accommodate. Bags must be packed, child-care arranged, meals organised and school uniforms washed in readiness for my 48 hour leave of absence. But in the end, I get on the train, and read a magazine uninterrupted for the two hour trip to Sydney. Let’s face it, the relaxation has already begun.

I’m met by my long time friend from school days, who is carrying only a gorgeous, minuscule handbag, unfettered as she is by the need to transport vast quantities of baby wipes, Matchbox cars and spare hairclips. We jump in a taxi and go to her tiny new apartment.

As if I need reminding that we are in a child-free zone, I notice that the carpet is white, there is medication lying on the coffee table and no colourful plastic anywhere. We take champagne and cheese onto the balcony and sup to our hearts content. We catch up on month’s worth of news, hers of exciting job offers and new houses, and mine of the kids starting back at school and our family holiday.

Our weekend consisted of a work wrap party with free alcohol in Wooloomooloo, coffee and breakfast out, shopping, lunch, coffee, more shopping, Japanese for dinner, more wine, a DVD. Do people really live like this? By now I was starting to feel like an imposter, but going with the flow, we shopped some more, drank more coffee and browsed leisurely in posh shoe shops.

With my senses slightly anesthetized by all the shopping, I noticed that I was in Pumpkin Patch, looking for a rashie for my daughter, and wondering if that hat would fit my youngest son. I had been testing fragrances to find one for my man, and already had a book in my bag for my new big school boy. A little boy ran along the path calling “Mummy?” and I turned around, despite the fact my children were a hundred km’s away.

I noticed all the newly toddling babies walking with their parents, and each child’s gorgeous fresh skin and shining eyes. The reason I was away from my family was to have a break, a rest from the constancy of being a parent. Instead, I find that wherever I go, the parent part of me comes along for the ride. I may not have a tribe of kids trailing behind me, but my mother-heart is the one that keeps me alive and is an integral part of who I am. Yes, there is still that part of me that is a separate individual identity and exists mainly at the back of my mind for the time being, perhaps to be pulled out and aired occasionally, for use at a later stage. I have various identities other than being mother and wife, but this is a role I have chosen and longed for. I am privileged to be known as Mum. I want to be fully present and immersed in it, and I don’t want to miss a thing, because I have wanted this since I was a little girl.

So a day later, I step off the train, and my children run up to me and throw their arms around me, as if I’ve been gone for months. Their welcome is authentic, funny and gushing and loud. They’ve planned a special dinner with Daddy, and have all sorts of news and things to show me. Their effusive warmth is so genuine and heartfelt that it brings me to tears. I clasp them all tight and thank God for the love, affection and genuine tenderness we share as a family. It’s great to have a break and get away now and then. I always come home with a much clearer perspective.  There really is no place like home.

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2 Responses to “No Place Like Home”

  1. SistaInArms June 11, 2010 at 5:43 am #

    There is something special about a Mothers Heart….and refuelling is a necessity. Lxx
    Ps…I’m pretty sure you manage 2 girly breaks a year !! 🙂

  2. Fiona McKay June 12, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    I love your writing, Jodie. I always find myself lost in your world. I can definitely say ditto to these feelings – I love getting away from the family, but still can’t drag the family out of me. I always find my thoughts drifting back to them – and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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