I’m not exactly sure what the term ‘family holiday’ means. Firstly, just placing these words next to each other undoes any true, and positive, meaning of the second.
A family holiday is not, I repeat, not, by any means, a holiday. The only definitions I could find of holiday included words such as ‘festive,’ ‘recreation,’ and ‘leisure.’ In particular, I love this definition: a day (or days) of festivity or recreation when no work is done.
You see, that makes me laugh.
We just returned from a week’s family holiday. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life. By hard I mean, manual labour hard. By hard, I mean stressful, sleep deprived, anger filled. I’m ashamed to say it but it’s true.
C and I worked harder over the last week than we have in a long time. And we had not one but two grandmothers with us who worked just as hard.
Yes, my three boys require four hard-working adults to manage them
But on our fourth day, I was sitting outside our holiday unit (there’s that crazy word again). The three boys had just gone down for their first day sleep of the holiday (which is necessary when you’re waking at 4.30am. And when I say ‘waking’ I mean ready to start the damn day).
I was thinking about how I’d just yelled and then sung 30,000 lullabies and then tiptoed out of their room and downed a glass of water and sat down in one of the sun lounges outside the unit and I thought, the sun is hot and there is a seagull. All by himself. Standing on a jetty which reaches out over a body of water, big and still and framed by a low lying, gentle horizon. And I thought. This is ok. This moment is OK. Many moments have not been ok but this one is. And right now that’s what I have and I will sit with it and hold onto it and sit and hold and sit and hold.
And then I thought of all the other moments of grace that butted up against the hard stuff. I thought of my first sip of coffee, strong and hot so early in the morning. I thought of little boys running away from waves and laughing, the moisterising of my skin after stretches of time in the sun. I thought of hugs from my mother and that second glass of wine each evening easing me out of the day. I thought of the goats cheese C and I enjoyed on our night out and getting to lick everyone’s gelato on our daily trip into town. I thought of my thigh muscles working hard for the first time in a long time and toddlers scooting, entertaining the crowd. I thought of holding my little boy through the waves, his legs wrapped so tight around mine. I thought of the lady who stepped out from her market stall to tell me how beautiful he is. I thought of sunsets, which leave you breathless and sunrises, which remind you that you are part of something much bigger.
I made myself think of all those things as I watched the seagull, standing by himself in the sun by the water which is big and still but urges me to dive in.
How do you survive family holidays?