Change as good as a rest?

It takes a week to pack. The holiday lasts a week. It takes a week to unpack, wash, dry, iron and put away all the junk. The ratios just don’t add up…

Luckily we have a spare room. It’s called “Nanna’s room” but she is banished from visiting prior to a holiday as her room is transferred to the ‘packing chamber’. I used to work for UNICEF – travelled to war-torn countries and packed the night before. It was easy. Iraq? Long sleeves and flip flops. Sierra Leone? Short sleeves and sports bra (very bumpy roads). In my previous life I travelled the world for two years with one rucksack slung over my back. It held all the knickers I needed and one saggy bra kept all my bits in check for all 674 days. Now? A week’s holiday on the west coast of Ireland requires military precision and 104 lists.

Not exactly war torn but it certainly has its fair share of bumpy roads, and with the arctic / tropical summers we have, it’s like packing for two different holidays. Oh, and throw in two kids and a busy husband and I need a logistical plan of epic proportions to remember everything – washing and ironing has to be planned days in advance, medical kit, clips, books, toys, buckets and spades, swimming gear (hot and cold weather dependent), potty, toilet seat, pink toilet paper, nappies, pack lunch for the journey, favourite snacks, favourite spoons, favourite dishes etc etc etc. One saggy bra no longer fits the bill I’m afraid – two kids later I need a structural engineering masterpiece.

And two things happen.

Ten minutes into the journey my husband asks if I packed the kid’s DVD. I deflate in frustration. The one thing I forget out of the 4729 things I remembered and it’s the first thing that’s required.

And every holiday I pack my ‘me bag’. Stuffed with my writing magazines, my books, my writing notebooks that in a moment of mammary maladjustment I think I’ll get the time to enjoy, the bag remains forlornly and depressingly untouched, like the beach bag on a two week holiday of rain.

But then two other things happen.

I fall in love with my family all over again as we play together for endless sun drenched / rain drenched days, and I rejuvenate enough to know that this exhausting time of young babies is time finite. I’ll keep packing my ‘me bag’ and one day, on one holiday I’ll open it. That’ll be the day my kids can entertain themselves – and a little part of me will rejoice and a little part of me will weep.

(c) AKG 2008

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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