Relaxing holiday? No such thing for mums
MY son finished playschool last week and I'm beginning to panic. Now what? I mean, what on earth are the two of us going to do for the next three months?
I had envisaged happy months playing in the garden with our new paddling pool and slide but, alas, I think we may have already had our summer a fortnight ago.
Three is a tricky age. At that age they're too young to go to summer camp and too old to have afternoon naps. Gary likes to ask me the same question 30 times a day. Sometimes I just wish I could find the 'off' button and get some peace.
I was so spoiled before I became a mother, taking off to the sunshine for three weeks to write books at leisure. Now, I seem to always be snatching moments here and there and breathing sighs of relief whenever anyone takes him off my hands for an hour or two.
I used to think being a stay-at-home mum was a great idea. I could work and mind Gary and teach him to sing and learn the alphabet between chapters. But now I realise that the two don't mix.
How can I write a love scene when he is asking me for the potty? How can I develop characters when my son is yelling at me to blow his nose? I can no longer write books. At least not for the summer anyway.
After Gary finished school last week I took him to a local restaurant for a treat. The waiter came around with water. He poured Gary a glass and then went to pour me a glass.
"My mummy drinks wine," my son told the waiter earnestly. "And champagne."
"Would you like the wine list?" the waiter asked me politely.
"Eh, no thanks." Oh God! It was only midday. I can't drink at midday!
I think I need to become a play date mum. A play date mum is somebody who dedicates her time to organising her child's social life. Dates are organised well in advance and it means that mums sometimes have afternoons off, happy in the knowledge that other parents will have to answer the same 30 questions an hour from their own beloved child.
I miss the freedom of being childless sometimes. I miss holidays where I can go swimming on my own. Holidays with toddlers mean that you cannot take your eye off them for a single second. No chance of reading a book or falling asleep in the sunshine.
Gary and myself are heading for Mallorca tomorrow. We are staying at a hotel with non-stop entertainment for kids. It is my idea of torture and I'm already dreading it. I took him to one of those hotels a year-and-a-half ago where some annoying teenager in a brightly-coloured T-shirt would come around every five minutes ringing a bell and informing us of the next set of group games. I would much prefer to head off to a quaint little rural fishing village somewhere far away.
But when you're a mum there's no such thing as a quiet holiday anymore.
So we're off to the hotel from hell. Gary will love it, but I'm already counting the days to my return flight.