Saturday, 11 April 2009

Dress Rehearsal

Last weekend I did something I haven't done for a very long time. (No, Mum, it wasn't 'the ironing'. And no sniggering at the back there, either!) I went away for the weekend to
Sydney . . . without the children.

For five years I had not even contemplated leaving them . . . okay, that's a lie, I had contemplated running to the hills an awful lot, but they were local hills and I only intended to stay long enough to regain my sanity (I said no sniggering at the back!).

But there were two compelling reasons to go; one being that my parents had made the huge journey from the UK to visit us, and were heading home via Sydney; the other was that the weekend would be a dress rehearsal for a much bigger, scarier trip.*

Telling my five year old went as planned:
"Nooooooo! Mummy you can't gooooooo!"
"But I will bring gifts."
"I don't care, I want you heeeeeere."
"Big gifts."
"Okay, have fun!"
I tried to explain it to my two year old, but he just kept repeating everything I said and blowing raspberries. We set off very early in the morning, which had its benefits - well, one benefit, which is that I am incapable of any emotion other than severe grumpiness before 9am, so there were no tears.

The loneliness of a hotel room for one was odd at first, but pretty soon I was living it up rock star style - yep, I raided the mini bar, and soon had my feet up, a Pepsi Max and some roasted peanuts at my side, and a copy of a friend's excellent new YA novel in my lap. (I meant retired, recovering alcoholic rock star addicted to legumes, obviously.)

My folks and I hit the streets of Sydney, posed in front of the Opera House, took a ferry to Manly, and marvelled at the flying foxes in the Botanical Gardens (a particularly entertaining moment, as my mum - having travelled halfway round the world and taken about 800 snaps - had at this moment discovered that her camera had 'zoom' . . . She zoomed quite a lot that day.)

When I called home to check how the children were coping without me, they screamed and cried and begged me to return . . . okay, they did not - they spared me five seconds before tearing off to continue the fun they were having without me, but I'm sure that deep down they were very distressed . . . way, way deep down. It was an epiphany - all of a sudden the possibilities rushed at me. Writing retreats! Weekends with girlfriends! But most importantly, the thought of that big scary trip no longer makes me well up or tear out my hair with guilt. I can go. I mean, I can let myself go, (and not just with the roasted peanuts).

*which I'll tell you about in the next few days or this blog post will enter records for length/sobbing/wailing/moaning.

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