It's a weird thing going away without the children. For days I secretly covet the thought of hours alone – time to talk, think and sleep without anybody asking me why the sky is blue or why I have prickly hair on my legs.
I even get excited about the prospect of the drive there so that I can experience the sensation of sitting, staring straight ahead, rather than constantly craning my neck to break up fights or hurl a DS out of the window.
But here's the thing. When it actually happens – when I'm there, wherever it is, on my own without the four children – it feels an utterly natural state to be. Far more so than the often terrifying territory of motherhood, where I regularly feel lost and in need of a decent guidebook.
It's hardly surprising really. The bit before becoming a mum was 27 years. It's the recent childbearing part of my life that has been a bit of a shock to the system. And one I appear to be still recovering from. When they're not there, awful as it sounds, I fall rudely back into that selfishly myopic existence without so much as a backward glance.
No matter how much I've looked forward to the lie-in, the quiet cup of coffee, the reading of a book, when it actually happens it's always a bit of a let down because, quite simply, it still feels entirely normal.
Then before I know it I'm back at the front door being accosted and smothered in kisses. Sometimes it's difficult to remember how life felt before the children were born. Being reminded is good. But nothing is as good as coming home.
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