I'm in London this weekend for my birthday with friends. Alone, and without children. I sort of miss their little faces, but not enough that I want to go home. From past experience, I know that about tomorrow morning I'll start to miss them more, and look forward to going home. Also from past experience, I know that when I do return, I'll have been home for roughly ten minutes and then want to leave again. So clearly the best arrangement would be for my husband to bring them to see me, let me cuddle them for ten minutes, then just as they start getting ultra needy and argumentative (given they haven't seen me in two days, its standard that they'll be vile to each other for at least the first phase) to take them away again. I can't think why he's not more on board with this plan.
In the meantime, here's all the reasons why being away without children is a birthday gift that beats all birthday gifts.
1. You can have lunch whenever you want to have lunch. You know, just because you're hungry, and not because one of your children is about to have an Incredible-Hulk style meltdown and you think you might not make it to your next destination alive.
2. When you have lunch, you don't have to spend half an hour looking in every restaurant window ascertaining whether it's child friendly enough, and whether there are enough children already in there behaving badly enough to drown out the aforementioned meltdown.
3. You don't feel needed, by anyone, at any time.
4. You don't have to have a furious, hissing row with your husband over the fact that he remembered this nice Italian restaurant, perfect for the kids, 'just down here' and you're still dragging a sobbing, insane with hunger four-year-old behind you half an hour and eight streets later.
5. Your handbag has no wipes, no spare children's pants, and no random bits of lego. Hell, just the fact that you have only one bag is a cause for celebration all on its own.
6. You can go in actual shops, and try on actual clothes, and browse in actual bookstores, without having to hand over a rapidly-escalating series of bribes in the form of crisps, smarties, and iPhones. And that's just in the first shop.
7. You can walk straight past parks, playgrounds, and spraying fountains.
8. You can watch parents begging, cajoling, and shouting at their offspring, dragging prams and pushchairs around the underground, and sitting resignedly inside MacDonalds, and feel only a sense of great and profound sympathy.
9. You don't have to go to Hamleys, the Oxford Street Disney Store that your child remembers as the best moment of her life so far, or the Pattern Pod in the Science Museum.
10. And you can do all of this safe in the knowledge that tomorrow, when you get home, your beautiful children with their sweet little faces will welcome you as if your return is the best thing that's happened to them, ever. And that includes Christmas and Disneyland.
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