I do this thing when I imagine certain moments and then visualise how exactly I want them to play out. Expectations. Hopes. Daydreams. Recently, in the weeks leading up to a family holiday I had this image of the whole week away, a perfect time, joyful and relaxing. Walks on the beach, Charlie splashing in the waves, sand castles and sunsets, champagne, resting, eating – you get the idea. It was a romantic notion and a ridiculous fantasy. Ridiculous also because it still surprises me when what I imagine and what happens are at complete odds with each other.
I’ve always been an optimist.
We’ve just returned from our holiday and here is how it went down:
- Arrive at airport and we are on time. Feeling smug and competent for being so organised. Think to myself that travelling with a toddler can’t be too hard, you just have to have your shit together.
- Successful check in, though notice toddler’s new pants now covered in grease after climbing on top of baggage carousel at bag drop off.
- Long line at Customs and toddler is starting to get impatient. Dispatch first round of snacks.
- Incredulous that despite a gazillion travellers, security officer chooses to pull over the family with the antsy toddler (us) to do random search. Silently curse husband for having tattoos.
- Custom delay means “go to gate” equals “crazy, stupid race to gate.” Toddler crying.
- Boards plane and ask when drinks service begins. Apparently Flight Attendant thinks I am joking.
- Sit on tarmac for 20 minutes because of air traffic. Dispatch more snacks and question if air traffic is even a thing?
- 20 minutes later, still on tarmac. Dispatch more snacks. Cue panic attack because I’m running out of snacks and we haven’t taken off.
- Wine is served. Lovely holiday feels.
- We land. Toddler reprimanded by border control/quarantine man for offering sultanas to the sniffer dog.
- Later that night. Toddler refuses bedtime. Doesn’t like room, bed, pillow and demands his Bruder Fire Truck that we were so inconsiderate to leave behind.
- Sunshine and coffee. Instagram that we are having a lovely time. #familylove
- Find a Pirate themed restaurant and the kids menu includes plain pasta with cheese. Liken this to winning a beach house. Husband accuses me of flirting with pirate/restaurant owner which is partly true but only because he has the foresight to have pasta and cheese on menu.
- Spend subsequent nights at dinners at restaurants chosen specifically because of kids menu. Toddler spends most of the time watching Shaun the Sheep under the table.
- Have anniversary dinner at fancy restaurant only to discover they don’t have WIFI. $150 dinner lasted 20 minutes. Happy bloody anniversary.
- Ice-creams at the beach and realise I have the perfect family.
- Go bush walking. Toddler likes bush but not the walking. Husband puts back out carrying toddler.
- Find goat farm. Toddler loves goats and wants to know why he can’t have one.
- Consider leaving toddler with lovely goat farm family.
- Google Fiji holiday information. Because nannies.
- Six days later we are home. Toddler cries because he wants to go back to his holiday house.
And yet here it is. We would do it all again. You see, despite the madness and the relentless, exhausting act of entertaining a toddler what we had, what we needed the most, was time. Time is prized and treasured and rare. Dr Seuss was right when he said that you only know the value of the moment until it becomes a memory.
Even as I think back to the fiasco that was our anniversary dinner, I will take the good with the imperfect because the imperfect is unimportant and the important stuff, the stuff I want and yearn for is time and memories and that is what we got.
Until next time.