I had just returned from a ‘holiday’ in Queensland, the first since our toddler twins were born. A week later and substantially poorer we returned home, exhausted. The boys’ whinging was unrelenting – they had decided not only to relinquish their midday nap, but sleep altogether and the longer they were up switching on the fan at 2.00am, the higher and louder the whinge. I felt defeated. Defeated as a multiple mum, defeated as a parent, defeated as a happy-go-lucky-holiday relaxer, just plain defeated.
Two days after we returned, a friend posted photos of her own family on a gap year in Germany. There they were, all blond-haired and summer-skinned, posing in front of medieval castles, knocking-back bratwurst while kicking back in their mini-birkenstocks. And always smiling. Always.
‘Do your children ever whine?’ I asked, expecting her to say Oh no, when they’re not singing the Hills are Alive in three-part-harmony, they just frolic merrily in the Edelweiss.
But instead she wrote Oh yes. And fight non-stop. Only now they do it in front of exquisite backdrops.
Two things have struck me about this exchange.
Firstly, that, on balance, I will never holiday with my family again. We work hard, we’re entitled to an annual sleep-in, the kids are happier at home – and sleep – it’s a no brainer.
Secondly, that in this electronic age, it is not only faces that need to be photogenic, but lives. Social networking means we are in a perpetual state of editing of our lives and the way we live them, for the most part sub- consciously. I reflected on potty-training, a horrifying task we are undertaking with the boys at the moment. This, however, is the photo I posted on facebook.