Diary of a (not quite) Single Parent – Week 2

Two days ago the girls and I set off for Melbourne after our weeklong stay with my husband in Sydney. It didn’t take long after our arrival there for me to realize that the vision I’d had of how our trip would play out and the reality of it were two very different things indeed.

My husband and I got off to a bad start when we arrived a week ago and he wasn’t there to pick us up from the airport. This was on the back of a day where I had wrestled my children through crowds at the Tiger Airways check-in queue – the lines for rides at Dreamworld don’t take as long – and tried to keep my four-year-old from becoming a statistic – at one point she thought it would be hilarious to run off and hide in a toilet cubicle for ten minutes while I ran around the airport waiting lounge in a complete panic and shouting my head off like a madwoman. So, when I walked off that plane and found no husband in sight it’s safe to say that I was not a happy wife.

A few tense phone calls and half an hour later my husband turned up with a justifiable excuse, although even his reasons – good as they were – failed to lift me out of the vile mood I had plummeted into the moment I saw that he wasn’t waiting for us with open arms. All was forgiven by the following morning, and brunch with our old Sydney neighbourhood gang managed to soothe me and lift my spirits.

My family and I have had a very special relationship with the Harbour city for over six years now. Back in 2006, Mike, Finn and I relocated to Sydney for work purposes for fourteen months. We knew that we were moving into an inner-city suburb in a big city so we’d resigned ourselves to the fact that living there would be a lonely time without our beloved family and friends around. Imagine our delight when we found ourselves smack bang in the middle of a community of the friendliest and most wonderful bunch of folks anyone could ever meet. They remain close friends to this day and we are always welcomed back like family whenever we return to what feels like our second home.

We didn’t stay in our much loved and familiar hood on this visit. Instead we found ourselves ten minutes away at a friend’s place who graciously offered us his house while he went overseas for work. The “Cloudstreet” house, as we named it, is picturesque, like something out of an Enid Blyton tale, complete with a black cat, Patrick, and a beautiful golden lab, Gracie. It’s a beautiful old weatherboard with the most amazing and eclectic collection of artwork, an open fireplace and a magical garden with fish in the pond and some of the prettiest trees I’ve ever seen.

It also has no heating, no microwave and no television.

I had packed books, notebooks and facemasks for our week in Sydney. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had been incredibly clueless in doing so. My husband was rehearsing six out of the eight days that we were there, which meant that he left the house at 8.20am and returned at 6.30pm, leaving me with the task of entertaining two children, whose friends were all at school, all day in rainy weather and with no ABC3 or Adventure Time to plonk them in front of when Mum needed a break. But it didn’t take long for us to adjust to our new living quarters, or for the Sydney weather to do what it does best and bring the sunshine. As a result we ended up having a great, if bloody exhausting, time. Numerous catch ups, dinners and play dates with the old hood crew – including a huge BBQ in the neighbourhood park complete with a homebuilt fire in a keg barrel – and some much-needed quality family time with Mike at night and on the two Sundays when he wasn’t rehearsing.

It’s always sad to leave Sydney and the people we love there, but saying goodbye to my husband yesterday made it doubly hard, knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing him again for so long.
He had driven our car to Sydney when he left Melbourne a few weeks ago so that we would have a car to use while we were all up there. It was actually my idea to do this and for me to then drive home with the girls at the end of our stay. I’d done the drive on my own with the kids before when Abbie was a baby and Finn was four, and that trip had included stops on the side of the road for breastfeeding so I figured that this time would be a lot easier with an eight-year-old and four-year-old, a case full of DVDs and headphones all round. It would be like “Boys on the Side”, but with no bars, no murder and no Bonnie Raitt.

Our road trip playlist mainly alternated between Ray LaMontagne, Katy Perry and the Tangled soundtrack, but at one point I decided to listen to the Audiobook of Fifty Shades of Grey that I bought a while back and hadn’t been able to bring myself to listen to thus far. I just wanted to know what all the fuss was about! Okay, now, before you start dialing child services, I was listening on my headphones while the girls were watching a movie in the backseat. What kind of parent do you think I am?! Forget the kinky sex…as if I would let my children ever hear such appalling “writing”. If the adverb and “Holy crap” overkill wasn’t bad enough, the reader’s twangy valley girl accent made me want to deliberately veer the car into the nearest shearing shed. There’s no way in hell I could articulate my reaction to this book anywhere near as succinctly as Helen Razer has in her sponsored lady Blog so I won’t even try…all I will say is that when the protagonist’s “sub-conscious stares at her in awe” for the tenth time it’s a bridge too far and I hit pause…forever.

Overall, the trip home was fairly smooth and stress free, except for the final hour where phrases like “If I have to pull this car over…” and “Stop whinging before I lose my mind!” were continuously screamed from the drivers seat.

We arrived home a few hours ago, after a stay over last night in a country town motel and another five hours on the road today. The kids are in bed, the suitcases remain unpacked and the red wine is open. Tomorrow it’s back to juggling school, kinder, after school activities, jobs and deadlines…and plonking kids in front of the television during arsenic hour.

Bring it on!

First posted in 2012

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