Last Friday, I decided to treat my wife to a bit of time to relax on her own. After all, as most parents know, chilling out free from anyone asking questions like ‘what’s higher than infinity?’, putting themselves in immediate physical danger or generally disrespecting your personal space is rare.
So rather than risk disturbing her precious night’s sleep, I did something far more thoughtful. I kindly got drunk, fell asleep on the last train home and ended up staying at the Days Inn just off the M3. Perfect. Or rather, about as far from perfect as a husband/father gets within the bounds of legality and/or fidelity.
Several apologies, one poor night’s sleep (turns out motorway service station hotels aren’t as indulgent as they sound) and a rude wake-up call from a five-year-old and a two-year-old later, I was back into the fray, nursing a hangover and a healthy dose of guilt while charging around a park, playing what could loosely be termed football, and going on ‘Star Wars missions’ in the woods. I even got to deal with Dylan inadvertently (I hope!) urinating on another child from up a tree.
After that, it was out again (yes, I’m too old for this) for a very enjoyable Saturday night’s eating and drinking with friends. Then up at 6am the next morning, two gut-wrenching Code Browns from Nathan and onto a sweaty soft play for a couple of hours. By Sunday evening I was broken.
To be clear though, I’m not looking for sympathy. Not at all. I’m well aware that: a) I brought nearly all of it on myself; and b) most people reading this will have been through their own version of the same thing. Or are about to.
But my question is why do we do it? Why do we think going out in the way we used to is still a good idea, even if only sporadically? Being hungover with kids is horrific. The equivalent of asking for a blunt needle soaked in chilli oil when you’re giving blood. Why add insult to injury?
Simple. Because no matter how much we love our children, no matter how often we say wanky stuff like ‘being a parent just adds soooo much depth to my life’, and no matter how guilty we feel about wanting to spend some time away from the chaos, it’s hard to resist the odd, fleeting taste of our old life. The one we now fondly recall through rose tinted glasses. Where a coffee meant a conversation not a race. Where the washing basket filled up once a week and without anything having to be soaked in Dettol first. Where the effects of a few beers could be slept off the next morning. And a holiday was, well, actually a holiday.
Try the guest ale. Yes please. Eat a whole chicken then delay the journey home by stopping for some late-night chips. Of course. Have one more for the road. Why not? Check into a motorway hotel at 3am and be forced to ask a middle-aged man named Keith to unlock your door for you. Hmmm, maybe that’s where we should draw the line.
Until next time, of course.