It’s Monday morning at my son’s school and the mothers are giving my face a second glance. No wonder. I have two large red marks on the side of my chin, which look like I’m going through puberty again.
‘How was your trip?’ someone asks me, trying not to stare at my chin.
‘Well let me give you a quick overview. See these two marks which look like large pimples - they are in fact sores resulting from my 16-month-old daughter’s
I shouldn’t complain. Hell, we were lucky to go on a holiday...to the snow - a privilege that I never got to experience as a child because we simply couldn’t afford a ‘snow holiday’.
My two older sons got the opportunity to try skiing and my daughter got to see snow for the first time. My husband took a week off work and we travelled together as a family. Even my parents tagged along for good measure.
It sounds like a great plan. A great holiday. Yet isn’t a holiday supposed to be relaxing - a chance to unwind, to recharge the batteries? By definition a “holiday” means you’re supposed to come home more relaxed than when you first left...aren’t you?
“Relaxing” isn’t the word that comes to my mind as I recall the four loads of washing per day in the holiday apartment to keep up with the constantly wet clothes from a day in the snow.
Nor does it come to mind as I remember getting up to my daughter five times a night. She continued to fall off the mattress we had set up on our bedroom floor because she wouldn’t go near the port-a-cot that had been hired.
Having a chance to unwind does not include sitting on the floor of the ski school crèche holding my screaming child who, clinging to me for dear life, refuses to be left in the charge of strangers even for a couple of hours.
Recharged batteries are far from my thoughts as I apologise for the hundredth time to other passengers and lift my child from the plane’s aisle floor like a yo-yo to enable them to pass us and get to the toilet.
Just when I think I’ve got two minutes to drink my cold tea, my son’s loud and distressed voice can be heard: ‘I’m going to be sick. Can someone pass me the vomit bag’
I look at other parents, all the in the same boat, and we nod to each other in silent defeat. There’s not much glamour going on back in 24D and beyond on a budget airline, and we are all in this together.
The looks we exchange are plain and simple. It’s as if we don’t need any words. It’s a silent promise. ‘Things will get easier won’t they?’ we almost mouth to each other.
As we make our way off the plane- the last to disembark from the crèche that has become the tail end of the aircraft - my husband is carrying our baby girl. She now wears only a nappy and shirt as she’s poured noodles and drinks over the three outfits I had on hand for the flight.
My husband turns to me and says: ‘Clare, I can feel something warm coming from Amelia’s nappy. She’s going to need changing asap’.
And then there’s the fallout thanks to the germs no doubt picked up on the plane. The week following our return home resulted in a visit to the doctor for conjunctivitis, breathing problems for my third child and a late night dash to
‘Another good reason not to go on holidays,’ laments my husband as I call him from the emergency room. ‘We’re better off staying at home’. And this time, I can’t agree more.
Clare Sultmann is a wife, mother of 3 and the founder of Dear Molly.
As a survivor of a catastrophic accident, former barrister at law