Something has always got in the way of blogging recently, with the result that now I sit down and try and catch up my head is a mess of disparate thoughts, and no hint of a theme to string them all together around. Holidays are always a bit like this, pushing the door shut against the throbbing to-do list. Pretending to be totally relaxed about this kind of stuff.
We had a perfect week away in Dartmouth. Katie proving that, despite all its trials, 3 is actually is the sweetest age in terms of the sheer delight that can be gained from a bucket, spade and a beach. But that week was sandwiched between a week of utter stress, getting (another failed) job application in on time – this one with my incredibly talented former jobshare partner, so doubly depressing that it didn’t come off, finishing up a work report, and just trying to keep my head above water with all the end of term events. Which helpfully included Harry dressing as a cow for the last day of term. (Cue every parent punching air with deep joy.) And packing obviously - the one day I had set aside for serenity and organisation. So obviously Katie was ill.
And breathe. For then it was Dartmouth, and a week of remembering what it is to just look at what’s right in front of you and not want to move. We’d left it late booking a cottage, so were fairly nervous about what lay ahead. The website pictures were bland, nudging expectations generally downward. But what we hadn’t factored in was the view. We were high on a hill, and from every window was another perspective on my favourite place in the world. For the first time ever, being able to see the rooftops and river in fog, drizzle, brilliant sunlight, dawn, dusk. Oh Dartmouth at dawn, be still my beating heart. The twinkling lights of the ferry in the night. [sighs] Katie thought it was Balamory.
Our bed was super high so you could watch the river from bed. We went Scandinavian and slept without curtains for the week, so we didn’t miss a second of that view. There was an unexpectedly HUGE bathroom, with a fabulous sloping floor. Cue every child VOLUNTEERING for baths, even – shock - hair washes, every single night. A secret living room in the converted attic, higher even than the highest steeple of Dartmouth, with games and a balcony. And there, every night we discovered Game of Thrones, an obsession that has dominated the holidays (a bit like when I discovered Buffy in Season 4 and had all that blissful catching up ahead of me!). There were children who were so delightful and non-argumentative that it was a pleasure for them to stay up late with chocolate digestives and Masterchef punditry. And with total predictability - as every time we leave Dartmouth - I’ve been wracking my brain ever since for how we could hatch a plan to move there. Still thinking, obviously.
And then back to reality, of course we still had another week off, but it was a week with a research funding deadline slap bang in the middle. Which I knew I couldn’t afford to ignore, even if it was the longest of long shots. And it feels better now, having made the effort, even it if meant a few late night stints at the computer and the money would be peanuts. It makes me happy just to write about research I want to happen. And then we completely fell into a non-routine, wonderful, but hopeless when Tuesday came.
So now change is looming. The emails came confirming that Katie would be starting Year R in September, days after her 4th birthday. I'd say she's too little, but she's staggeringly tall (which really doesn't help!). And Harry going to middle school, which involves getting the bus every day with his big sister. It makes my heart ache slightly that it will be the end of our days pre- and post-school killing time around that dreaded bus-stop, when he often talks so much. Taken for granted, everyday time. Another invisible thread cut between us. Katie’s talking has been transformed these past few weeks, and while she’s still nowhere near as clear as a lot of children her age, it’s like having another child hearing her issue surreal instructions to her siblings, and putting on performance after performance of The Pancake Song. Literally not stopping for a single second of the day.
I also feel my heart sinking slightly at the thought that when (if) I get another job before Katie’s in school, I’ll have no holidays to speak of and so this break will be the last unfettered one for a while. There’s no getting away from the fact that I hadn’t quite banked on how difficult it is to manage illness, various events in different locations, different schools, holidays and INSET days with three children. While that isn’t a reason not to work - and I can’t quite explain how much I love working, it’s almost as vital to me as breathing - not having had to be at a desk has given me a peculiar freedom when all of these things have collided over the past month.
So what next? One way or another time’s ticking this term and those lists are going to have to make a comeback big style. I know this much though – at the dentist's tomorrow I am planning on pinning them down on exactly why this oil pulling malarkey is having zero effect on me when we KNOW from Gwyneth that it’s science with a capital S.