holiday noun 1. brit. a time spent away from home for rest or enjoyment
Yeah right. The 2 weeks I spend in Tuscany are not restful and some of it is really not enjoyable. Holidays with toddlers are really just a change of scene with some extra helpers. Its not lying on a deserted beach, reading a novel and getting a good tan. It's the first time we've been abroad as a family and I don't travel well. I'm a sickie traveller and usually have to sleep most of the way.
The children love the flight and find the whole travel thing a novelty. I just find it terribly stressful, worrying about children running off, bags going missing, losing my medication, trying to behave appropriately with my in laws - oh yes and getting in "The holiday the mood." Thankfully we all arrive together, with everything and get to the campsite with no trauma's. Actually, its really nice.Me and my cynicism. We are all staying in the same caravan which is a bit disconcerting. I get a little self conscious about noises, smells and the nearness of my husbands parents. He is fine with it, but its all a little up close and personal for me. As long as my mother-in-law doesn't offer to wash my smalls it'll be ok. Considering we are in a caravan, I've not yet had a psychotic episode and obsessive cleaning is not on my mind. Well thank god for that.
When you have depression everything is more stressful than normal, so it takes me about 4 days to recover from the shock and get into my holiday stride. I also need to adjust to living with other people. It does feel a bit like intensive farming all that squeezing into a small place and feeding from a shared trough every couple of hours. Nobody has actually mooed yet, but its been close. The weather is warm, there is a lovely swimming area and the kids have an amazing time. I though still feel disconnected, and I have to work hard at becoming immersed in whatever we are doing on any given day. Although I feel better, I begin to realise that I have limitations and I cannot do things the way that I used to. I get tired very quickly, stress makes my mood dip and other peoples irks and foibles can really upset me if I allow them too.
We go on structured day trips (I can't do spontaneous or rolling with it in my current frame of mind) and see some absolutely stunning towns, architecture and rolling hills and vinyards. Tuscany is breath taking. Everywhere you go there is history, culture and community. Children are not pariahs in restaurants and town centres, and as our boys are blond and blue eyed, every Italian thinks they are heaven sent cherubs. We all manage to slow down, and finally I beging to enjoy without effort.
Then on a wet day trip out at the leaning tower of Pisa I get lost . I must have got taken up inside my own head too much, the tower really, really leans and the surrounding basilicas are stunning. And, as I turn around to ask where we are going for lunch, nobody is there. I suddenly feel total panic and my breathing becomes rapid. I stare frantically at thousands of faces of all races and cultures, but none of them are recognisable. My heart is hammering and I'm trying not to become hysterical. I start running up and down and trying to retrace where we had been up until that point, but I'm not getting anywhere. I've got no money, identification or phrase book with me. I am completely alone. I start to cry uncontrollably like a 5 year old. I remember getting lost in the town centre when I was a child and thinking that I would never see my mother ever again. It is a feeling beyond terror.
And then my mother-in-law is standing in front of me, asking me where I have been. She sees my tears and holds me until I can get it together. She is comfort itself. I am relieved beyond measure and the spell of fear is broken and a soothing calm covers me. I'm grateful for her silence - she doesn't chide me for my silly outburst. It's at this point I realise that I am still prone to over reaction and that I am sensitive and very easily unsettled. I also promise to never walk anywhere on my own again. Ever, ever, ever!
The holiday rolls to an end and although I've had some very difficult episodes, the overarching feeling is of happiness. I have made it through. I've wound up my father in law about his mistake of chopping up raw garlic thinking it was a big spring onion, I've been entertained by my husband in a hire car, the boys have learnt to swim and I still love and care for my mother-in-law even when she is as moody as me. Excellent.
Bring on the return to work.