Next week we’re going up the coast for a few days. My parents-in-law own a holiday apartment up north that we’ve used for mini-breaks over the past eight years.
It’s funny going to the same place year after year. For me, it acts like height measurements penciled onto a door frame: Day by day you don’t notice a child getting taller, but you’re suddenly stunned by how much they’ve changed when you look down the frame. (A 10-year-old can grow up to 11in/28cm in one year!) When I look back at our holidays up the coast, the changes in our family seem stark — sometimes uncomfortably stark — to me.
We stayed in the holiday apartment when our son was a baby. He was an active little guy, speed-crawling all over the place and pulling at the power cables (hotel apartments are not babyproof!). We spent most of our time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine. I remember standing on the expansive white-sanded beach, looking towards the horizon, imagining how our son and his future siblings might want to pass their time here. Would we have a girl or a boy next?
We stayed there when our son was a toddler. He could now run about, and his obsession with power cables had thankfully passed! We spent many happy hours outdoors as a family. The little guy busied himself by filling plastic beach buckets with water, sand and leaves then stirring the “potion”. He also enjoyed broom-brooming his matchbox cars on carefully-constructed racing tracks in the sand.
It was during this trip that I found out I was pregnant with our second child. We took photos of the piddle-stick to cheekily announce the happy news to our extended family back home.
We stayed there again in the final trimester of my second pregnancy, when my belly was swollen enough to make me waddle. We had a beautiful time, enjoying one last holiday as a family of three before our little girl joined us. By then our son was talking in sentences and becoming more agile. He loved zooming around on his balance bike and playing on the playground equipment: swinging, climbing, balancing, tumbling and getting back up again (after a show-stopping cry and a brief cuddle).
Three weeks later I was hospitalised with a potentially life-threatening viral infection. Two weeks after that our daughter was born. Five years later I’m still mostly housebound with a chronic neuroimmune condition, called ME/CFS, that was triggered by the virus.
Needless to say, we haven’t made it up the coast to our in-laws’ holiday apartment many times in the past five years! We’ve spent much of our daily lives in survival mode. We did attempt a family holiday 12 months ago, but I spent much of my time weak, stiff and achey in bed. The holiday wasn’t at all restful for my burnt-out husband, who was caring for all three of us while we were away and who returned home absolutely exhausted. (At least the kids had a ball! We’re both very thankful for that.)
When my husband’s parents realised how burnt out he was, they made us an offer that was hard to refuse: “How about we come to the holiday apartment with you. We can care for the kids while you get a proper rest. You can stay in a separate apartment, that way it’ll be a relaxing holiday for you.” We said an enthusiastic “yes” of course! That was nine months ago.
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Statistics re children’s typical annual growth found here. Interesting!