How Greece Taught Me To Love Being A Mum

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Last week I took a little holiday. Well, kind of a big holiday actually. 1,541 miles to be exact, to Paxos in Greece travelling by train, taxi, plane, bus, boat and jeep. I had looked forward to this holiday for weeks and weeks beforehand, imagining the week of sunshine, beaches, indulgence and adult company. I’d thought about being without the kids – they were having a week with their dad – I knew I’d miss them but having them spend two nights away a fortnight prepares me for the time we’re apart.

The holiday was everything I wanted it to be. Paxos was literally heaven on earth, a tiny island full of little bays with turquoise waters, villages with gorgeous Tavernas churning out Melitzanosalata (I ate it every day), moussaka and Mythos. The beaches were rocky but stunning and I swam in the sea, laid out on the beach and took naps. It was a grown-ups dreamland.

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But I had no idea how much being away from the children for such a long time would hurt. It really was like I was missing something, something huge that I couldn’t quantify or replace. The stacks of sweet children on the island made it worse; I could see Elfie playing with the little girls of her age, painting rocks and collecting shells, or Hux charging into the sea with his usual ignorance of personal safety.

In reality of course it wouldn’t have been that perfect. Hux is probably a year two young for such a holiday (without him being a huge handful at least) and I would have worried about Elfie’s health in such a remote place. But still, but still. It ached.

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I felt guilt for being in such a special place without them – being on the beach, by a pool, looking at fish. Guilt that I was spending my free time away from them doing something so exciting. Guilt that rather than working hard I put my laptop away for a week to concentrate on these things I think they call books. I did a lot of thinking, mental caretaking, situation pondering. I think – as cheesy as this sounds – that by being away for that week I grew into my role as a mum more than I have in a long time.

There was a moment, the day after I returned home, when I was hanging the washing up on the line. I’m trying to get Elflie out of nappies at night and Hux I guess just likes the feeling of air on his bottom so as a result we get through a load of Fairy non-bio. The children were kicking a ball, the sun was on our faces and we had nothing to do but just be together in the garden. This is when a particular thought popped into my head for the very first time in my life, and that was just how much I love being a mother.

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Being a mum has never been something that I’ve disliked. It was moreso a situation that happened to me when I wasn’t really expecting it and therefore it freaked me out. It was something I kind of just got used to and in the meantime I think I missed out on the enjoyment part.

But there it was – hanging out fresh sheets, listening to bickering over a ball and thinking about what to cook that evening. Like a lightening bolt. It felt blissful to just know I was in the right place with those two little people at that time.

So content.

Thank-you, Paxos, for teaching me how to love being a mum. I’ll be back soon and with two little mini-mes. We can’t wait.

I should probably come back at a later date and tell you all about just how wonderful visiting Paxos – the actual island – was. Or the story about how I was 5 minutes away from my flight because traces of explosives were found in my handbag (my new nickname is TNT). Or maybe the one where I got on a train on the last leg of my journey home to Buckinghamshire and ended up in Wigan. Stay tuned…

38 Comments
  1. That’s so lovely. I’m sorry that you struggled while you were away (although I guess that was to be expected, and I remember you saying before you went how much you’d miss them) but how brilliant that you came home, feeling this way. I have been having similar thoughts recently – moments when I look at my daughter and just feel like I’ve finally accepted motherhood and realise how lucky I am.

  2. I’m glad you had that space to re-group and miss them. You’ve all been through an awful lot and it’s hard to get space to breathe. Brilliant that you’re able to enjoy being a mum all the more for it now *note to self* xx

  3. Such a sweet post x I think time away from the kiddies is great when you come back full of so much love for them ;) doesn’t stop you feeling guilty while you’re away but that’s what all the wine is for! lol xx

  4. Sometimes a little time away is just what you need to restore the equilibrium and really appreciate how how amazing kids make life. I’ve done a bit of island hopping in Greece but not to Paxos, looks beautiful x

  5. Although I often have moments where I’m THIS close to paying good money to have a week away from the kids, I don’t really think about just how long a week is, especially a week when you are so used to having no alone time or relaxation time at all.

    I can totally imagine that it would hurt and that I would imagine them there with me. And really, I’m not sure I’d know what to do with myself…which is probably the point where the alcohol comes in.

    Glad your trip has helped show you how much you like being a mother. Sometimes I think you have to (momentarily) step away to be able to regroup your thoughts and move forward.

    1. you’ve hit the nail on the head! I literally sat there at times thinking… errr, what now? There was just nothing to do and I didn’t know how to deal with it!! For those times there was red wine ;)

  6. I totally get the feeling of craving alone time but feeling achy once you are away from the kids. The yoga thing takes me to London for a long weekend once a month, and as much as I am looking forward to it, the moment I set foot into our old, empty flat without the girls running through the halls, my eyes well up. #suchafool

    1. oof… that must be hard! I know the feeling though, when the kids are with their dad I try to stay down in London because it’s just far too quiet at home without them.

  7. I think it takes having a break to make you realise how fortunate and how much you miss your role as a mum. I get this whenever I”m away from Wilf for more than a day and I think it makes me a better mum too! x

  8. Sometimes I could chew off my arm for some grown up. non-work time ‘just to myself’ (or at least, to myself and Ash). And then as soon as I get it, I feel like a part of me is in fact missing because Pickle isn’t there.

    Incidentally, on the overnight thing – I’ve recently discovered it’s actually hormonally driven, so at some point it will just click when she produces high enough amounts of ADH to slow down production of urine overnight. So there’s not much need for training etc beyond, say, going to the loo before bed and limiting late drinks. It’s quite different from the daytime element. Which is why Ramona, having requested pants overnight out of nowhere, has managed a reasonable initial run of dry nights – whereas she still has Poo Issues (long, boring, gross story) during the day! I wasn’t even going to try at this point until we nailed that, but she did it for me…

    1. Ahh thanks for this info – now you say it I think I read about it somewhere but who knows where, like most info it goes in one ear and out the other these days. Off to Google!!

  9. I remember a very similar feeling many years ago – I was a single Mum to my eldest for a few years and went to Rhodes for a week without her when she was 4, while it was nice to have a proper break I missed her far more than I thought I would!

  10. Brilliant. I’m reading Toddlercalm and she talks a lot about time out for parents being critical. This is the deluxe version, obvs. Love it!

  11. Ahh such a lovely post, I know what you mean about looking forward to time without them and then being away and watching other kids and yearning for them, I’ve done that too. The stories you still need to tell sound pretty interesting as well! Mich x

  12. Oh beautiful, love this post and you so deserve that time away! When I went to Africa I didn’t call home once and switched off totally from being a mum for 4 days, it really made the world of difference. Little ones are so all consuming at this age. Can’t wait for the other updates too TNT!!!

  13. Awww, such a beautiful post, I’m so glad you had a fantastic time and that it made you realise how much you love being a Mum. Can’t wait to hear about the explosives…my guess would be party popper remnants?

  14. Sounds like the perfect holiday if you enjoyed your break and but also back to motherhood reinvigorated.

    I went away with friends for 5 days last year and left my boy with my mum when he was only a year old. I felt so weird and guilty at first but had such a great time and came back so much more grateful got my role as a mum! (Wrote a bit about it here: http://scepticalmum.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/is-it-selfish-to-go-away-without-your-children/)

    Also thanks for the holiday tip. Paxos looks beautiful.

  15. Awww Wigan. You should have popped in for a cuppa – I’m only a few miles down the M6.
    I’m glad you had your mum lightning bolt :-) it’s a gorgeous moment xx

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