I wanted to take Rachel on holiday this year. If am honest though, the idea of taking a 2 year old to somewhere we could barely afford, without the comforts of home- entertaining her all day, then sitting on my own all night- really didnt sound that much like a holiday. I considered Butlins- then realised I would rather put pins in my eyelids, although the prospect of perving at Chico could count as a guilty pleasure.
Luckily, 6 of my friends also had very similar ideas- and last week- 6 of us set off, with children in tow- to a very large house in the Cotswolds-with room for all. When I told people I was going on holiday with 6 adults, and 9 children- most under the age of 5- I got some very insincere responses. People saying ‘that will be lovely’- while barely concealed horror contorted their faces. It says something that every single parent I know, thought it was a fabulous idea.
When there are just two people in a house, even if one of them is only two- its intense. You are a tiny family unit, and as such, even though I have no shortage of friends- the relationship is one that is all consuming. You are a family unit so closely bound- that it can become isolating, and even though this little person I share my entire life with-has been speaking for less than a year-80percent of my conversations are with her, and her alone. We plan our days together, and her wishes are taken into account, in a way that they wouldnt be if there was more than one adult, or if she had siblings. When she is in bed, unless someone comes round- that is me- in the house, unable to leave-not even for a quick trip to the shop, or takeaway. There is no lying down, if I feel a bit crap- reading a book cos I feel like it- if she is awake- I am awake, and solely responsible.
The relationship that results is awesome, and amazing, and I get more of my daughter than I ever hoped possible- but it has its issues.
Going on holiday with 6 adults, and 9 kids that young, may seem like a nightmare for those of you who dont have this- but for the 6 of us, it was a godsend. When we arrived, the tightly bound intense relationship we share at home- dissapeared. She thanked me for ‘buying’ her all these children- and legged it into the garden to play on the swings with her new friends.
Our children-(Ophelia aka Monkey Face aged 2, Persephone aged 4, Betsy aged 3, Rachel aged 2, Isla aged 2, Jack aged 3, Brian aged 7, Hannah aged 5, Liam aged 5, and the teeny baby Sam-10 months), have never had so little supervision, and have never been so occupied. For a week, there was always another adult around to talk to, to laugh at the kids with, to keep an eye on your child if you needed a shit(seriously, I value going for a shit by myself – there is nothing quite so offputting, as a two year old, copying your poo face). The kids didnt even want our company- so exciting was it, to have others the same age, to run round the garden, make dens out of beds, play on the swings, squabble with, draw pictures with. And in the evenings, the evenings that can be so crucifyingly dull at home, and which ensure that this blog is updated regularly, and that Facebook is used to its full-those evenings were filled with semi pissed slummy mummys, laughing, and occasionally skinny dipping- all the while- knowing the kids were being looked after.
Feeding time was quite interesting. It was a novelty trying to get a 17 place table set, with enough food to feed all, but to cater to all the allergies and fads- it resulted in industrial food- in great quantities- with vast quantities of cereal, pasta, and milk being consumed. But when all 6 of us were so used to doing everything alone- the assistance of other adults- ensured that there were never squabbles about housework- just 6 women glad they werent doing ALL the jobs.
All in all , this has led me to question, whether living alone with a child, is all that necessary.
Is a romantic relations really the only relationship, upon which one can build a household? In fact, is it that wise to base the life that you and your child have, on the one kind of relationship, which is statistically speaking likely to end? Given the difficulties of reconstituted families, is it even the best relationship to base this on? And is it really the best thing, to reduce your relationship to something that is overwhelmed with trivialities and domestic mundanities-especiallly when by the time you reach your thirties, you are not looking for someone to build a life with- you have a life already.
Now, I am not packing my stuff, and moving to an eco house, come hippy community, complete with yoghurt weaving, and tofu picking, any time soon(although there are several in my hippy town). I am not all of a sudden, developing a desire to grow my own potatoes, or give up my heels.
BUt seriously- surely two or three mothers, pooling their resources- to buy or rent a larger house, in which to raise their children together- is more sensible than us all existing, in our isolated houses, shouldering all the burden-with our children not getting the benefit of the many people, that larger families take for granted.
I could move in with any of the girls I went on holiday with(well maybe not Paula..) but as they are scattered round the country, and I love where I am, its unlikely- but I have to say- I wont be closed to the possibility of sharing a house with someone in future- and I am eyeing up that spare room quite differently now.