I feel a tendency with these blogs to have a good old moan about the challenges of being a parent, of juggling a career and business. Or of making light of how hard it can be, and how ridiculous it can be. Of the crazy things you find yourself doing, or saying, just to keep the peace. The clichés that you come up against that you were pretty sure wouldn’t happen to you, surely…? The terrible twos; acting up for attention; over-tiredness. Oh no, our kids won’t do that. We’ll make sure of it.
I don’t want to write that kind of post today. This last month has been defined by a fantastic holiday we all had, to New York. We were thrilled to be invited to my mate’s wedding over there – someone I went to school with but has been over there for 9 years. Lois and Carrie were flower girls, and I was best man.
We were anxious about going. After a long-haul holiday in 2011 when Lois was little, we said we’d not do it again for some time. Kids have just as much fun camping in Yorkshire – they don’t really care where they are. But there was no way we’d miss this experience. We fretted about the long journey (a two-part flight via Amsterdam there and back), about jet-lag, about how the kids would behave at the wedding, about having to take Lois out of school. There was even talk a week before, when we were all a little under the weather, that I might go on my own, or just take Lois.
I’m so glad that didn’t happen, because the trip was fantastic. The flight over was fine. Lois sat and watched films or coloured the whole way. Carrie literally didn’t sit still for a minute, but that was OK for a day flight and she wasn’t making a fuss. (Though the faces of the other passengers as we boarded were a picture – another cliché!).
It was not a relaxing holiday, but that was never going to be the case. The girls were up at 4am the first day, and refused to have an afternoon nap. They were dead on their feet for the rehearsal dinner that evening. They did a little better the next morning – 6am, but that meant a long day for the wedding day too. But I think you get a little extra adrenaline when you’re on holiday, and the wedding was perfect. Carrie’s slow walk down the aisle beautifully scattering petals turned into a full-speed run towards me (standing at the front with the groom), but what do you expect, she’s 2! And they both loved a bit of a dance.
We all went to bed at the same time each night – about 8 or 9pm. We had not a minute without the kids nearby (all our recent holidays with kids have had grandparents with us too, giving us some time to ourselves occasionally), but I don’t think I’d change any part of it. The trip will not be remembered by Carrie, but Lois, who turned 6 a week after we got back, will do, I hope. They are incredibly lucky girls to have had such an opportunity – flower girls at a Brooklyn warehouse loft wedding – and I just hope they understand that, in time.
Or rather, I hope we are good enough parents that we can successfully teach our children to appreciate such wonderful experiences, and never take them for granted.
Steve Mayes | Steve Mayes Photography