The secret diary of a single parent bloke
It still astonishes me that, for the first time ever, I’ve been able to put some money aside as savings. I was always flat broke with Katrina, I didn’t realise just what a huge drain on the finances she was. So I decided to spend some of my new savings on a holiday for me, Jack and Natalia.
It was with some trepidation that I decided to book a holiday. It would be the first time I’d ever taken my children away on my own, and our last “proper” holiday was fraught with problems. I had conflicting emotions: I desperately wanted, no needed, a holiday. Would we get bored of each other’s company over a whole week? Would I cope? But more worrying for me was the evening boredom that plagued me at home. Being stuck in front of the TV is one thing, being stuck in a foreign hotel room is quite another! Should I go on holiday with my parents? It would be an easier option, but I really wanted to do this myself.
After a lot of thought, I booked a holiday to Majorca with a single-parent holiday company. There seem to be several operators within this niche, and in the absence of recommendations, choosing came down to “pot luck”. It was expensive, in fact we could have gone with a high street tour operator for longer and saved nearly 50%, but I felt that the benefits of going in a group of similar families would outweigh the extra cost.
When we got there, we were met by our “rep”, a woman with her son, and were asked to wait at a cafe for the other flights to come in. There were seven families in all, arriving from different parts of the UK on the same day, and we were the second to arrive. Sat in the cafe with his three children was a bloke from London. He was seriously annoyed- he’d been waiting 2 hours already. By the time everyone had arrived, he’d been waiting for four hours! We all got on the coach, and the community spirit formed almost immediately- kids were playing with each other, and the adults were busy moaning to each other about the wait and how we’d all been ripped off with the flights (flights were included, but most of us had paid a substantial supplement to fly from a local airport, then were put on a budget airline).
The hotel was basic, and another example of the tour operator’s penny-pinching. I was especially annoyed that the kids had to share a bed. I know that this is common practice for young children, especially when the children are free, but this wasn’t a cheap holiday and neither of the children were “free”! Oddly, the tour operator’s shortcomings seemed to bring the group closer, and we pretty much stuck together for the whole holiday.
It was great being able to pop to the bar, or the shop, knowing that someone would keep their eye on your children for a couple of minutes, and the hotel was right on the seafront. The older kids took the younger ones crabbing, and there was a Spar shop close enough for the kids to go and buy milkshakes from. All was going well.
As the week progressed, Natalia and Jack got more and more over-tired and tetchy, which in turn made me tetchy, so midweek, I ordered them to have an afternoon nap. This was not well received, and stroppiness ensued. Eventually, I got my way, and they went to sleep. I sat on the balcony with a book, and enjoyed my piece and quiet- for a while. From the room above, another of our group was having exactly the same problems with her children. I found this oddly reassuring- it wasn’t just me having these problems. I no longer felt that I was a bad parent, well, certainly no worse than the others. I smiled and put my iPod on.
The next night, we all went out for a meal. A very long table had been set up outside a restaurant on the promenade and we ate lots of paella whilst looking out over the bay. In the distance, a storm was approaching. It hit us suddenly- howling wind, thunder, lightening, torrential rain. Parasols wrenched the tables over, glasses smashed, people ran in all directions, soaking wet. Everybody ran to the hotel lobby and took shelter. After making sure the kids were being looked after, I ventured out into the storm with one of the other parents. The storm was exhilarating, and we ran around like children, drenched from the warm rain. From one of the bars, loud music was playing, and we began to dance in the rain. And as the lightening flashed, we kissed. It felt like something out of a movie.
Back in the hotel, nobody knew, and nobody did find out. It was our little secret.
And all too soon, the holiday ended, our little group disbanded and we all went our separate ways. It was hard work, expensive, and exhausting, but it was fantastic. I feel energised and ready to face the dull routine, and that one kiss has restored my confidence in myself [see "Mug Shot"].