Being a parent
The couple of years before meeting Mr Chateauneuf were all about me. After my divorce I redecorated my flat, bought myself a new bed and thoroughly enjoyed peaceful weekends when I would wake up, make myself a cup of tea and cuddle up with a book on the sofa in a complete silence.
Fast-forward a couple of years - I fell in love with a great man and became a part-time stepmum (every other weekend) to two adorable boys. My quiet, single gal’s existence became ancient history.
These days from Friday night, when they pick me up from the station until Sunday night, when the boys are safely tucked into their beds, it is a constant whirlpool of homework crisis, never-ending talks about football, arguing about whose turn it is to change the litter tray and the constant flow of ‘Can you do/make/wash/drive/give…’, ‘Are we going to McDonalds?’ and ‘Where is my…?’
By Sunday night I look forward to that moment when the kids are fast asleep - after endless drinks, countless hugs and kisses good-night, and tough negotiations about iPads in their beds - and the only sound that breaks the silence is the cork popping out of a bottle.
In search of that elusive peace and quiet Mr Chateauneuf whisked me away to sunny Lanzarote which in itself was a luxury. The added bonus was that granny and granddad had the boys which meant we had four nights child free.
The following few days was the most relaxing time I can ever remember spending. The biggest decision we had to make were which juice to have for breakfast or where to relax – the lounge or the spa.
With no alarm and no diary to follow, and barely aware of what time it was, we did whatever we wanted. On sunny afternoons, if we felt adventurous, we would walk along the beach, relishing the breeze from the ocean and the warmth of the sun; otherwise we would simply sit in the lounge, flooded with sunshine, enjoying a cup of coffee and catching up on emails, reading or writing.
Sometimes we would wander down to the spa, where we would lie down on the spa beds - wrapped in warm towels - pick up a book, read for half an hour, and then wake up hours later.
The only planned part (which we really didn’t mind), in our otherwise completely unstructured days, was a cocktail hour which usually lasted from after dinner till the last man standing.
In the blink of an eye our break was over and we landed in cold Gatwick to the steady drumming of rain welcoming us home. We both were rested and ready to be back to reality.
The following morning we picked up the kids and drove to Eastbourne where Mr Chateauneuf booked two hotel rooms for the night. To the boys’ delight the rooms were adjoining and they couldn’t stop running from one room into another, like two happy puppies chasing a ball.
Later that night, after a long walk, shopping and an afternoon tea - freshly showered and bathed - the four of us found ourselves wrapped up in robes and spread on the giant bed watching a questionable TV program, chosen by the boys. They smelt of shampoo, shower gel and were noisily sucking on vibrant candies they bought earlier in the sweets shop.
And as we huddled under the covers and I inhaled their familiar scents, something clicked. Up until that moment I didn’t realise how much I loved and missed them. I looked at Mr Chateauneuf who was peacefully dozing off and couldn’t help but wonder, when did this happen? When did I become a mum? Was it even possible to be a mum to kids I didn’t give a birth to?
DeeQ was snoozing with his arm wrapped around me and Little Dude was still nursing his candy, while I was stroking his hair. And somewhere in the serenity of that room I found my rest and peace.
That’s the thing about being a parent - I loved my romantic getaway with Mr Chateauneuf, with its classy evenings in the piano bar over a cocktail. But after a few days I couldn’t wait to come home. Because I missed my boys.