It wasn’t always like this. July 05 2018 6 Comments

Last week I took our four boys alone on a holiday to Bali. A week of sun and fun and quality time with their biggest fan - me. I admit, I do it as much for myself as I do it for them. I love a bit of vitamin D and it’s not hard to want to escape the monotony of being a flat out mum stuck in a Melbourne winter. The benefits of the escape outweigh the many obstacles, for all of us. 

With so much to do for active little boys and the added benefit of having many boy cousins nearby (my sister and her hubby run Bali Family Villas) it is an obvious choice for us. Unfortunately Shane can rarely travel with us during the AFL footy season, so if I want a holiday, I fly solo. Literally. Even though it’s a pretty quick and direct flight, that and the airport transfers are always the low point. Tantrums and vomits prevail over happy selfies and casual strolls through duty free. 

Once we arrive, the cloud of tension lifts and the memories of being squished in economy fade. This year as I shared pics of our adventure I received many messages about how brave I was travelling alone with so many kids overseas and it got me thinking.

It wasn’t always like this. 

No way. I have done the hard yards and do not let an image of a shiny happy face elude you to the fact that I birthed four boys in 5 and a half years. I can seriously count the number of full nights sleeps that I had on one hand from 2006-2016. Sleepers these Crawford boys are not. Even when they ‘slept through’ they were always early risers, no matter how late their head hit the pillow or how ‘worn out’ we tried to make them through out the day. 

It is only now after a few years of consistent sleep and all four boys finally at school that I can appreciate their boundless energy as a great life skill. The added greys and frown lines I can bare if it means I have boys with resilience and the ability to soldier on, no matter how tired. But for years, it took most of the life out of me. 

Yes I have had help over the years in the form of AuPairs (I could write a book on that chapter) and my Mum is an amazing Grandmother who always comes to the (distress) call. Shane is a hands on Dad, with finely tuned play time skills, rather than the “well lets all clean up the carnage we have left behind” type of Dad. The type who lets them all jump In the pool when he arrives home after witching hour and they have JUST settled down before bed.

Making memories he says. Dare I get in the way of those activities or I will forever be labelled the “fun police”. Humph. 

But we do not have much extra help for the number of kids we have (the type who rarely sit still), out numbered we sure are. I am there for 99% of the triumphs and trophies as well as the defeats and conflicts. I’ve survived gastro outbreaks that last weeks as they slowly move through every member of the family and I truly love my Miele washing machine like an extended family member. Coffee has always been my thing, but now it is really my THING. The coffee machine light, the motivating force drawing me out of bed most mornings. 

I’ve done toilet training times four, I’ve had the anxious kid, the climbing kid, the biting kid and the tiny baby rushed to hospital. I’ve had many bouts of solo parenting while Shane travels for work and put myself second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth most of the time. I counted 32 months of breastfeeding, rejection of bottles and only wanting Mum Mum Mum. I’ve cleaned the most mammoth of poo explosions and don’t even start me on teething or morning sickness. Lastly, (and need I say more) TWINS!

This is not a whinge, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat for my boys. It’s just a reminder to the Mums in the trenches. It is HARD work. For years. But, you will get your mojo back, you will breathe again and feel good about yourself and what lies ahead. Your kids become more manageable as you get your confidence and the primary school years welcome a light relief before it all changes again.

Last year I made it to one Book Club meeting AND I had read the whole book. My exercise and me time has become more regular and I can sometimes be spontaneous. The impromptu, free spirited days do seem long gone with the unchartered territory of the teenage years waiting ahead.

But this is it. This is motherhood. This is what we wanted.

The depleted lows and the glorious highs. The moments where the heart is full and we realise we’ve never known a love like this before. In the end all we really have are memories and sometimes we have to work harder than others to make them. 

So yes, I was brave taking the boys alone to Bali. Some moments took all of my strength to make it through and many times my patience was really tested. The older boys fought, Jack found his scream, there were vomits and many near misses on the water slides. I had #FOMO knowing my friends were nearby drinking cocktails by the beach. But hey, they all went to Kids Club once and I had two hours reprieve and the most glorious massage. 

What will we remember?

Hopefully, the togetherness, the laughs, the sunshine, the carefree days and the slow mornings. The time, the precious time.

Harry is officially the UNO champion of Bali and I drank from a coconut basking in the sun watching them all play together.

But it wasn’t always like this.