Holiday over. This year Emma and I hosted my brother’s family over from the UK, for a month. They say your relations are like fish. Fantastic when they are fresh but give it a week and they stink.
Not so this time, we had a ball. But it was a lot of hard work. Sorting the house out before they arrived, hosting two large Christmas parties to mark their arrival, clearing up after the Australian end of the family destroyed the house on Christmas Day before buggering off as usual. Packing for the Man from Snowy River ride. Surviving the Man from Snowy River ride in forty-degree heat. Driving home late, unpacking four cars, re-packing them the next day, driving to the rental property in Sandy Point and unpacking for the annual beach/sailing holiday. I didn’t realise until overloaded with it that packing involves an exhausting, endless and ultimately failed mental game of trying to remember things lest you left them behind and get abused by some entitled progeny for doing so.
In the end we effectively catered for eleven plus people for a month, the plus being our ever-expanding herd of boyfriends, girlfriends, a nephew that didn’t go back to England.
Meanwhile a hive of rather large yet unevolved adults, including a number that were not “ours”, constantly appeared at and between meal times looking for fuel, a loaf of toast and butter here, last night’s dinner there, and having devoured it would put their dishes in the dishwasher and groan as if doing us a favour.
The holiday was fine, the English are back in England and Emma and I are now back to work. But we still appear to have a hoard of junior grown-ups lying around the house, playing beer pong, immersing themselves in online gaming fantasy (“I’m going to be a gamer when I grow up”, yeah right) and getting upset when there is no bread, milk or cereal. And it isn’t just the food. They simultaneously devour a month of my salary in a week as they bathe in an invisible smorgasbord of cash absorbing rent, air conditioning, hot water, phone bills, phones, phone repairs, cars, car insurance, petrol, parking fines, speeding fines, electricity, sundry chemist and Officeworks items as well as the wear and tear on the house which costs fifteen thousand dollars every ten years to “tart up”.
For the last six weeks, Emma and I realise we have performed a perpetual round of shopping for food, tidying the kitchen, tidying the house, cleaning drying and folding laundry, cleaning up the back yard, cleaning the cars, driving them places, tolerating their interruption and paying for meals out. And our reward? An utter lack of privacy as they wander the corridors of home oblivious to the hour or their proximity to their knackered hotel managers.
We wouldn’t mind, for a while, but we are back to work and they are not. They are teenagers basking in the home we have built them at no cost to themselves and we have had about enough. These are no longer small children you can feed in a chair and put down for an eight-hour nap, they have grown from hatchlings to cuckoos, and they are pushing their parents out of their own nest. They are not children they are adults, drinking more than us, eating more than us, communicating less than us and not appreciating us. If this were combat we’d both be up for the Victoria Cross. Machine gun nests pale by comparison to the constant messing up of your house and quite honestly if it wasn’t for the anaesthetic qualities of Sauvignon Blanc, Corona and golf, we would downsize next week.
It’s our fault of course, we should have had two kids not four. Imagine that. Two kids. Next time we’re having two kids. We’ve decided. Now that’s a holiday.
I have always said that there are far more important things to get right than the stock market. The financial implications of marriage, divorce, having children, your education, your career, your business, inheritance, and your health are far more important than a mediocre financial return.
But the most treasured possession is your relationship. Emma and I looked at each other after the holiday and acknowledged to each other than we have worked hard and in doing so have succeeded, with our family. We do not regret one minute of the time we have had with our kids, they are everything.
But there comes a time. A time for them to think of us, and that time has come.