Girlfriend, you need a holiday. By which I mean, a HOLIDAY, in the true sense of the word. I don’t mean a week-long farm stay in a small cottage with no dishwasher, where you’ll still need to make dinner every day, and wash-up afterwards. I don’t even mean a month-long overseas trip to see dearly loved family, where – if you survive a long-haul flight with three children – you’ll still have to make dinner every day, and wash-up afterwards. And I certainly don’t mean camping. Fuck camping.
I mean, a HOLIDAY. A proper, cocktails-by-the-swimming-pool, buffet-breakfast, maid-please-make-up-my-room HOLIDAY. It’s been more than two years since we had a holiday like this, and if you’d asked me, I’d have said we were doing okay. If you’d asked me, I’d have said our extra pennies were much better spent on a new fridge, Kmart specials and two-for-one offers at Dan Murphys. We don’t need a HOLIDAY.
In an unusual turn of events, I was wrong. I was spectacularly, dramatically and categorically WRONG. I needed a holiday. We needed a holiday. Specifically, we needed a five-star, cocktails-by-the-swimming-pool, buffet-breakfast, maid-please-make-up-my-room holiday. We needed Bali.
I’m telling you this as though everyone can afford to pack up and fuck off to five-star Bali. I’m well aware that most of you can’t afford to do that. Fucking hell, WE can’t afford to do that. We’re only here because I have the best mum and dad in the whole entire world, who – while they may not have bought me a Hilux – did stump up for the five of us to have a holiday in Nusa Dua. I think they realised how much we needed a holiday more than we did.
We were knackered. Life, as you well know, can be fucking relentless. On a day-to-day basis, we don’t have a second to catch our breath. Five-am alarms, two loads of washing, breakfast, school uniforms, school lunches, school run, traffic chaos, work, school pick-up, sugar-dip tantrums, dinner, dinner rejected, exercise, clean up, baths, bedtime, disturbed sleep, lost dummies, rinse and repeat. That shit wears you down. You don’t realise, until you’re so tired that you don’t even notice you’re tired anymore, and the bags under your eyes take up permanent residence on your face, and you kind of forget what your kids look like, even though they’re always – ALWAYS – lurking about, asking you for shit.
And then, you go on holiday. You wake up and the days stretch ahead of you. There is this delightful concept called time – TIME – to throw the ball for hours on end with an 11-year-old who you feel like you haven’t even looked at for months. It helps if this 11-year-old belongs to you, otherwise it’s a bit weird. There’s TIME to teach your five-year-old to swim; a five-year-old whose had thousands upon thousands of dollars spent on swimming lessons in an attempt to teach him, but waited until he had his mum and dad to himself, in a lagoon pool overlooking the ocean, to say, fuck it, and swim a lap underwater. There’s TIME to count the freckles on your four-year-old’s nose – freckles that you didn’t even know she HAD, and you might never have noticed, if you hadn’t spent a vast chunk of your day catching her as she jumped into your arms from the side of the pool. There’s time to read books. Books! Motherfucker, I’ve nearly finished a book that I began on that wonderful day in 2015 when I had day surgery at Joondalup Hospital.
Yeah, this is the memory-making shit that the Instagram mothers are always harping on about. Except, it’s not the bought-and-paid-for shit that makes the memories. It’s the absurd shit, the catastrophic shit, the funny, unexpected shit that ONLY happens on holidays. We still talk about the time Ben stood on a monkey’s tail in Ubud 2010, and it snarled and turned on him like a wronged yummy mummy in a Myer stocktake sale. Or the time Ben walked through the market stalls of Seminyak bare-bollock naked, and the stall holders cheered and waggled their little fingers at him. That was funny. Or the last time we were in Bali, and Ben (always Ben!) fell (jumped) into the hotel pond ON THE WAY to the airport for our journey home. I’m almost certain we’ll laugh (one day) about Ben flooding the hotel bathroom last night, after he lost control of the hand-shower (dickhead).
I love this stuff. I love Bali. I love the lovely people, and the way the kids think of all the staff – universally – as their friends. Their “brown friends” (sic), but their friends nonetheless. I love the buffet breakfast. I love the sunsets, and the sun rise, and the big fuck-off bath in the hotel suite. Most of all, I love the smiles on my kids’ faces. And the beer. Don't forget the beer. I really, really love the beer.