It's a BEAUTIFUL day.
Temperatures are soaring into the early to mid-teens and you notice that it's just slightly overcast. You’ve awoken mildly refreshed after a lovely 3-hour sleep. 'Wow!' you exclaim to the giant duvet covered hump in the bed (husband). “'It's a really gorgeous day out there; we should take the kids to the beach!!'
“Hmmmmrffppffffff” comes the reply from the larger than ideal and rather hairy sleeping beauty beside you. Knowing that this may be the most conscious you'll find him for some time, you take that as a yes. You dig your way through that cupboard and find the trusty thermal bag. Yes it smells vaguely of ham and yoghurt, but if you hadn't been out in a year you would too.
Make a few wee ham sandwiches, wipe a bum, clean lots of teeth, rummage in a few different wardrobes, winch tight-ass socks onto several kicking feet, brush the hair of a banshee, clean pee off toilet seat, fling breakfast dishes into dishwasher then pack the changing bag (8 packs of wipes, 20 nappies, 3 bottles of hand sanitiser, a lot of spare pants, anti-histamine spray, diarrhoea medicine, a torch, hand grenades, riot shield and a missile launcher).
Husband’s conscious. He casually dresses in a relaxed, calm manner, lingers over his breakfast then declares himself ready to go. You're seething at the fecker already but it's a beach day! Happy faces! 3 miles into the journey and the tally of items dropped by the kids and absolutely needing to be picked up IMMEDIATELY is sitting at 78. (The 79th may well be picked up and hurled out the window, but you try to relax). For the next 10 miles the back of your seat is repeatedly kicked by swinging legs.
At this stage, a child may well be picked up and hurled out the window, but you try to relax. The rest of the journey passes in a blur of ear-shredding 'singing', moaning, “I spy” fallout wars and airborne objects. Then the road turns red and you know the beach is close, hurrah!!!
With temperatures hitting a balmy 13 - 14 degrees, everyone's had the same idea as you and flocked to the beach. There are feral children everywhere. And yummy mummies everywhere Yikes, hurried decision of manky 10-year-old top (label faded but possible Dunnes), maternity jeans and Converse potentially wrong, but too late now.
Rage-inciting husband insists on driving around for a good 10 minutes carefully selecting a parking space. The first one you came to would've done just fine but no, why would he EVER be that straightforward. Get out of the car and it's bloody windier than it looks.
Leaving husband to grapple with the windbreaker you get the kids out of the car.
You are horrified by the sight before you.
The clean smooth-haired children you deposited into the back seat of the car emerge as shoeless, snotty-nosed wildebeests with wild erratic hair and possible missing teeth. Obviously at least one needs a wee. You spend your first 15 minutes of 'beach day!' nestled amongst empty beer bottles in the sand dunes steadying a crouching peeing child. #MakingMemories
Husband is in a rotten mood because the windbreaker didn't take kindly to being in the hands of a novice. Yes it’s up, but it’s crooked and sloping to one side and probably not remotely breaking the wind. Speaking of breaking wind, you decide that what this situation needs is some ham sandwiches.
Is there any situation that can’t be calmed by a ham sandwich and a Capri sun? Yes as a matter of fact... ”Sandcastle-gate.”
You glance up just in time to be slapped up the face by a spade being brandished wildly by your betrayed 3-year-old.
Turns out, 6-year-old sat on his sandcastle.
Turns out, spades are bloody sore to be whacked by. Husband’s merrily eating sandwiches and sipping tea oblivious to “Sandcastle-gate.” Eventually you persuade 3-year-old that there's plenty more sand on the beach and help him recreate his pre-bum-indent masterpiece. Meanwhile 6-year-old has been scrabbling around in the sand and found some 'treasure' which obviously MUST be put into your handbag for safe transmission home.
The 'treasure' is:-
As you're frantically searching for the hand sanitiser, you hear the tinkling off-key (and therefore creepy) tones of an ice cream van.
You do the “I know they’ve been wee shits but let’s get them an ice-cream” face at your husband. It’s a begrudging “yes” but he secretly relishes the chance to be the hero.
“Who wants an ice-cream?!” he says, obviously met by shrieks of delight.
You mutter mild swear words under your breath.
He gets to be the ice-cream buying martyr while you’re sat there with a potential dried-up dog turd in your hand.
AND he’s clearly forgotten the oath they make you pledge allegiance to before leaving hospital with your first child - sandwiches BEFORE ice cream. At this point you admit defeat and make a mental note to “have a headache” for at least the next 3 weeks. Once the kids reach a level of 75% of total skin surface area being coated in ice-cream/sand combo, it's time to pack up.
The car does not resemble the neatly packed vessel you started the day in, but rather a jumble sale on wheels. The bag content categorisation system is obsolete and there's every chance the ham sandwiches are in the towel bag and hand sanitiser in a shoe somewhere. The journey home is more peaceful, with tired children drifting off to sleep and the tropical temperatures coming down to a more bearable 8 or 9 degrees.
You reflect on the day, and realise that it wasn't an Instagram or Pinterest kind of day.
You ran out of patience (several times) and you’ve got sand in places you hadn’t realised you had until you’d birthed a child.
But you were together as a family. A slightly dysfunctional, and mostly at loggerheads, sort of family, but a family nonetheless.
And you love each other. And beach days are supposed to be chaotic and ridiculous and not fun for the grown-ups.
And as you sit in the car on the way home, eating the leftover crusts of the ham sandwiches that the seagulls didn’t want, you look at the peaceful sleeping little faces in the back and think to yourself that if you could choose anywhere in the world to be right now, it would be right here.
I’m Jemma, a lawyer turned Mummy and freelance writer.
I have 3 young children and 1 husband (1 is quite enough thank you!) and we live in Northern Ireland.
My talents include being able to say the alphabet backwards and I’ve been known to eat an entire ball of Mozzarella by myself.
I started my blog in May 2017 as I needed to vent about the realities of motherhood and my poor, long-suffering husband’s ears deserved a break.Tagged with: Belfast family life, funny mum story, funny toddlers