Travelling long-haul with small children is quite like childbirth. (I contemplated expanding on that analogy for a while, standing in the bathroom typing so as not to wake the baby who is finally sleeping; there is a phase of general discomfort and it does crescendo at some point during a 14 hour flight that comes off the back of a six hour flight, which comes off the back of a 2 hour flight and 3 hours at an airport wrangling over-excited kids. And there is a point you swear to yourself that once you’ve landed, you’ll never do this again. There is an oxytocin rush as the plane touches down and you get all weepy and gaze lovingly at your offspring as they take it all in, faces alight. Anyway, I’ll stop because I swore I wasn’t going to continue with the analogy and yet here I am. Oh, look, one more thing: long-haul travel, like childbirth, is hard on the parents and on the kids. And you don’t get much sleep. Okay I’m done.)
I’m writing this on Friday night. Somehow, and I’m not quite sure how, we left home early on Tuesday afternoon. I can hear the ocean and the crickets and the occasional bird – and absolutely nothing else.
Thirteen days later…
Right. It’s the new year and I like new years. I like making lists of things to try and do or see. Every year, the top two items on my list are read more and write more, two things small children make slightly more difficult (slightly more difficult, but also – in my experience – perhaps richer?). Either way, it feels like only now, after the chaos of arriving and jetlag and the excitement of Christmas and the sleeplessness of settling two little kids into a new country, timezone and climate, are we starting to unwind. Unwind and read, unwind and write. Settle into a new routine as much as a lack of one, and go with some sort of flow.
It’s good to be back. I love our supermarkets. The weather has been perfect; several really hot days on the trot, then a sudden cool spell. I keep forgetting you have to turn our power points on. Some things seem cheaper since I was last here, some more expensive.
Two days later …
It’s just gone 6am and der Lüdde and I are in the kitchen. His wake up time has gone from 6am to 5am, and he isn’t a quiet child – he’ll be on stage one day – so he gets spirited out of our room the moment he wakes. Now we’re watching trashy morning TV and watching the sun get higher. It’ll be a hot one today, in fact all the breakfast TV shows are warning of an impending heatwave. A heatwave here is something a little different to your German Hitzewelle.
We beat the kookaburras this morning, which means der Lüdde is able to say ‘burra’ every time one of them starts laughing. It’s one of his many news words (another is ‘roo’, very necessary) and it feels like the kids are springing along at a rate I can’t keep up with. There is something about being out of routine and rhythm that makes it seem, perhaps erroneously, that they are changing before my very eyes.
I’m getting better at remembering to check for spiders under drying beach towels, or in shoes that have been left out. We’ve had the ‘Germany v Australia’ conversation for the 190th time and resolved for the 190th time that, yes, Germany is right place for us right now, even though Australia is so beautiful and the supermarkets – oh I love the supermarkets – are better the food is so good. Germany vs Australia is a conversation that has always defined, and always will define, our relationship and now our family. And that’s okay.
Where we’re staying is less of a beach, more of a bay, so the kids are in the water everyday, die Lüdde bobbing around. We’re getting through obscene amounts of watermelon and who knew the Quetschtüten over here were so big and pure Greek yoghurt goodness. The birds are loud and bright and we’ve adopted a baby bush turkey, or he’s adopted us. There’s sand, coffee and wine everywhere. And cicadas, always the chorus of cicadas.