She Landed With Her Bum In The Butter

I drove solo from my parents to the beach house last night, four hours of nothing but me and the radio. No toilet stops, no begging for hot chips as we drove past the Blanchtown service station, and no complaints about seating arrangements and music selection. A delightfully boring drive.

When I arrived at the house I brought my bags inside and marvelled at its peace. The wind was at its coastal brilliance, howling down our driveway, but from the moment the front doors were closed I experienced the cosiness that a night in on a winter’s evening provides. I poured a glass of wine, took some cheese out of the fridge and removed the lid from the pate. There would be no peeling of vegetables, no oven setting, no lining up of knives and forks with assigned plates. There was just me, an episode of Offspring and a glass of wine.

I have doctor’s appointments lined up for Friday and Monday, neither will be fun – but tonight will. A group of girls will come and join me at the restaurant down the road for a night of brilliant food and well thought out wines. We will all sleep at the beach house tonight, the little travellers beds will be filled in their absence. As one of the little travellers pointed out – it’s my turn to have a sleepover.

I could not do any of this without Granny Max. Any of it.

It was our choice to leave ‘home’. When we did we were childless and completely clueless to what having a family away from home would mean. Perhaps that’s why we did it without hesitation. Perhaps it’s because my general nature is to just assume that everything will work out – because it always has. My girlfriend Erika introduced me to the phrase of “she landed with her bum in the butter”. It was one of those splendid expat moments when someone uses a phrase you’ve never heard but immediately know what it means. I loved it.

We’ve been lucky, so lucky. In each location my bum landed well and truly in the butter. With rough entries and some very lonely days in between, we’ve somehow always found our feet when it came to help. And when I say help I not only mean friends, I mean people we’ve hired for child care. I have a list in my head, women who I’ve had to hand my baby to in a time of crises. Women who have looked after one baby while I’ve gone into hospital to have another. Women who have pretended not to have seen the first steps while I was at the office. For us there’s never been a one day a week at Granny’s. Granny doesn’t come to stay for the weekend so we can shoot off to Sydney or have a weekend at the football in Melbourne. And for those you who haven’t had it, who’ve never had parental support, I salute you. Not just for getting through it – but for not killing the friend who just told you that “Mum popped in while I went out to do the grocery shopping and when I came home she’d done the ironing.”

In certain countries we’ve had home help, in others we’ve hired a Nanny, and in some locations we’ve been on our own. All of these experiences have taught me one thing. There’s nothing quite like a Grandparent. Not just for the children but for the parents who find they can drive away with complete peace of mind. I only get that here, in Australia.

When it comes to family, I landed firmly with my bum in the butter.

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