Thursday, 28 February 2008

Episode 16 - Time spent playing is never wasted

‘Granny can we go in the pool please?’ asked Olivia as she passes the breakfast dishes to me for loading into the dishwasher.

‘I thought that you might like to go the beach today. Would you like Granny to help you build a sandcastle?’ I ask Grace as I lift her down from the work top. She’s been having great fun stirring the jam pot, apparently, she tells me, it makes the jam really sticky and she loves sticky jam. Judging by the amount of the strawberry jam on her face I don’t doubt it.

But Granny,’ says Olivia looking very solemn in a big sister kind of way ‘I promised Mummy that we would practice our swimming every day’

‘I’m sure that Mummy won’t mind, she wants you to do fun things as well’ looking at Olivia’s worried little face I add hastily ‘so why don’t we do both. We can have the morning at the seaside and then later when the weather is a bit cooler we can all have some swimming practice’

Olivia pondering the compromise for a minute then nods sagely ‘Grace likes the seaside, so maybe we should go’

If I didn’t know better I’d think that Olivia was frightened of upsetting her Mum, surely not. Sophie only wants what’s best for the girls. I’m just not convinced that she knows what the best is. Why does she think for example that the girls should only spend time doing sensible things like swimming practice or French lessons? Doesn’t she realise that children need time to play, make sandcastles and have fun. I’d love to think that if she could stop worrying about work for just one day and come to the beach with us we could all have a lovely time together. After all it isn’t just children who need to have fun, some adults could do with a lesson in letting go and being silly every now and again.

I know that Sophie’s career is important to her and I admire the way that she seams to be able to juggle the demands of her job with being a wife and Mum. It can’t be easy and I worry that maybe she is trying to do too much, but unless she starts putting some quality time aside for the girls they’ll have grown up before she has had a chance to enjoy them being little. They are at that wonderful age where every thing is new and exciting and if Sophie isn’t careful she’ll have missed it.

There’s plenty of time when they’re at home for swimming practice, not now when they’re on holiday. This week is a time for paddling and ice cream, picnics of sandy sandwiches and cricket on the beach.

Damn Sophie, if she wants her daughters to have swimming practice every day she can get in pool with them herself and not expect me to be the one who has to alter my plans to suit her. If she wanted a Nanny to look after Olivia and Grace while they are in Spain she should have brought Mary.


Sitting under the dappled shade of one of the few trees that edge this beautiful beach and watching the girls building sandcastles with two the little Spanish boys they’ve befriended I sigh contentedly. This reminds me so much of Sophie and Ella when they were this age. We used to spend hours on the beach finding shells and racing down to the waters edge to collect water for the moat that I would dig around their lopsided sandcastles.

While the girls are playing happily I take the opportunity to look again at my party checklist and make a mental note to phone the golf club later. Everybody has now replied to the party invitations so I can tell the club chef to cater for 150 for the finger buffet. The cake is being delivered to the club on Saturday morning and the florist supplying the table flowers and balloons has confirmed the order. The only thing I have to do is to collect the watch that I have bought for his present. I’ve had it engraved, With All My Love

I do love him, I know that might sound strange after what happened with Paolo the other week, but I really do. I can’t imagine what life would be like without Martin. We have our differences sure, and the past couple of months have been difficult. And I’ll admit that maybe I have become a bit set in my ways since we moved out here but then again Martin isn’t the easiest man in the world to live with.

This week with Sophie and the girls has been the wake up call that I’ve needed. I haven’t had time to worry about what Martin is up to in London or even time to worry about that day with Paolo. I’m not in denial, I know what Paolo and I did was wrong but it was a one off and we both know that it will never happen again not because we don’t have the opportunity but because I don’t want it to.

I’m determined that Martin is going to have a wonderful birthday surrounded by his family. And afterwards when the party is over and the girls have gone home I want us to spend some time together, like the old days. I’ve made up my mind to ask him to cut back on his work and spend less time in London. Let’s face it, money isn’t everything. Our marriage is more important to me than how much we have in the bank. With the investments Martin’s made over the years and if we sold the flat in London I’m sure that we would have more than enough for a very comfortable life together.

So that’s the plan, a party to remember and the chance for us to start planning a new life together. Martin isn’t going to know what’s hit him….