Speaking up for today’s woman

Me and the kids, in Whitby
Me and the kids, in Whitby
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We took the kids on a trip to the seaside this weekend.

For weeks they’d been so excited – all but had their bags packed by the door.

Giddy as a pair of kippers, they were – aptly enough, as Whitby, home of the best hand-smoked kippers in the whole world, was our destination.

Not that the kids cared where we went. All they really wanted was a bit of sunshine, seeing as they’ve been cooped up inside for months.

Even though it wasn’t warm enough for a trip to the beach, we did get sunshine in buckets and spades.

Cripes, the sheer bliss of being able to drive with the window down for the first time in 2013. The elation of being able to take your scarf off. We felt like we were free.

Determined to make their stay as educational as possible, we went to the museum to see dinosaur fossils and relics brought back from distant lands by Captain Cook and his crew. Hours, we stayed – and they were spellbound.

We did the open top tour bus AND the steam bus, ice creams and fish and chips, the Abbey... even out to sea on a mini replica of the Endeavour.

They got tired from time to time, what with all that sea air. But they kept up, didn’t dawdle and never fell down once.

Neither were there any tears, even though we studiously avoided the amusement arcades and didn’t buy a single stick of candy floss.

Come the drive back on Sunday they were quiet as church mice in the back of the car. I glanced at them a couple of times and I swear they were close to nodding off.

We told them they had been a pleasure to be with – so beautifully behaved. Though well they should be at their age.

For kids read Mother, whose age I’m not allowed to mention lest someone deem her old, and my stepfather, 83, bless.

We hadn’t fully realised before we set off that the time had come for us to assume the parental role.

Those two, adventurers to the core, have always been so young at heart and fiercely independent.

They’ve travelled the world – just last year they holidayed in Vietnam. But there has been a shift since then.

My stepfather is quietly and stoically coping with a serious illness and mum is doing a fabulous job of looking after him.

We knew they needed a break – and that going with us would make it less stressful.

Plus these last few months there’s been a shift in me, too. I’ve had to admit to myself that I won’t always have them in my life. That they’re not invincible.

So, willingly, we did the nurturing, the minding of their steps. Urging them to put coats on, then helping to take them off again. Putting them in lifts and on buses. Fastening seatbelts, physically and metaphorically.

It was pay-back, done with love – for all the myriad of things they have willingly and lovingly done for me.