You can only do your best and I have no delusions that I was the best mother. There were numerous failings. There still are. But I was good enough. And that’s all I needed to be. I tried. I got it wrong sometimes. Got it right sometimes. I meant well, even if the results weren’t always what one might have hoped. But I have never been one to beat myself up over my inadequacies. Life’s too short.

We had three children under four and life was a bit of a blur for a few years. But it was with much anticipation we bundled them all in to the car and set off for a villa in France. Accompanied by my parents who were coming along for the ride and as live in babysitters for a couple of evenings over the fortnight. Or that was the plan at least.

We got the ferry across and drove to Hotel des Bains in a tiny village called St Jean le Thomas in northern France. We had chosen it without the benefits of google but on the basis of the old style yellow Auberge and Logis guides that hubby would assiduously study. The hotel was small and family-friendly and had a swimming pool so the kids disembarked and splashed around straight away. Ah bliss, this is the life.

Our rooms were across the narrow road from the main hotel in a converted coach house kind of thing – the kids all sharing one large room with its own ensuite and us next door.

They would probably have been two, four and five. We got them ready for bed and read stories, and left them happily reading or playing in their beds. Hubby went up about 15 minutes later to switch the light out and they were all fine. The two big ones reading and the baby talking to herself. He locked the door behind him so that they couldn’t inadvertently wander out on to the road, and no one could wander in and he returned to our restaurant table which was literally fifty feet from their bedroom door. Probably less distance than there was if we had been sitting in the garden at home and they had been in their own beds.

I went up about 30 minutes after that and was faced by complete mayhem. I could hardly get in through the door for a sobbing, inconsolable middle daughter who was terrified beyond words or reason because it was dark and she couldn’t open the door. We’d thought locking the door was the safest option but it had utterly terrified her. It took me over an hour to calm her down with stories and stroking and staying in the room. Every time I tried to leave when I thought she’d drifted off the wailing would start again so I gave up and plonked myself on the floor after I’d sorted the other two out.

The five year old boy was oblivious – bouncing on his bed, unperturbed by his sister’s wailing . And he was happy enough to get back in to bed as directed. The two year old was not in the bedroom. The son told me she was in the bathroom. I found her in the ensuite happily drinking from the bidet. She thought it was great – a personal toddler-sized water fountain and she was completely soaked from head to toe. But smiling at least.

once we got to the villa

once we got to the villa

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