I just got a message from my high school pal, Theresa. We haven’t caught up in yonks, so it was a bit out of the blue. As it turned out, the reason she was getting in touch was that she had a baby a few months ago, and wants me to come and meet it. I was mildly put out – just for a second – that she hadn’t thought to get in touch with me before the baby was born, but I got over it pretty quickly and agreed to visit her in Lorne next weekend.
I’m not especially keen to stay with Theresa, even though she’s thoughtfully offered me a fold-out couch. I mean, she has a four month-old baby and a hubby I’ve never met. No thanks! I’ll find my own accommodation. It’s a nice little opportunity for a drive down the Great Ocean Road, actually – a mini break away from Melbourne. I’m thinking I’ll splash out on a luxury holiday apartment. Lorne must have something like that on offer, with a view to boot.
I know the whole point is for me to meet the bub, but I wonder if she’ll agree to meet me for dinner and drinks sans baby. Maybe we can squeeze in some day spa action before heading out for some local seafood and a few cheeky cocktails. I’d love to go for a walk up the coast to the lighthouse as well, or down to Erskine Falls. The last time I was around Lorne would have been for the coffee-roasters conference last year – I’m always a fan of that crew’s penchant for conference venues on the coast. Victoria hasn’t got as many of these as NSW does, but it has its own charm.
Now that I’m thinking about it, it seems pretty clear that I’m in dire need of a coastal getaway. I should probably separate that out from my long overdue social catch-up, but it’s not my fault that that’s to take place in an idyllic beachside holiday town. Gotta make the most of that!
Over the weekend that was, I had to work.
Perhaps, in my twenties, when career projection was at the front and centre of my list of things to do, I wouldn’t have minded so much. I can tell you that I minded a lot when I had to spend the weekend away from my girls. I suppose any mother can relate, but for those who aren’t parents, please, allow me the opportunity to spell it out for you. Being away from your children, your babies, is the worst. It can sometimes even feel like a form of punishment. This is especially true when your children are still young. I already work really long hours and spend a far too much time away from my girls, but the weekends are supposed to be our time. When a “voluntary” conference takes up your whole weekend, it’s a gross injustice.
What makes it slightly better, the two-day function is to be held in one of those new-age type conference centres in Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road of all places. The two-hour car ride essentially eliminated all possibility of sneaking home for dinner to squeeze in a little quality family time. When I met with my boss to ask for a little special treatment given my family situation, I was told flatly that my presence was needed for both days.
I realise I’m making this out to be the worst thing in the world, so, in the interest of fairness, I should tell you plainly that i wasn’t. Again, if I was in my twenties, I would have relished the experience. The problem was that not even the luxury accommodation and the Great Ocean Road setting could assuage my sense of homesickness. All I wanted to do was run home. Even the highlights of the conference itself, the company triumphs that my hard work helped bring about, were curbed by that sense of longing to be with my family. If only I’d been allowed to bring my husband and kids with me. They would have adored Lorne and it’s stretch of gorgeous beaches as far as the eye can see.