On a day near the 26th November, back in about 1988, I had a Day To Remember.
It was a birthday present from my husband, and it was a Day Off.
The plan was that for the whole day I could do exactly as I pleased, leaving the two children (number 1 son, two-and-a half-years, and delightful daughter, fourteen months old) to the tender mercies of their father.
It took a certain amount of planning, writing out their schedule for the day, making sure that their clothes were all to hand and that there was everything that might possibly be needed. Then, on the Day, I got up early and caught the train to London.
I can remember almost everything I did that day;
visiting the fabric department at Liberty's and spending almost an hour deciding whether or not to buy a beautiful printed woolen shawl (I succumbed),
mooching around a little market beside St-Martin's-in-the-Fields where I bought an intricately carved jigsaw for the Main Man,
taking my time looking at everything in the Design Centre which was somewhere near Regent Street at the time (do you remember that it had a strangely curved street window?) and buying two more beautiful wooden jigsaws for the children
lunch, at a time of my choosing, in a place that I liked the look of, without reference to when other people might be feeling hungry, or what they might prefer to eat
an evening meal, again, eating what I wanted without considering anyone else
I returned home late in the evening to find that the children were tucked up in bed. I had spent the whole day as myself, not as wife, or mother, or as anyone else.
That day sustained me through years and years of humdrum everyday life. Let's face it - the people who actually ENJOY the never-ending cycle of food shopping, everyday meal preparing, laundry, ironing, hoovering, dusting, bed-making, are few and far between and I am not one of them. But groaning my way through all these loathsome tasks just made everything much worse. So, when the daily grind of all the never-ending, repetitive, dull and boring tasks that running a house entails threatened to get me down, I would cast my mind back to the velvet and brocades in Liberty's, or the little open-air cafe in a garden where I had lunch, or any of the other delights of the Day Off.
That was my "Respite Day", a momentary relief from being a full-time carer of our children. Everyone needs a Day Off, to enable them to return to the necessary work of day-to-day life with renewed energy and something to lift their spirits as they go about the normal daily round.