Stress packing up to set off- not because of toddlers, nappies, high-chairs and travel cots. Twenty years later the stress derives from the girls' work schedules - both were due to check in to the family home the evening before we were to set off. One did, but late in the evening. The other texted to say she had to work late, and would we pick her up from the railway station in our home town at 08.50 the next morning. We were due to be in Manchester for lunch with mother-in-law at 12.30. And the daughter who had managed to get home was still in bed at 08.15. The stress was considerable, but we made it, had lunch, and arrived at the holiday rental by early evening.
As with almost every family holiday I can remember, the day we travelled, cooped up in the car (and in the lunch venue) was our best day weather-wise. Glorious, 100-watt sunshine and 26 degrees.
The following day the temperature dropped 15 degrees, and in the next week it rained almost every day for varying periods of time.
We even went to Ambleside to buy water-proof trousers for the girls, just as we did 14 years ago. The difference was that this time they paid for their own water-proof trousers, and they enjoyed the longish walks we went on, instead of moaning the whole time that their legs were tired and that it was boring.
One member of the family party is ill or suffers from some health problem on nearly every family holiday - this time it was younger daughter, whose digestive system rebelled. We think it was sheer exhaustion from having been under continual stress at work since Christmas, and the sudden complete relaxation.
We did home cooking in the holiday rental five nights out of seven. The difference was that husband did all the cooking, and I did not feel one iota of guilt. I had told him I didn't mind eating in as long as he did the cooking. My new, much more high-powered job is the reason for this. (No longer can I be typecast as silly old mum who does a poxy little part-time job, more of a hobby really, and can always be treated as the family doormat).
This sense of empowerment extended to standing up for myself later in the week when younger daughter tried her usual trick of rudeness, laziness and completely selfish behaviour. I told her she was a little bitch. I am not proud of this, but neither did I feel the shame and guilt I would have all the time I was just a home-mummy, as she called it. I stuck by what I had said, and I think she got the message. Her behaviour improved.
So - some aspects the same, but some changes for the better. We may well book another self-catering family holiday next year.