|I had time to amble about taking pictures|
I'm talking about bratlag - similar to jetlag only less exotic. It's what happens when you leave your children for any period of time.
I was in London at Cybher which is a conference for women who blog. (While the event was marvellous, I'm currently pondering whether the concept is sexist.)
For almost two whole days I got to meet splendid new people, catch up with older ones, find virtual pals in the flesh, drink cocktails, learn things, look at interesting stuff and generally please myself. It was heaven.
I can never quite decide if the state of bliss is because of the intelligent, stimulating and indulgent things I was doing or because no one came to tell me something crucial while I was having a poo, no one wiped snot on me, no one got into bed with me and especially no one got into bed with me and started kicking me, I could have whole conversations without having to referee a squabble and, for once, I could do exactly what I fancied.
Of course, in the manner of all parents, there's a moment of paralysis when you wonder if you have actually lost the capacity to function in any mode that doesn't have a background housekeeping/caregiving/drool wiping energy drain going on in the background. Then you realise that, actually, you can. It is possible to decide what to do next without thinking about anyone else's need for food/sleep/homework completion/clean uniform for school. And it is sweet.
Anyhow, sweet and blissful it was. And from this place of content and sufficient sleep I thought of my charming children and how wonderful it would be to be reunited with them. I carefully chose gifts for them in the station, imagining their little eyes lighting up.
Bratlag takes a moment or two for symptoms to appear, but they usually manifest within half an hour of dropping your bag inside the front door.
Instead of three shining faces rushing to hug me. One turned up and he had pooed himself. When I found the other two, they flicked their gaze from the screen and grunted.
Later when they realised presents were in the offing they surrounded me - a three-person kettling system the Met could learn something from.
And then "Oh," as gift I bought in hope was put down in disappointment and never returned to.
Before long there was violence, squabbling, bogie exchange and someone bellowing through the lavvy door, behind which I'd fled.
The anguish felt at episodes such as these are what's known as bratlag. Mine is easing as the toddler is finally asleep after leading me what might be termed by a more polite mother "a merry dance".
Experts (ok, me) are working on the possible cause of this. Current theory holds that it's a form of parental amnesia that causes one to forget how unpleasant one's children can be. This effect increases with distance from the children and time spent away. The bratlag discomfort is simply the amnesia wearing off.
So far the only treatment is gin although suggestions are welcome.