Driven to distraction

Driven to distraction

Driven to distraction

First published in Mum At Large

ONE of the reasons, I’m sure, that human beings were designed to grow up with two parents and not one was so that there would be someone else available to share the driving.

Now into my fifth week of singlehandedly ferrying a husband-witha- broken-leg and assorted sons to their various appointments, social engagements and sporting fixtures, I’m on the road so much, my feet have barely touched the ground.

Although one of the boys can drive, insurance companies charge such ridiculously exorbitant rates for younger drivers that getting him to help me out would cost more than hiring a Bentley with a chauffeur.

So, when it came to heading off on our family holiday on the west coast of Ireland, I was stuck with all the driving, including a mind-numbingly tedious five-hour stretch to the ferry in Scotland, then another fourand- a-half hour drive across Ireland to the west coast.

By the time we got to our holiday cottage, I was shattered. But the boys all reckoned they had it worse than me: “At least you had something to do. We were all crammed in the back, bored out of our minds,” they complained.

On the way back, thanks to roadworks and other delays, the journey was painstakingly slow. Having set off at 8am, we finally made it home at 8.30pm that night.

I vowed that I would never get behind the wheel of a car again.

“You need to take me to my fracture clinic appointment at the hospital,” my husband-with-thebroken- leg reminded me first thing in the morning. “And I have a physiotherapy appointment tomorrow.”

One of the boys had to get to the station, an hour’s drive away, for 7pm. “And don’t forget about my football training on Saturday,”

11-year-old Albert piped up. “And we have an away match on Sunday.”

There followed a series of bookings for hair appointments, meetings with friends, trips to the cinema and shops. The 15-year-old even put in a pitch for a party finishing at 1.30am: “Please Mum, please? Everyone else is going. It’s too far for a taxi and there’s no one from round here going. You’re my only hope.”

My most frequent customer is, of course, the husband-with-a-broken leg. And one side effect of transporting him around for a month is that I am treated to a constant running commentary on my driving skills.

Or lack of them.

Because, after 25 years of driving, thanks to him I have now realised that I am, apparently, doing absolutely everything wrong.

In only a few more weeks, he should be able to drive himself, and the rest of the boys, about again. I am counting down the days...

AS we set off for a small island in a remote corner of the west of Ireland, without wi-fi, phone signal or television, I predicted in my last column that it could be the best or the worst holiday we’d had.

I wish I could report that the boys, once unplugged, rushed outside to enjoy simple pleasures, commune with nature and learn that the best things in life are free.

Sorry to report that the older three, displaying obvious signs of withdrawal, spent much of their time moaning and groaning about being dragged to this “Godforsaken place in the back of beyond” in between occasional trips to the mainland for intermittent digital fixes.

In their defence, they were trying to sort out accommodation and job applications, which is difficult without the internet nowadays.

The younger two, who spent most of their time in their wetsuits in the sea, weren’t so bad. But, ever since the Irish economy bombed, lots of businesses along the coast have shut down and we soon discovered there are no longer so many attractions to visit or places to eat out.

And then it started to rain, heavily. For days on end: “Thanks, Mum,” they moaned in unison. Other than that, we had a great time…

  • Follow me on Twitter @Mum_at_Large

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