Since my foray into the world of motherhood, I’ve definitely gained a whole host of new skills. I can’t quite put my finger on them at the moment, but refereeing and extreme multi-tasking will be in there. I’m sure there are others *muses wistfully for a moment*.
However, in addition to the appreciation of independence which I took for granted, and being able to sleep properly, a number of life skills seem to have slipped from my arsenal. My children won’t be teeny forever, so regain these attributes I must.
In no particular order, then, here are a few simple areas that I need to work on if I’m ever to be deemed normal again by wider society.
Ah…long, lazy mealtimes. A dip of some bread here, a glug-glug top up of wine there, a discernible pause between courses. Hell, courses themselves. A grown up conversation, enacted in varying pitches to suit the subject matter. These days, I inhale my meals lest a small person lay claim to it before I’ve finished, shovelling “fuss free” food into my gob while simultaneously dousing down one or more children with a wet wipe. We barely clatter our cutlery to the plate before getting out the dustpan and brush, firing up the dishwasher and running a bath. When my husband took me for a birthday lunch recently (I’m still having meat sweats from all the venison), we’d finished three courses plus coffee within 90 minutes and had precisely fuck all to say to each other. I had to stop myself from inspecting his lap for crumbs (oo-er).
Reading and doing culture, innit
My Amazon wishlist has never known such lean times. I’m still plodding through my book purchases from 2012, I can’t concentrate for more than ten minutes, and I actively choose “dip in and out” styles of prose whereby all chapters are short and entirely self-contained. Poetry would be a good option, I suppose, as everyone knows that the best poems are concise…only they also involve rather a lot of interpretative buy-in from the reader and I ain’t got that at 10pm. I used to quite enjoy a hearty peruse through the Guardian of a Saturday, over a pot of tea and slab of cake. I’d take in 80% of the supplementary sections, favouring “Money”, “Family” and “Work”. Ho, I must have thought I could succeed in all three ideals! Child 1 arrived and I whittled my reading down to just “Family”, giving my husband “Sport” and chucking the rest in the recycling. Today, I scroll through the app on my phone once a month. I don’t think I’ve had the chance to cry at “A Letter To” this side of November 2015.
Loose lips sink ships
Discussing the fecal matter produced by one, two and sometimes even three of my household is frankly disgusting. Yet, I’ll quite happily hold court with casual mummy acquaintances at a baby group and natter away about teething poos, weaning poos, explosive poos, lack of poos, how to self-medicate lack of poos. Then I’ll move on to ruminate over engorged breasts, leaking nips, incontinence, lack of mojo, discharge, water infections, thrush, contraceptive methods and periods without batting an eyelid. Is nothing sacred anymore? Why do mums have to chronically overshare, and repeat the same conversations on a loop? In a way, I’m looking forward to not feeling duty-bound to ask if X is showing signs of crawling, or which Baby Sensory class Y goes to.
Remembering that the world is not a blogger
Admittedly, this one is entirely my own fault. But if I didn’t have children and endless, endless days of maternity leave (not actually endless but I can’t talk about that yet without feeling sick), then I wouldn’t have started a mummy blog in the first place now would I? My failing is that I assume EVERYONE has an interest in my blog, from the pizza counter lady in Sainsbury’s to the bloke in the bank. Everyone has surely heard of me by now, especially the mums at the groups because they’re my target fucking demographic. Recently, a real-life pal, not in my target fucking demographic, unfollowed me on Twitter. I allowed my feathers to be ruffled for a while before I scrolled through everything I’d tweeted that morning. Jesus Christ, I must have turned into one of those people whose news feed makes your eyes roll. It’s one thing to enjoy your art, but quite another to ram it into the wider world with all the subtlety of an axe. When I’m released back into civilization proper, I must not brandish my logo’d pen everywhere and attempt to slip business cards into unsuspecting pockets. All the world’s a stage, and I must respect my fellow performers.
Dry eyes in every house
I’d estimate that I’m about 1.5 seconds away from breaking down into floods of tears at any given moment. I’ve always been quite, er, emotive, but these days it takes very little to set me off. Old, doddery people holding hands. Key changes. Daydreaming about the birth of my children (which I do, daily). Other babies. Masterchef. Yesterday, I found a fiver on the path walking to our local shops. One of the brand new ones that look fake. I contemplated how many packs of Maltesers I could buy with it before deciding to pay it forward, and I gave it to Mouse to give to the nearest homeless man. She asked me why he was sat on the ground “wearing a blanket” and I started to tell her that some people don’t have a bed to sleep in at night, and aren’t we lucky. I couldn’t even finish the sentence without getting choked up. See, I’m off again now. It’s not that I need to toughen up as such, I just need to develop a slightly better reflex action to make the tears pipe down before they hit the surface. I need to figure out where my emotional stopcock is, if you will. Or just take to wearing massive shades everywhere.
How about you – is there anything you need to re-learn, after realising that mummying has commanded a paint stripper effect on your balls?
-SJW October 2016