Since I last posted, my brain has been flooded with ideas about what I could write about next. My husband has been quoting misdemeanour after misdemeanour in the hope of inspiring this post. Yet they all felt a little bit too… contrived. Who could possibly believe that I could break my wrist slipping and falling down the loo (actually down it, broke it on the u-bend) or that we had to take my husband (at the age of 28) to the minor injuries unit after getting the rubber on the end of the pencil, stuck in his ear. I would never expect anyone to think that inviting a canvassing Nick Clegg into your living room (in 2005) because you thought he was the man who you’d booked to clean the carpets, could actually happen to anyone.
Hi – we are those idiots.
Rather than bore you with the details of those self-explanatory incidents of stupidity, I feel like I should redeem us into some level of respectability. But our friends and family (likely to be the only people reading this anyway) will be nodding, smiling and shouting furiously at the screen naming the even more stupid incidents that I’ve yet failed to mention.
This is not an invitation to join forces and share these.
So we’re embracing it. Living life the stupid way is pretty liberating and talking about it, I hope, will make us all feel a bit better.
Since I’ve had my children I’ve definitely stopped taking myself so seriously. Most days I rarely have time to brush my hair, let alone any deep thoughts beyond things like: ‘did they have tea? Or was lunch just so awful my brain assumed it was 2 meals?’ And, ‘who’s poo’d?’ Once you can hold an adult conversation about something very sensible like mortgage rates (yes, I know I don’t do this, but I could… if I wanted to) whilst walking a full circuit of a room and picking up and smelling the bottom of every child without pausing for breath or sensing the need for embarrassment or an explanation – I think you have to celebrate the fact that you now have an entirely new set of skills.
Skills I used to have:
Punctuality: I was NEVER late
The ability to confidently walk out of my house knowing I wasn’t wearing my slippers
I could hold a conversation with one person at a time, uninterrupted, using full sentences, a full range of questions and answers
I was good at getting up in the morning, deciding what to wear, wearing it and leaving the house
Understanding the true meaning of ‘It’ll end in tears…’
The ability to sleep: anywhere, any time of day
Knowing I can get ready for a night out in 15 minutes. Or just leaving the house for a night out without the ‘getting ready’ part, because I’m so excited about the ‘night out’ I don’t care that I’m wearing enough dribble and snot, that if you grew my clothes in a petri dish you could probably find the cure for the common cold.
Feeling assured that my negotiating skills are now so finely tuned that should I find myself in the unenviable position of say, Sandra Bullock’s character in Speed, I could, before the first death, have had the terrorist weeping and penitent on some kind of step and the bus in complete calm unison harmonising their way through a rendition of The Wiggles’ Big Red Car
The inability to pass a field of farm animals without pointing it out to the entire car, regardless of whether there are children, or indeed anyone in the vehicle with me.
Knowing the entire script of the Toy Story trilogy
Knowing the devastating consequences of ‘they’ve gone quiet…’
Developing a second language of ‘toddler speak’
Forgetting I don’t have to use that language when only adults are in the room.
Lying, compulsively about the benefits of broccoli
Lying, compulsively about the painful ways in which you can meet your maker if you DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR MUMMY
I’m sure my husband has a more extensive list, even more impressive, that he could catalogue simply with the heading ‘Dealing with my wife’. That’s for another day though.
I joked at work recently that I could complete a PhD in ‘filling out candidate sample request forms for our exam board’ (I’d specialise in 2005-2014, obviously) but in actual fact, my PhD could easily be in another area: ‘charting the improvement of my Scottish accent in reading the Gruffalo’s Child from 2009 – 2014’. ‘The correlation between hot food hitting the plate and my youngest daughter waking up and screaming until we bring her downstairs’ (to ruin said meal), or what about ‘an investigation into the amount of questions you can cram into the time taken to reverse out of the drive’. I would quite like my children to rigorously assess the last one, imagining them delivering scathing looks at the results analysis stage and pooh-poohing candidates’ lack of staying power and commitment to the task:
Son: But did you ask what she was going to cook you for tea? At 7:30am that really fries her brain, her driving slows right down giving you more time.
Daughter: Why didn’t you ask the same thing 15 times without pausing for a response? She always applies the brakes when she turns round to tell you off. Sometimes she puts the blinky ‘we’ve had a crash’ lights on so that the people in the road don’t get cross. That gives you just cause to ask about every control on the dashboard.
But, on this glorious Friday, this isn’t simply about being the parent of young children, this is also a message to those that work bloody hard, day in, day out for something they love/care/feel passionate about. Today, is about raising a toast to feeling a bit mediocre, sometimes inadequate, tired and massively overworked – let’s laugh about it and decide what mishaps we’re going to celebrate next week.
Because the only reason you feel like that is because you’re trying your damned hardest to do the best job you can. Well done, have a biscuit or even better, a gin and tonic.
(And if your doorbell goes, don’t forget that carpet cleaners don’t generally carry pamphlets and wear a suit and a yellow tie. And that politicians aren’t generally interested in the stain by the window where you spilled a glass of wine.)