Something Smells, Oh Damn It’s Me
I smell something… oh damn it’s me. I hope no one else can sense that I haven’t showered in days. The girl standing next to me in the shop tickles my olfactory sense with… what… oh, that’s just soap and shampoo. I often wonder why it is that the more kids I have the less I shower. I think I’m just as dirty (if not dirtier) than before, and of course I understand there are less opportunities than before kids (hereafter referred to as “BK”) because I don’t enjoy showering when the kids are about as they are likely to jump in with me. And please don’t suggest to me to get up earlier in the morning, that just won’t fly.
There are so many things that have changed since having kids, waist line, purse line, hair line, and let’s not go to the lines on my face. Mostly I don’t mind. Except when I see my girlfriends who don’t have children. Yes those with their undamaged bodies, disposable incomes, and skin that is cared for. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, and I don’t envy them, I just feel so outcast when I’m with them. Maybe not exactly outcast, but now from very different worlds. I don’t know if they see me as I see myself when I’m with them, probably not, but recently when we sat down to a lovely civilised lunch in a cafe after a bit of shopping I felt like some kind of scarecrow – wearing a potato sack with straw in my hair. My friend is telling us of her recent business trip to Singapore. Business trip… hmmm… is that like going back to the shop to return the wrong coloured pencil case? Anyway, my girlfriend and her co-worker went shopping in town to Prada and treated herself to a $3000 purse. Can you even imagine? I sneak a glance at my $40 sack and cringe at the notion that I saw a beautiful bag in the shop the other day which I thought was too expensive at $89. Sheesh.
We chat, we laugh, it is so nice to spend time with the girls without little people to look after, shush, and be interrupted by every 30 seconds. For a minute I feel normal as lunch comes to an end and they pull out their smart phones to book in a date, I am too embarrassed to retrieve my diary and so commit it to memory (using a trick because my memory just ain’t what it used to be). As we are leaving 2 of my girlfriends decide to go and get their nails done and very nicely ask me along. I could think of a thousand other things to do with what it would cost me to get hand pampered. Well, unless it was my birthday, or mother’s day and a magic genie was taking care of the rug rats. I politely decline joining the mass manicure, knowing that I am off home to play with playdough.
Never in my life have I felt more different to these fabulous creatures that stand before me in high street fashion and designer sunglasses. I wonder if they will ever feel like me, the necessity of putting yourself at the very bottom of the pecking order. I love my life, I love my husband, I love my kids, and at the same time feel disconnected from the life I used to lead BK. But am I really this much out of the loop? Different loops I tell myself. I’m sure all mums and dads go through similar feelings at some point. Life just can’t be the same once there are people depending on you to clothe, bathe and feed them, and to teach them about the world and protect them from it.
One of my lovely girlfriends recently got a puppy and as she told me how draining it is to make sure he isn’t left alone for too long, I had to suppress a little giggle. Although I must add that having puppies these days seems more complicated than when I was little – our dog had puppies that just roamed here and there, no issues about keeping them away from potential germs and bacteria they aren’t yet used to. I suppose it is good training for what often follows getting married, getting a house and getting a dog. I can’t wait until she reaches that next step and her eyes are opened to the life I have lived for the last 6 years, I feel like my friends having babies would be some kind of revenge for me (sweet revenge!). Perhaps she will regret asking me just after (2 days) I gave birth to my 3rd kid – so how are you? Are you still in hospital feeling sorry for yourself? I have debated whether or not I will ask her the same question at the same time, but I won’t, I promise.
My friends say some funny stuff. Stuff that they don’t even know is funny. My friend who is a computer programmer would highlight to me the following. ‘He has a runny nose, have you been to the doctor?’ Or ‘Is he safe going down those stairs?’ or ‘Why isn’t she eating her food?’ And ‘What’s that smell?’ My sister (no kids yet) once said to me: ‘I am so busy right now, I think I’m busier than a woman with 6 kids!’ Well I’m sure if there is a mum of 6 out there they wouldn’t have any time at all to read this article, but if they did they would be swearing at the screen by now! Now, my sister is busy at University full-time and holding down 2 part-time jobs, and is flat out between 6am and midnight everyday. Her advantage is that she gets to sleep during those hours.
I have discovered a few good ways to resolve my issues… (I know for sure that they are MY issues and mine alone). I like to buy pretty and impractical shoes which although hurt my feet make me feel at least on par in the footwear department with the glamour girls. I also got myself a smart phone with a pretty case with sparkly jewels on it. So girly. And instead of wearing something that “will do” I adorn myself with the best clothes and accessories that I own when going out to meet them. Just because my hair is unwashed doesn’t mean I have to feel like my “fun, free and fabulous” life has gone forever.
I refuse to give up on myself, so I go into town to meet the glittery group for a drink, dinner and a make-up lesson repeating – I can be fabulous, I can be fabulous, I can be fabulous! In the cosmetics shop we are pampered, and it is lovely. Am told that due to my rosie complexion I will never look tired. I scoff. I have been exhausted for 6 years! On the odd occasion, there are remarks made that make my mind boggle with how much they have to learn in the parenting department. I laugh it off and don’t even bother to correct them. My friend informs the group of my 3 appendages, having never met most of the girls before. Later on another mother (of 1) makes a beeline for me wanting to talk and asking me all about the kids and that question that I get so often: “How on earth do you cope with 3?” All I can think is lucky I don’t have 4. But wait, no! I am in the zone! I don’t want to talk shop! I want to drink champagne and giggle about the etiquette of sending naughty pictures to a lover. But I give in and chat kids for a while, and then strategically place myself next to my bride-to-be girlfriend and talk seriously – shoes.
I am feeling in the loop, part of the glitterati, one of the girls, have been chatting to them all night like it doesn’t matter that I’m not the same BK chick I once was. As I look around me I realise something about the designer-wearing, conference-calling babes around me. One has had a massive breakout on her face due to stress at work, another is feeling the pressure of being single and over 30. A battle rages with good heath care and skin cancer for one of my closest, and another failed relationship for another beautiful girl. Hang on, wait a minute, these girls have some pretty serious problems themselves, I don’t know why I ever thought they didn’t. In my mind I suppose I had thought that if you had problems but were still skinny, powerful in your career and showered daily then surely the problems are easier to tackle. I think I’m wrong.
We all have stuff to deal with. Whether it’s an ear infected kid that can’t sleep, or a conference with an International Partner requiring a complete analysis and report for the quarter. Both cause a headache.
I walk behind the other girls with my friend so she can cry about her skin and she thanks me with her eyes. She pays for the taxi home and I thank her with mine. I remember that even through our differences, we are there for each other and we understand each other, and from here it would seem that the only big difference between us is that she gets to shower a lot more than I do.
By W. Darling
Copyright 2012 Mummy Weekly
Wendy Darling is a busy mum who often reflects on her life before kids (BK) and ponders just how dramatically life has changed.