Disclaimer: this is a bit of a fan post combined with memories of early days with my boys. It’s honest. …I am going to warn you and not apologise for it.
It’s no secret that when I had my two children, I found parenting hard work. A long slog, morning to night, to midnight, to morning again. I did all the night feeds. I did all the nappies until I went back to work. I did most of the day care and I did almost all the bedtimes. All the songs, all the crafty things (and documenting them all here) all the stories. Or so I recall…I disappeared into the role of mother. Ex other half was told to do bath times (I wanted them to bond over something) and had no choice but to enter baby care land earlier with little one due to my advancing illness. I remember marvelling at those friends whose partners (and they called themselves partners) would volunteer to feed/wash/wipe/hold their (own) baby. And then sometimes if I was really lucky (or weepily desperate) they’d do it for me too. I have a very clear memory of the friend singing Edelweiss to Elder in a garden shed in order to get him to sleep while I was fed hot sweet tea by her partner, exhausted and at their house party sans husband because he was watching F1, resting after a hard weeks work. Poor thing.
If it seems I sound bitter it’s because I am, a bit. But more than that, I’m angry too. I look back at my blog posts and I remember toning it down because I thought I was wrong, disorganised and just not good mother material. I wanted to present a picture of a witty, educated cosmopolitan mother, wryly commenting on the challenges I was facing but always with a punchline delivered with the intention to reassure my audience that despite it all, we were all going to be ok.
I almost got away with it too. But reality has this awful habit of seeping through. and so now I find myself here, today, having had very little sleep but itching to write about the wonderful Audiobook that I have been listening to.
The protagonists are Fi Glover and Jane Garvey. I have always loved them both independently, hooked as I was on Radio 4 from an early age. Fi made her claim for goddess status when she described herself as ‘my little news pony’ which summed it all up for me, quite frankly. La Garvey is a ledgend. A friend was interviewed by her once. I was so jealous. And they both use the word ‘clearly’ in a way I have admired forever. Just the right balance of authority, humour and cynicism.
So, imagine my joy when I got to The chapter on parenting small children. Both hated the drudge, both struggled to fill those endless minutes, both saw soft play as the fourth emergency service. Fi in particular I identify with. She is the same age as me and so are her children. She tells how she lost her father very close before the birth of her son. I lost mine four weeks after little one was born. how I wish I’d had this book then. I had Racheal Cusk and my best friend, who called me from a windy cold beach in wales where she was sole parenting three small children to tell me it was ok to be miserable and that new parenthood was ‘just shit’ sometimes. And that was enough to get me through.
Anyway, if I could I’d be a cat and wind myself around the ankles of these women, purring my pleasure at finally finding my tribe. Is that weird? Probably but the sense of warmth I get from finally hearing many of my thoughts,worries and frustrations as well as joys being articulated and yes, validated, is indescribable. A blissful purr is the best I can do.
Life at stitch towers is taking another rocky turn. I will stick with it as ever and report from the front (did I mention my third goddess, Kate Adie ?) but in the meantime I will have these two in my back pocket to remind myself that I am not alone and I am not eccentric, touched or overly picky. I am a woman who can purr. And that’s a good thing.