Updated: Feb 27, 2020
I had a recent bout of ill health recently. When I am going through a bad spell I don’t talk about it with anyone which I know pisses some friends off and is hard for people to understand. But when it hits, it hits, and it is just a matter of getting through each day and focusing quite literally on one step at a time. When I get through it, I am hunky dory and my ability to communicate returns. It is something that I am fully aware of. I should address it, but when a bad day hits, well fuck it, it hits like a burning freighter train going at high speed with no brakes.
When I am unwell it reminds me that I miss being selfish. Motherhood is one of those things that takes away selfishness more than anything else. I fucking miss being selfish. There were moments when I did not want to be patient and kind and listen to endless streams of prattle. During my morning walks, all I wanted was silence. I craved it like I used to crave a bacon sandwich on white bread. Rissie is going through a stage of being extra talkative and all I wanted was peace and bloody quiet. I vividly imagined in my head duct taping her mouth shut with a scary amount of fucking duct tape to achieve the silence I so desperately craved.
Then when you get home, there are school lunches to pack. After school and work there is the bloody homework and the daily grind of home-readers. It never stops. Washing, making dinner, reminding the kids 6 billion times to turn their clothes inside out before they put them in the washing machine and to get their pyjamas ready before they have a bath. Filling the hot water bottles, waiting for Archie to rearrange the seam of his sock so that it doesn’t irritate his delicate sensibilities. I would stand there and in my head steam was coming out of my ears as he rearranged his fucking sock for what seemed like ten fucking years. “How can it take so long to rearrange your sock?” I wanted to scream. “Just pull the darn things on, put on your boots and bloody let’s go.”
I have realised, with the gift of hindsight that my 20’s were amazingly and gloriously selfish. I travelled extensively, I had jobs where I put on lipstick and wore a suit, I took clients out to lunch at Harvey Nichols 5th floor. I could drink my way through an evening, and still go to work, or alternatively sleep until midday before having an early afternoon breakfast before starting all over again. When I wanted to go to the movies I just did. I did not have to spend my life in toilets waiting for someone to pee for the 13th time or to check out the soap dispenser because sometimes soap dispensers require as much attention as the bloody seams of socks.
I did not have to smile and listen to a story that I had heard 64 times before that month, or listen to the same knock-knock joke and still have to laugh at the bloody stupid ending. Sometimes I feel like saying to them, “that’s not bloody funny, now I will tell you a funny joke, it goes something like this….” But I refrain from doing that, because it would be mean and because they don’t need to know that their mother can swear like a pirate and has a library of incredibly profane jokes inside her head.
For a few weeks, I did a lot of imagining in my head – I was a mean, nasty, incredibly selfish, arsehole of a mother. In my head that was. And for some strange reason that seemed to get me through.
So, what is a girl to do when she is craving being selfish and dealing with a million different personalities in her head who are cruel and foul mouthed? Go visit the Tenterfield Baker of course. I needed some Turkish bread and I needed it badly. I also needed some hummus. I bought two loaves because I knew I would eat one in the first sitting. I got back to the house, made some hummus and sat there begrudgingly sharing my feast with Archie. I was grateful that Rissie was at a birthday party as sharing it with one person was enough.
We got to the last piece and Archie and I were eyeing it off. When I got to it before he did he actually had the hide to say, “I can’t believe you are having the last piece mummy!” I smeared it with hummus, shoved it in my mouth and ignored him. That tiny little bit of selfishness absolutely made my day.