Saturday, 29 October 2011

What happened to the sisterhood?

Is it just me or can motherhood present a whole, new world of bitchiness? This first became apparent to me in early pregnancy when the issue up for debate was discovering the gender of my unborn child. Or not in my case. On one occasion this was met with an "Oh no! I couldn't not have found out with mine! I suppose I must just be too organised!" And that would make me what exactly? Slovenliness is clearly not next to motherliness.

Nothing does the job of administering a back-handed compliment quite like the use of the double negative. Always the most effective when delivered in a patronising manner and when you're already struggling with your status as a 'stay-at-home mom,' 'full-time mother,' 'housewife?' "Gosh! You don't work! Good for you. I couldn't not work!" Well, just you wait there one second missy and I'll grab you that Nobel Prize for services to economics. Quick. Get back to work before your head explodes with the sheer gravity of your thoughts!

Motherhood presents innumerable opinions and choices and once those child-rearing decisions have been made, more often than not, they will be defended come hell or high water! Unless you're on friendly territory, I recommend steering clear of such emotive topics as the use of a dummy. As for breast versus bottle, you're on a hiding to nothing but flared nostrils, pursed lips and a sniffy retort.

What has the world come to when a new mum feels the need to justify why she's not breastfeeding her child, having only just told you her name? I grant you, this is peculiar to the strange beast that is the mother and toddler group. An often impenetrable, claustrophobic circle of one-upmanship, unless you're lucky enough to join a group of welcoming and warm women.

I'm pretty certain though that it's not having babies that brings out the harpy in us. I too am guilty of the occasional, smug, veteran mother comment, when what I should be doing is remembering how overwhelming having your first child can be. After all, do you know of a masculine equivalent of 'bitch,' with all it's incumbent connotations? So the next time someone says to you 'thank God for Cbeebies,' don't be a wanker by replying with a disdainful 'what's that then?'

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Baby got back!

Oh today is a happy day! After weeks of fruitless, pointless and often twisted, self-abusive attempts, I have finally managed to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans! Yes indeed! The fact that I grazed my hips and thighs in the process is neither here nor there and I'm sure that the welts on my skin will fade in time.

The trouble is there just seems to be a lot more arse to squeeze into a space that at one time was comfortably accommodating. Sadly, it appears that I have developed a back flange (picture a muffin top, but to the rear). Excellent! I have a fat back!

Needless to say, I took my jeans straight back off again, as it would appear that moving and breathing (let alone eating) are fairly fundamental to human existence. So I'm back in my combat trousers for the time being. However, whenever I wear these badboys, rather than cutting an edgy, directional figure, I look more as though I'm going hiking, but not very far at that. More in the direction of the local women's 'friendly hour' group. (Yep, we do have one of those where I live. I've read about it in the parish magazine).

And so, I wonder what you have to do to become the sort of woman who owns a capsule wardrobe? I'm a sucker for those prefatory paragraphs in catalogues, where you're encouraged to discover 'statement' or 'must-have' pieces and 'wardrobe staples,' that will take you from day to night and anywhere else you fancy, if you believe the claims. (I'm sure this is the reason why I have two, unused baby slings cluttering up my household. They had me at the merest mention of hemp, let alone the promise of organic nurturing).

So perhaps I'd better give myself a few more weeks before I give the jeans an outing, otherwise I'm in danger of walking as though I've shit myself. At the very least, I'd be sporting a very conspicuous camel-toe and I'd more than likely be giving myself a dose of thrush!

Friday, 14 October 2011

You can run, but you can't hide.....

I've read numerous articles in which women declare, almost certainly with a hand pressed stoically to their breast, how motherhood has made them truly understand what it means to be selfless. I, on the other hand, am more inclined to believe that it's made me realise that I'm pretty selfish. I want more of my own time and space. I'd like to be able to go about my business without having to placate various small people in the process. Quite frankly, I'd like to be able to have a shit in peace without the pitch of my voice reaching a little whine as I say 'mummy's just going to.....'

I find myself hiding in my own home. Skulking off to the kitchen to browse the net (always a thoroughly unfulfilling activity, but rebelliously selfish nevertheless). The trouble is these bouts of disengagement are always peppered with guilt. I should be interacting more with my children. Why am I not in the garden, creating something entertaining and educational out of mud and pine cones?

I do think that, more often than not, I'm setting myself up for a fall. Despite the benefit of real experience, I still persist with a ludicrous idyll of motherhood. I long for the serenity of the earth mother and obviously, I have to push this whimsy beyond the realms of all realism. I can just picture myself trekking through remote jungles, passing tranquil and intriguing hill-tribe villages. My baby blissfully secure in a tie-dye papoose and my son walking along beside me, perhaps even with the twinkle of another pregnancy in my eye and a dream of further adding to my tribe.

Of course, even I realise that the reality would be considerably different. I'd probably be sweating like the proverbial, red in the face, with a squawking toddler bashing me over the head with a plastic Buddha. I'm more likely to be found stomping, rather than skipping, through the buttercups, dragging my son behind me, screaming 'hold my hand!' It’s also just occurred to me that the woman in this tableau is about half a foot taller than I am with infinitely longer legs. As for her hair, it certainly doesn’t resemble the regional newsreader look I'm currently sporting.

I also don’t think it was particularly helpful at my NCT antenatal classes, when ideal images of motherhood were shown in the form of African tribeswomen breastfeeding infants whilst tending to a herd of goats. We were all already frightened enough by the prospect of maternal failure when the word epidural had been mentioned and had managed to be imbued with all the motherly qualities of Vicky Pollard. 

So, at the moment, the best course of action for me is to try and replace the leggy, ethereal beauty who wafts calmly through the often murky mire of parenthood, with a more realistic version of motherhood. Perhaps one whose thighs meet at the top? Let’s face it, we're not going to be modelling the latest organic offering nor herding goats any time soon. I think if I can just master the art of enjoying my days with a little more realism, a little less skulking and without trying to race to the end of them as unscathed as possible, then motherhood in all its resplendent reality may just be less of a stick to beat myself with.

Note to self: Must have sex!!

I don't think I can even bring myself to write down the number of months it's been since my husband and I last had sex. I'll put it this way. My newborn can no longer really be classed as such and his conception happened quite some time ago! I know, I know! Your gasps are almost audible!

I do still fancy my husband. I'm just not in the mood and I most certainly was not in the mood when I was pregnant and thankfully, nor was my husband! I don't think it was being down at the 'business end' at the birth of our first son that put him off, but rather my dogged adherence to the natural methods of inducing childbirth when my son's due date came and went and quite frankly fucked off on it's summer holidays!

Having gulped down one raspberry leaf tea too many, I enticed him into the bedroom with a 'come the fuck on then. Let's get this out of the way!' I appreciate now that comments such as 'don't touch my tummy, it's moving' and 'can you hurry up' are not particularly beneficial to the task at hand, but I wanted that baby out of me and I'd already been on a three hour route march and wolfed down a manky curry. Crikey! Hubby really must love me. Not only was I a lumbering grump-bag, I was clearly sweaty and stinky too! I blame the NCT mafia for instilling the fear of God in me at the prospect of being induced! Still, as hubby walked out of the bedroom, shielding his eyes and mumbling 'let's not speak of this again,' it was all a wasted effort, as I was induced a couple of days later!

It kind of makes sense that hubby wasn't remotely interested in my pregnant form this time round. Even so, just for shits and giggles, I would frequently put on a sterling show of  mock hurt at his rejection and disinterest, chuckling away merrily when he fell for it, guffawing 'don't be a loser. It saves me a job!' So it seems that I don't comply with that chapter of the pregnancy manual, in which an earthy health professional spouts on about how you may feel more aroused and sexually open during your pregnancy. Uh uh! Nope! Not me! Any mention of 'pleasuring' or 'stroking' and I couldn't help but make an audible gag!

A newly pregnant friend of ours, however, was recently expressing the opposite effect her pregnancy was having on her, much to the wide-eyed horror of my husband and when asked how her husband felt about it, he just said 'I don't know. I haven't really ever thought about having sex with pregnant women!' 'Thank fuck for that!' was the general consensus, 'that would make you a weirdo!'

And so I'm hoping the mood will eventually come over me (no pun intended). I could list the plethora of possible reasons for my sexual despondency; lack of sleep, excessive use of loungewear (and not in the sexy, edgy, carefree manner favoured by fashion-forward clothing catalogues), lack of personal grooming (both guilty on that front), tits that rest on my tummy, the inability to have an uninterrupted conversation let alone some 'quality' time together. I hate the term 'quality time!' Oh the pressure! Mediocre or cheap and cheerful time would be a start! And so the list goes on! It looks like I might just have to leave that note somewhere a little more prominent!