This image might be weird but it struck me as kind of poignant. Look at all those beautiful Disney princesses. Languishing on the top of the toilet. Once destined to live happily ever after, dancing with princes and getting enthusiastic forest creatures to do their housework for them. Now they have to sit on the back of our toilet so they can keep my 4 year old company when she goes for a poo.
Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it. I know that when I imagined being a mother, very little of it matched the reality that I now find myself in. Like the Disney princesses, I find that I have way more to do with poo than I’d choose.
Side note from my brain: “Are you seriously writing a blog post about poo? Don’t you remember the time that you hid your colleague’s Facebook posts because she was always describing the contents of her baby’s nappy? What the hell has happened to you? Have some self-respect!
Fantasy v reality
Before my daughter, Elysia, was born 4 years ago, I pictured a pink Moses basket swinging happily in the corner. Fluffy pink dresses and matching knickers (for the baby, in case you’re wondering…). Cute babbling noises.
I wasn’t prepared for the red-faced screaming for 6 hours a day (both of us this time). The pink dresses encrusted with baby sick after never-ending breastfeeding sessions where she only stopped guzzling when her stomach physically pushed the milk back in her face. And mine half the time. Sleeping (ha!) bolt upright in a tatty M&S dressing gown for two months because Elysia wouldn’t go anywhere near the super expensive moses basket, preferring to snuggle her tiny body into the crook of my arm.
I always imagined I’d have two children. And they’d grow up to be like Jane and Michael Banks from my favourite childhood film, Mary Poppins. Practically Perfect In Every Way. I’m chuckling to myself as I contemplate my own innocence. I love my children to the ends of the earth. They have given my life purpose and meaning. I would die for them. But they are…how do I put this nicely?…a bit of a handful.
One of my favourite bloggers, the UnMumsy Mum, once upset the internet by posting a list of 10 reasons that toddlers were tossers. My mother was appalled. I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever read.
My children cry because it is bath time. Then they cry because it’s time to get out of the bath. They ask for tomato pasta then have a tantrum because it tastes too much like tomatoes. My daughter frequently threatens to find a new Mum because her Frozen plate is in the dishwasher.
They are tiny dictators who rule our house. During my years working in London I’ve worked with some fearsome characters. Directors who could bring grown men to tears with a roll of their eyes. I’d love to see how they got on with telling Blake that 5 episodes of Peppa Pig is more than enough for one day. Or explaining to Elysia that we’ve run out of raisins. Carnage. They’d need more than a copy of the Financial Times to hide behind.
A spoonful of sugar
No, motherhood is not as I’d imagined it. In some ways it’s a million times better. Dancing round the kitchen to Steps without being judged. Seeing the two tiny people that I grew in my tummy, cuddle each other tightly while watching TV even though they don’t know anyone’s watching. Proudly sitting in the front row as my daughter pretended to be a twinkling star in her preschool nativity (even if she did ask me for a snack DURING the performance).
I hang on to those moments when motherhood gets tough. Because it’s a mental and physical endurance test. And no-one prepares you for it. It’s like a secret club. When I meet a pregnant woman I want to warn them:
“Are you prepared not to read a proper book for the next few years?” (‘My child won’t eat’ and ‘Toddler SOS’ don’t count)
“Do you know that you’ll never be allowed to go to the toilet on your own again?”
“How many times do you think you can watch Tinkerbell the Movie without wanting to pull her wings off?”
My brain shouts these things loudly. But I don’t actually say them because a) it’s completely socially unacceptable and b) I’d lose all my friends and I need them to keep me sane when the kids are doing my head in.
It’s a kind of global conspiracy to ensure that the population continues. Anyway, it wouldn’t make a difference if I told them. I discovered all of the horrors of motherhood for myself when I had Elysia. And then I bloody well went and did it all over again. BY CHOICE. It appears that Mother Nature is a twisted cow…