because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Monday, 3 January 2011

I'm not exactly mother material.

The day after I got to Mum and Dad's for Christmas I got woken up quite unceremoniously. "Come on," Mama Jane yelled in my sleeping face, "Cilla next door is having a coffee morning for charity. She's made some dolls out of twigs that we've got to go and buy."

It wasn't a request.

I pulled on my super-skinnies, because this was- after all- before the fifteen pounds of Christmas food I was to consume over the final days of 2010, and smeared on the lippy. I'm normally just a lip balm kinda of a girl, but as much as attending a charity coffee morning for the middle-aged wasn't a request neither was, "Looking all pasty. You come over all washed out when you don't have colour on your lips." That was Mama Jane too.

(SIDE-NOTE: To save time and energy on my hair in the mornings, I regularly sleep with a braid in my wet hair so that with a bit of body mousse when I wake up I can rock a sort of Russell Brand-come-Tina Turner 'do that makes me feel surprisingly sassy-pants for how little effort I put into it. The one morning I spent thirty minutes blowing out and using GHD's on my hair to get it silky-smooth Mama Jane greeted me with, "I do like your hair... with some volume." Needless to say, I've spent the holiday season rocking the curls.)

(ABSOLUTE evidence that despite Mama Jane claiming that we've monopolised the telly for the holidays, SHE MONOPOLISES OUR LIVES. If Jane 'aint happy, then 'aint nobody happy.)

Anyway, long story short? At this coffee morning that I didn't even want to go to except for the fact that I might be able to laugh at the twig dolls, Mama's neighbour mentioned she was looking for a babysitter on New Year's Eve. You know, if we knew anybody, or anything. I looked right at her. "I'll do it," I said, knowing that the difference to my New Year plans would be the difference between her couch and mine.

"I'm sorry. What?" she replied.

"I'll do it," I said.

I couldn't figure out if the look on the woman's face was sheer horror at the thought of this manically-hair-styled, Heath Ledger as the Joker lipsticked alleged 24 year old was threatening to be near her eighteen-month old kid, or relief that the search was over. Maybe it was just worry for my social life.

"If you're sure?" she said. I reasoned that I had no plans, and that if I could help out a woman in need then I would. Why wouldn't I? The kid would be in bed, I wouldn't have to actually DO anything. Even on the day when I banged on the door of her house with a gusto I thought reflected my enthusiasm for the event she seemed unnerved by me. Like, why wasn't I planning to roll around in a gutter covered in my own vomit?

I know, lady. Even my own mother is disappointed in me.

So come the 31st of December and I had my bag packed for the long walk across the road. Party food? CHECK. Fancy pen and paper to write out highlights of 2010? CHECK. Laptop to watch ER on when suitable amount of reflection accomplished? CHECK. I was good to go. WHAT A PIECE OF CAKE, I thought.

I echoed this sentiment to the group of people who were doing the middle-aged version of pre-gaming at my destination. They seemed concerned as to why I wasn't pushed up against a local in the pub- a pub I went into for the first time this Christmas and had two hours of old men grabbing my bum and waist as they passed as if the place was packed and they could only navigate around my curves if they grabbed on to them. The jig was up when I finally turned around and saw the fifteen feet of space between my back and the bar. Excuse me indeed.

But instead of trying to infer their pot-bellied mates had groped me I went for the fail-safe line. "I just really believe that whatever you are doing when the clock strikes midnight is what you'll be doing all year," I said. "So I want to be writing."

One of them laughed. "Well let's just hope you aren't nursing a crying baby then!"

I smiled politely.

Mum and Dad gave me their assurances that baby probably wouldn't wake, that if she did I probably didn't need to go up, and if I decided to go and comfort her then all I had to do was wrap her in the duvet of the bed next to the cot and let her sleep there instead. Apparently, that calms her right down.

Hands up if you can see where I am going with this.

Ten minutes after the door closed for the night, baby started crying. "Oh," I thought, "She's self-soothing. She just likes the sound of her own voice." I mean, I can totally relate to THAT.

But as I stood in the open-plan kitchen listening to this kid get louder and louder through the baby monitor I suddenly thought, "Well they've only been gone a little while. What if they need to pop back for something and this kid is screaming because something is wrong and all I've done is turn up the telly to drown her out?" So I went to go and check. I wasn't being paid for my services but I didn't want social services on my ass. Not unless social services happens to be cute, tall, artistic, emotionally capable and with a higher IQ than me.

This kid FREAKED OUT when she saw me. Screamed. Got EVEN LOUDER. I put on my happy face and silly face and reassuring face, scooping her up and sticking out my tongue and showing her her reflection and pulling off her sleep suit and putting it on again and wrapping the duvet around her then moving the cushions and as I got hotter and hotter and more and more frustrated and then I realised I was making too much of a fuss and was probably making things worse. So I sang.

I'll give you a hot second to get the chuckles out of your system.

I panicked!

I sang, and simultaneously hoped that nobody did indeed pop back for a forgotten something because then they'd hear me repeating the first verse to Hit Me Baby One More Time over and over because my mind went a bit blank and I didn't know what else to do.

The punchline: it shouldn't have been singing.

This kid screamed and screamed again until I had another epiphany: THE NAPPY. IT HAD TO BE HER NAPPY, RIGHT?

Now, I have never changed a nappy before. And all I could think was to call my own mother for guidance but I figured a whole year of mockery ("AND SHE COULDN'T EVEN CHANGE THE NAPPY!") wasn't worth it. I could figure this out. No problem. Easy. I undid the poppers to the sleep suit and held up the baby by her underarms. She didn't smell bad. Well, I didn't think so. I asked her if she wanted changing. I'm pretty sure she said yes. Seemed to me that as long as I ended up with the blue tags at the front, no-one would ever be able to tell that I had done anything, even if I was doing it in vain.

I COULD NOT get those bastard blue tags to the front of the bastard nappy.

Hot, red-faced, and tears in eyes- and that was just me- I took the baby downstairs with me, nappy hanging half-way off. The movement seemed to settle her for a little while. By this time a good hour and half had passed and it was etching closer to midnight. I hadn't even written a letter to the universe yet OR ANYTHING.

As soon as I sat down with her on my lap she started crying again and as I leaned my head back on the sofa I thought to myself, "Yes. This is why I always said I would adopt 7 year olds." I tried giving her chocolate, did some more Britney, jostled her about a bit. Nothing. I wanted to scream.

Sod this for a bag of nuts, I decided. I'm putting bloody ER on.

Well I'll say this for the kid- she likes drama. Anytime there was a blunt-force trauma or a GSW to the left chest or an amputation by a resident in the field she shut right up. The emotional stuff- the Season 7 glory of Greene and Courday or Abbey and Luca- she continued to ball. But GODDAMN you'd better believed that I treasured those four minute bouts of silence when they came.

Bliss.

As the clock crept closer and closer to midnight I became increasingly anxious that I was in danger of seeing in my new year with a kid on my hip. Which, in case you are new to this blog, IS SO NOT IN THE PLAN. It isn't even in the ten year plan. Definitely not in the five year plan. FUCK ME IN THE ASS WITH A COURGETTE IT MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT PART OF THE 2011 PLAN.

And as soon as the toddler sensed my clock-watching the tears went up a notch. Like that was possible. It was HORRIBLE. I swung her around some. I showed her the kitchen set her dad said always made her smile. I danced a bit. I guided her hand to pet the dog. I talked in whispers and did big smiles and panicked and panicked and panicked and willed her with every part of my being to SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP so that I could bed her down and pick up a pen for when the ball dropped. She had been crying for three hours. Save for the intrigue into emergency medicine. I WAS OFFICIALLY PISSED OFF WITH HER and totally out of ideas.

And then somehow, I accidentally did a peek-a-boo.

She shut up.

I froze.

"Peek-a-boo!" I slowly repeated.

The little shit giggled.

"Peek-a-boo!"

Giggle.

"PEEK-A-BOO-PEEK-A-BOO-PEEK-A-BOO!" I cried AND SHE PRACTICALLY WET HERSELF WITH EXCITEMENT.

"That's it?" I asked her? "Peek-a-boo?"

Giggles.

Internet. I could have weeped with ten-to-midnight JOY and then blown you just for fun.

Peek-a-fucking-boo. Three hours of crying for a bollocksing peek-a-sodding-boo.

It seemed a little late to be picking up a pen now, so naff it I thought, she stayed up with me. We put on the telly and watched the fireworks crackle and we peek-a-booed for another twenty minutes, all around the living room. This kid had a personality transplant- literally it was as if she had turned to me and gone, "It took you long enough to figure that one out, huh? Can we go get a beer now? It's 2011, baby!"

2011. Wow. The Year I Keep My Legs Together In Case I End Up With One Of These Of My Own. I can't see in another New Year like that.

Ever.


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