Back before I had kids, when I knew a lot about having kids.
I thought there’d be bedtimes and after-hours times when I could watch TV and eat chocolate and have adult conversations in full-sentence exchanges.
I thought I’d go to sleep at some point, and wake up in another, refreshed and renewed and revitalised for the day.
I thought I’d still have a career.
I still thought I’d be brilliant – at something – not quite sure what.
I thought the kids would eat everything I put in front of them, and the dishes would do themselves and the lunch boxes would be packed with artistic flourishes and I would hand sew costumes and, well, you know.
I also thought I’d be fun. I thought I’d be the mum that surfs, and skis, and holds talent shows, and acts the fool, and we’d be a family that sits around the dinner table laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
The other weekend I was at a party and someone described their partner in this way:
“This is what he’s like, ‘WHAT’S THE MOST FUN WE CAN HAVE RIGHT NOW?’ like, ‘WHAT’S THE FUNNEST THING WE CAN DO RIGHT NOW?” and I turned to Ron and said,
“But, who does the dishes?”
This morning, we woke up next to a river (I am becoming obsessed by rivers – expect a post in the future about rivers) and I took my coffee (I only have coffee on Sundays these days, so it’s a Special Moment) down to the shore of the river and it was beautiful. I went back up to the camper van and said to the kids – you guys should definitely go for a swim – it’s sensational down there. And Louis’ instant response was, “Will you swim with me?” and my instant response was, “No, I just got dressed – I’ll come down and watch though.” And the whole time I was sitting there (watching) thinking, “Why the FUCK am I not in the river swimming??” and the words of that woman at the party were echoing in my head, “WHAT’S THE FUNNEST THING I COULD DO RIGHT NOW?”
And, fuck it, I stripped down to my bra and undies and jumped in! It was great! We had a blast, and we all had gigantic smiles on our faces, and we were all alone – us and the glorious river and the ten thousand sand flies and the family of six goats roaming the cliff face – but no-one in front of whom I felt I needed to be worried about being there in my bra and undies and my bra and undies are of the Comfortable Variety, and god damn it they were good to swim in. In contrast to my fucking tortuous togs which cut in under my arms and make bulges of my thighs “where the flesh no longer holds the firmness of youth” (thank you Joan Didion), and require gymnastic stretches to get on and off. In contrast to that – to that’s how it feels for me to go for a swim, swimming in my Comfortable Variety bra and undies, was a fucking revolution. Which is why I’m writing about it here, where we are raising them.
So, this morning, exactly one of my ideas from my Expert Parent of the Non-Parent Division was brought to life. I’m so pleased I went to that party, stayed sober long enough to hear and remember that anecdote, and my reaction to it, and to make changes. I am now on a mission to find Comfortable Variety Togs.
In other news, when we got to a washing machine this afternoon and I did the washing, I noticed, whilst hanging up the clothes, a very unfortunate stain on the back of my Comfortable Variety undies – from where I went down one of the rapids on my arse. On a set of cricket whites, the stain would clearly be identified as a grass stain. On the back-side of a pair of white undies, it does look rather more unfortunate than that.