Bargain

Deep night. Light sleep.
From the monitor, a crackled snoring.
Until – ‘mummy!’ – and again, ‘mummy!’

Of course, awake at once.
The room is dark alarm clock blue.
No moment to think, just ‘mummy!’
and you have to be there.

These are the 3am activities:
coughing, crying, hugging, soothing.
Sleep has gone now;
the night belongs to an illness.
A damp towel. Sticky medicine spoon.
Hot forehead pressed into your shoulder.
Sleep has gone now.

You sit, and think:
whoever’s in charge -
if you’re listening -
whoever -
I will do anything -
anything, right -
if she gets better.

That’s the bargain.
Anything.

Limp cuddles, entangled blankets.
Someone is snoring.
You return to the electric dark blueness
and -
wait, awake
for the next
‘mummy’

Blood

Blood is thicker than water, they say, which is kind of true, cos if you try to dilute some Vimto with blood it doesn’t really work. It’s way too thick. Your Vimto goes all gloopy, and tastes weird, and suddenly you’re not allowed to help out at playgroup any more.

BUT ANYWAY, I guess what they mean is, y’know, family ties are more important than, erm, watery ones. Which is fair enough. It’s an old saying, a proper vintage adage that has, like, historical weight to it, so yeah, it’s got to be true for a heck of a lot of people. Maybe not those people who are related to serial killers, or Piers Morgan, but most people, I’d have thought. Including me! I love my family. BLOOD. I love my blood. And here I mean anyone related to me by blood, not my actual blood. Although I am fond of my actual blood. It does its stuff quite handily, and is a nice red colour. YAY PLASMA!

This is the MODERN AGE, tho, innit. Like, now. It’s not yesterday, or days of yore. They happened already. This is the present day. If we’re talking about family (which I am, yo) then that can’t be neatly explained and put into little sections and labelled with washi tape and written on in fancy handwriting. It just don’t work like that any more. Family means much stuff to lotsa folk, and recently I’ve been considering my own family unit and realising it for the special and treasured thing it is.

Obvs there’s my blood kin, I’ve mentioned them. Bloooooood. YAY PLATELETS! This is my best GCSE Biology-based knowledge shining through here, by the way. OH YES – I got a B. I am practically a bona fide scientist, yes I am shut up. ANYWAY. Family. So, so much more than literal relations. I feel lucky enough to have close friends that I definitely could not use to dilute my Vimto, purely because they’d make it too gloopy and weird. BUT THAT’S A GOOD THING, STAY WITH ME. I have an ex-husband who is an excellent father and will be a good friend for life. I have online acquaintances who – even  tho I’ve never met some of them – give me an intense hit of camaraderie whenever I fire up my WiFi. Big smooches to them. And, hey – I have a boyf, and a Moo, and that on its own is otherworldly awesome; but the WHOLE LOT make it a pure damn beautiful modern family unit right there, folks.

Before I go all gooey and tear up and snot all over my laptop, y’all should know this is probably ze hormonez talking. I’m on a contraceptive pill called That’s A Fuck Load Of Oestrogen, Bitch and it’s playing havoc with my levels. HOWEVER, I do think it’s a thing to mull. What constitutes a ‘family’ for you? Is there such a thing as a ‘traditional’ family unit any more? Does it even matter? (I bet the Daily Mail thinks it does) (the fuckers) (as long as we’re ALL HAPPY, right?)

YAY HAEMOGLOBIN!*

 

*GCSE Biology. Got a B.

Room 101

I never really understood the concept of the BBC TV game show Room 101. Picking stuff to consign to hell? OK right. But what if you eventually end up in your Room 101? It’s entirely likely. Why put a load of stuff you hate in the room where you’ll spend all eternity? Let’s see, I really really can’t stand gin, and good books, and cake. No siree. That can all go in my Room 101. OK bye see you later, I’m CONSIGNING MYSELF TO HELL. Sounds AMAZING in there. Cheerio, SUCKERS.

In Orwell’s novel 1984 Room 101 was a torture chamber, filled with the worst things you ever feared and hated, with the express purpose of breaking your spirit and wrecking your soul. That’s more fucking like it. I can think of PLENTY of things that my own Room 101 would be rammed to the shitting bastard rafters with. And once everything is in there, you’ll find me ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE UNIVERSE.

For example, my (capacious) Room 101 would contain:

wasps

bigots

Tom Hanks

lumpy milk

bin juice

fungal infections

mango

housework

the Tory government

hayfever

pets

Radio One

large-ish spiders

and damp towels.

That lot can keep each other company UNTIL THE END OF TIME.

I was tagged by the unequivocally splendid Lara who writes at A Life So Ordinary to join in with this Room 101 meme.

What would you put in your Room 101? Assuming one day you might be tortured with it?

Smear

There is nothing more wonderful about being a female human being than the joyous occasion of the smear test.

Yes. I’m being sarcastic.

A smear test: when your vagina is winched open and your cervix is swabbed. YAY! Fun for all.

GUILTY FACE. I was long overdue a smear. Hadn’t had one in AAAAAAGES. Thought I should probably have one done. They’re important. THEY MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE BEEN PUNCHED IN THE VULVA, but they’re important.

This is what I worried about prior to the actual smear test:

  • what if my undercarriage smells? 
  • what if I guff in the doctor’s face by accident?
  • what if the doctor loses a speculum up there?
  • what if the doctor finds a colony of womb spiders?
  • what if the doctor recoils in horror at the sight of my untamed muff?
  • what if the doctor refuses to administer the smear test on the grounds of a cruel and unusual vaginal display?
  • my vagina’s OK, right?
  • I mean, it FEELS OK. I haven’t actually looked properly in a while. I’m assuming it’s OK. DOES MY VAGINA LOOK OK?
  • oh my GOD what if my vagina doesn’t look like a vagina any more?
  • would the doctor even say if my vagina didn’t look OK?
  • or would they just secretly add it to a list of Odd Vaginas and post it on the internet?
  • should I google Odd Vaginas, just in case?

I’m pretty sure the doctor has seen A LOT of vaginas in her line of work. She kind of had the face of someone who’d seen A HECK OF A LOT of vaginas. And not in a good way.

She was quite curmudgeonly. I felt sorry for her, but then felt annoyed, because I wanted someone chirpy and bright and POSITIVE to bring me out of my worried funk. Someone to put me at ease. Not a ‘oh fuck, here’s another vagina’-faced doctor. I should have had a ‘YAY VAGINA!’ doctor. All gynaecological doctors should come with a YAY VAGINA! qualification.

But I’m being unfair. She was good at the smeary stuff. If ‘good’ means ‘shove a speculum in this front bottom and wrench those walls wide so’s I can shine a light on your secret juicy parts and poke around a bit’. Which is essentially what a smear test entails.

It’s UNCOMFORTABLE. It’s not unbearable, though. Just when you think you REALLY REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO THIS any more, she whips the speculum out and it’s over. I found out I have something HORRENDOUS sounding called CERVICAL EROSION (or ectropion) which made me want to go ‘AAAAAAAAAARRGHHHHHH WHAT WHAAAAAT OMFG  MY CERVIX IS ERODING WHAAAAAAAT?’ for a minute until she explained it was quite common and not weird or dangerous or anything. Phew.

Anyway, obvs I have to wait for the results to see if I do have anything weird or dangerous, which is a whole different kind of worried funk now. But at least I’d KNOW, and can then do something about it, if needs be.

SMEAR TESTS ARE SO FUCKING IMPORTANT. Just DO ONE. Sure, they’re disagreeable and faintly embarrassing but how else are you going to know whether your cervix is peachy or not?

And if you’re lucky, you’ll get a YAY VAGINA! doctor.

I’ll say it one more time: YAY VAGINA!

And: get a fucking smear test done.

This has been a public service blog post, sponsored by my eroded cervix. You’re welcome.

Should I google Odd Vaginas?

 

Exhibition

Listen up, mofos.

Y’all know I’m a mum. Moo came out of my vagina which I’m pretty sure qualifies me for motherhood, yeah?

However – and this is what I’m TRYING to get my brain around – I am not JUST a mum. Cut me in half like a bastard tree and you will not find M-O-T-H-E-R carved through my core. Fuck knows what’s written there. Maybe B-A-D-A-S-S-M-O-V-O?

Erm. Don’t cut me in half to find out if that’s true, though.

Doing the mum stuff is fundamental to my being BUT I am not defined by it. Most days, I don’t have a buggering fuck of a clue who I am. There are many things I do, but again, why should I be defined by that? I’m a HUMAN PERSON (last time I checked). Scientifically speaking: a complex amalgamation of neural impulses contained in a skin bag, powered by gin and biscuits and voodoo, innit. That’s BIOLOGY, right there. That’s QUINTESSENTIAL LIFE.

Yet, I like being contrary; you may have noticed. Get asked to define myself and I immediately bristle and look for the opportunity to break the rules.

I’m a mum and… what? Can I be everything and anything? Damn straight. I claim it all. ALL OF IT.

I’m a mum, and a noble knight on a shining steed, and a helpless maiden locked in a tower; and a deviant, a maelstrom, and a bottomless pit of anger. I’m a mum and a coward. And a fierce outlaw. And a nurturing beast, an exhausted academe. I’m a mum and I’m a lazy cow. I’m a total bitchface. I’m a bastard cunt. And I’m the loveliest, kindest woman you’ll ever know. I’m a absolute nightmare. I’m a mum, and a recalcitrant police officer, and a ghost, and a harpy. I’m a grubby sophisticate and a floundering gypsy. I’m a mum and a feminist, and I’m a backwards judgemental imbecile, and I’m clever enough to know when I’m wrong. I’m a pretender, and I am a purveyor of truthful stories. I’m a mum, and a qualified airline pilot. I’m a beautiful woman. I’m a cipher, a virago, and a total fucking conundrum. And I’m a mum. I am a mum. And not JUST a mum. 

I’m a…

Story of mum pic

…and if you don’t like it, you can fuck off and do one.

This mardy outburst is brought to you in association with Story of Mum, who encourage creativity in mothers and who asked me to curate this exhibition for them. In doing so I’m including not just my words but words from other mums as well, using part of the epic Mums’ Poem that grows and spreads and and celebrates many facets of motherhood:

Stumbling tweeting loon, warrior worrier.
Little foot tickler. Singer of songs.
Cheek kisser. Overwrought, frazzled and shouty.
Super sorter, life giver, the rock that never crumbles.

24×7 customer service.

Strong. Peace Maker. Wet wiper.
Respirateur and goddess, snot rag, fun magician.
Selfless. 

So who are you? Are you definable?

story of mum exhibition

My Boyfriend Has A Tiny Penis

He doesn’t, by the way.

Me: I’m thinking of writing a blog post called ‘My Boyfriend Has A Tiny Penis’. Is that OK?

Boyfriend: Erm, no.

Me: OK great, thanks, I’ll start writing it straight away!

Boyfriend: Did you not hear me? I said no!

Me: Yes OF COURSE I heard you, thanks for being so understanding and generous. I love how you agree with me about EVERYTHING.

Boyfriend: Are you DELUDED? I SAID NO!

Me: [gallops off on my unicorn]

That *points upwards* my friends, is a GOOD EXAMPLE of comedic writing. Notice also how the title of the post is funny, and not just cos I mention the word ‘penis’ which is, in itself, a hilarious word. PENIS, y’all. Ha. It’s funny cos it seems like I’m revealing a devastatingly intimate detail about my boyfriend’s anatomy to the entire world, yeah? It could be totally awkward for anyone who reads this blog and knows who my boyfriend is in actual real life. They’d meet him and instantly think, ‘All right mate. You have a tiny penis’, and then wouldn’t be able to banish that notion from their brains EVER AGAIN. Let’s face it, y’all are thinking hard about my boyfriend’s penis now, yeah? You deviants.

That’s funny. I’m smiling.

He doesn’t, by the way.

People laugh at inappropriate things. I’ve often been told I’m funny (luckily for me, my boyfriend also thinks so, ohmigod phew) and I have no doubt it’s partly because I blog/tweet about slightly shmutty* subjects like periods and sex and shit which are really not ideal topics of conversation in polite society. But I find it all funny. Maybe I’m not that sophisticated. Ah well. I write about that stuff in my own particular style cos I like making people laugh and maybe gasp a bit. The whole blogging shebang clicked for me when I realised that I could be funny with my writing. Sure, sometimes I vent the doom, but generally speaking, I think I’m known for the funny. Right? Yeah? Goodo.

So for me, writing the funny stuff is about the shmut and the audible gasp and the fucking bloody bastard swearing and the SHOUTY CAPS LOCK. This is my niche, this is what I can do. When I read other blog posts which contain any of those elements I laugh my tits off. I wrote a TV script like that just so’s it might get made into an actual programme and then I get to watch it on TV and laugh my tits off again. Yes, I laugh at my own stuff. If you want to write funny, you need to be able to laugh at yourself. Otherwise, what the fuck?

What actually happened was:

Me: I’m thinking of writing a blog post called ‘My Boyfriend Has A Tiny Penis’. Is that OK?

Boyfriend: Yeah, sure.

But that’s not funny. It is WAY funnier to make it seem like my boyfriend hated the idea, and then I just blithely ignored him, whilst passive-aggressively suggesting that he’s pussy-whipped and then ending with a triumphant exit on the back of my faithful blogging emblem, the unicorn. Exaggeration, untruths, mystical creatures. All funny stuff.

PENIS.

He doesn’t, by the way. Although it’s starting to sound like I’m protesting too much. LOVEYOUBOYFRIENDPLEASEDON’TLEAVEME.

If I was to ever run a seminar on ‘How to Write Funny Things and Make People Laugh and Maybe Gasp A Bit, Innit’ then I’d wrap it all up with these pieces of advice:

  • what makes you laugh? Just do that
  • PENIS
  • unicorn

The session would only be 30 seconds long. I’d include a tap dance. Then we’d go to the pub for some gin.

 

What makes you laugh? And does your boyfriend have a tiny penis?

Mine doesn’t.

 

 

*new word: amalgamation of smutty and shitty. You’re welcome. Add it to the dictionary, yo

 

Weather

Fucking hot weather, innit. I’m sitting in my pants writing this. JUST MY PANTS. Sweaty, sticky pants. Laptop burning through the cushion balanced on my lap. Growing colonies of bacteria in my swampy under-boobs. Pretty sure there’s also some jungle vines amassing in my foetid arse crack. Fat flies buzzing in lazy swirls around the stagnant shallows of my armpits. I’m so HOT. And not in a good way.

Just wanted to give y’all a mental image of my beauteous form, there. YOU’RE WELCOME. Any time.

There are ways of coping. ONE: don’t live in a country where this bastard-sunshine thing can happen. Go NORTH. In the epic wastelands of the north, it’s cooler, and not so damn bright, and they have clouds and rain and stuff. Unfortunately, I feel dizzy and get nosebleeds if I go past Gloucester so I have to stay south and west as much as possible. For the sake of my HEALTH, obvs.

TWO: live in a cave. This is feasible. There are many caves in the ground. Some are habitable. As long as you like living in caves. Dark, chill, festooned with bats and stalagmites: what’s not to enjoy? Wait, it’s almost as if we’re talking about my arse crack again. ANYWAY. I can’t live in a cave, I get flashbacks to that time I was buried alive and had to punch my way out of a coffin* so dwelling underground is just not my thing. Shame.

THREE: become one of those people for whom hot weather is merely an inconvenience, or a slight discomfort. Y’know. They don’t perspire. They barely have a sheen to their dry, scaly skin. They skip across hot pavements, from shadow to precious shadow, with graceful, skittish ease. They gaze upon you with the slow, moist blink of the eternally cool. I envy these people. Oh no, wait, I mean LIZARDS. I envy lizards. And lizard-people.

Those are only a few of the more sensible solutions I have for managing to stay comfortable in this stupid weather. Moo is perfectly content to splash about in a washing-up bowl full of water outside in the shade, while I melt into a fleshy puddle nearby. I think my internal thermostat is broken, cos I never used to be this pathetic. I should be romping in the park in a bikini top and denim hotpants, yeah? I shouldn’t be yearning the fabric clasp of a damn good cardigan, right? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

How the fucking fuck are you supposed to deal with July? Like, an actual July with actual sweltering bloody heatwave stuff? I DON’T LIKE IT.

Bastard weather. Do one.

 

PS I’m allowed to moan about the weather. So there.

 

*may have been Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, I’m always getting mixed up with her 

 

Potty

Me: Shall we take your nappy off? It’s full of wee.

Moo: OK then.

Me: And if you need a wee, you can go on the potty.

Moo: OK then.

Me: There. OK. Remember. If you need a wee, go on the potty.

Moo: No.

Me: Yes, Moo. If you need a wee, you go on the potty.

Moo: No. No wee. No potty.

Me: Well, sure, if you don’t need a wee, don’t go on the potty.

Moo: No wee.

Me: OK. Don’t wee then.

Moo: [clutching herself] No wee. NO WEE.

Me: Moo do you need a wee?

Moo: NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE.

Me: Oh my god Moo do you need a wee? Just go on the potty!

Moo: [runs around clutching herself] NO WEE MUMMY NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE.

Me: Sit on the potty if you need a wee!

Moo: [legs crossed] NO WEE MUMMY.

Me: WHY ARE YOU HOLDING YOURSELF? IF YOU NEED A WEE GO ON THE POTTY!

Moo: [sits briefly on the potty] NO MUMMY NO WEE NO WEE.

Me: If you don’t need a wee, don’t have a wee! If you need a wee, go on the potty!

Moo: Need a new nappy, mummy.

Me: You’re having a bath in a minute, I’m not going to…

Moo: NEW NAPPY MUMMY NO WEE NO POTTY NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE.

Me: I’m not putting a new nappy on you Moo, if you need a wee go on the…

Moo: [legs crossed, clutching herself] NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE.

Me: [desperately] If you do a wee on the potty I’ll give you a sweet.

Moo: Sweets? Yes please.

Me: You can have a sweet if you do a wee on the potty.

Moo: [sits briefly on the potty, stands up, crosses legs and holds herself] NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE…

Me: [despairs] You can’t have a sweet then.

Moo: … NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE NO WEE…

Me: [hides under sofa]

 

So. Potty training. She’ll just wake up one morning and use the toilet by herself, yeah? Minimum involvement from me? Awesome.

OK fine whatever.

Tell me it can be easy. Tell me there’s, like, a simple way to do it. Cos Moo hates having her nappy changed, and hates wearing a nappy, but sure as hell doesn’t seem ready to use a potty/toilet, if the above exchange I had yesterday is anything to go by. What’s the answer? CAN I JUST PUT NEWSPAPER DOWN AND HOPE FOR THE BEST?

Help. HELP. I don’t want to do this. I am actually dreading it. Help me please.

First Aid

My brain is full of stuff that generally could be perceived as useless. ENTIRELY USELESS. Obvs there’s some good stuff – like how to make a cup of tea, remembering where my bed is, and how to rewire giant lasers to go from stun to kill – but in the grand scheme of things, my brain is a repository for crap. Actual, real crap.

This is what my brain is up to right now:

AKKA AKKA FUH-tong FUH-tong ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ pop WOOOOOOOOAAAAHHHHHH

See? What a load of shit. That is a DAILY OCCURANCE. Man alive. I can’t even spell occurrence. My brain got it wrong first time. Like it needs a run up. Damn brain.

BUT ANYWAY. What am I getting at? Oh yeah. My brain has recently acquired some new information, however, which means that it is FINALLY using its powers for something positive and useful and potentially awesomesauce.

I went on a First Aid course.

Woo! That’s right. I am now a First Aider. I was a bit disappointed that we don’t get costumes to wear in our new roles but I might fashion my own. I’m thinking spandex onesie with F A emblazoned across my chest. And a cape. And a mask. And a tutu. Maybe.

This course was great. Absolutely great. It felt good to be learning something new and relevant and ultimately life-changing. It was also astonishing and frightening and kind of humbling. The other people on the course shared their stories of real-life emergencies. We watched a video of some lifeguards on Bondi Beach doing CPR on someone dragged unconscious from the waves. We practised tying bandages on each other. We learned all sorts of terrifying statistics about survival rates and deaths, and how you really don’t want to have to  perform a Heimlich manoeuvre on yourself – with a spindle-backed chair* – if you can possibly help it. We learned about choking, and burns, and bleeding, and shock. I now know CPR, and how hard and fast I have to do it if I want to make a difference between someone living and dying. I know how to put someone in the recovery position, even if they’re seated in a chair or slumped against a wall. I know how to treat a burn or a scald. I know what to do if someone has a seizure. I know that in an emergency, I can be of use until someone more qualified than me turns up with the defibrillator and the drugs and the superior knowledge.

It’s all good stuff. In a way, I hope I never have to use it. When my ex and I had to call an ambulance for Moo about eighteen months ago I vowed to myself that I would never want to have to do that ever again, ever ever. Of course, accidents happen and those wonderful paramedics are there for a reason. But during the First Aid course, I finally came to terms with what Moo went through that awful evening. I thought I was over it, yet when I was explaining to the course teacher what had happened, I started crying and wobbling a bit and that’s when it struck me that the absolute worst thing about it all was feeling so damn useless. My infant daughter had been unconscious on the rug and I didn’t have a clue what to do. Thankfully, it turned out just fine. I now understand that after vomiting a few times Moo went into shock and her body shut down to protect her vital organs. She was still breathing, her heart was still beating. But it was like a reboot. Turned off then on again. Fucking terrifying for me and her daddy. I hope she never does it again. At least I’d know what to do. If it happened to ANYONE.

This stuff should be taught in schools. Currently, it’s not. Seriously. EVERYONE should know some basic first aid. Shouldn’t they? Am I right in thinking that? We should be confident enough to know what to do if we see someone collapsed in the street, right? Even if it’s put them into the recovery position and call an ambulance, that’s something.

I feel like I want to do more.

Are you a First Aider? Or have you ever been in an emergency and instinctively known what to do?

 

*dude tried it, impaled himself on spindle, and died. True story. Aargh. 

Antibiotics

You know I have shiteye? That’s an ACTUAL MEDICAL TERM, by the way – the street name for it is ‘conjunctivitis’. True story.

And you know antibiotics? Yeah? I am taking them for the shiteye.

Antibiotics are great, huh. Oh yeah. Good stuff. You know how the antibiotics for shiteye are eye drops? Makes sense, right?

You know how the eye drops are cold, and soothing, and a relief from the itch-plague of shiteye?

You know how the antibiotics just take the pain away and make everything all right again?

And how even though the antibiotics sting a bit, and there’s that foul bitter taste down the back of your throat that you almost can’t stomach but you do, cos you know it’s medicine and it’s GOOD for you and you have to do it if you want to shift the shiteye?

And how even though yeah, it fucking STINGS actually A LOT and you can’t see properly for ten minutes and you stamp your feet and say ‘motherfucker‘ in front of the toddler, who’s laughing at you anyway cos they had to have antibiotics last week and you actually SAT ON THEM to get the fucking things in their eyes and now it’s OBVIOUSLY payback time?

So you know how you have to take the antibiotics about three thousand hundred million times a day? Or, like, every three hours or whatever? But you have to keep them in the fridge, so if you’re out all day, you have to take the fridge out with you? Yeah.

And you know how, OK, it’s inconvenient and it stings like a fucker and they taste like shit and your toddler laughs at you and your eye is still weeping pus a bit, fucksake, that’s all FINE anyway cos antibiotics are GREAT and WONDERFUL and can FIX YOUR SHITEYE and not just shiteye but all sorts of other bacterial-based bastard infections?

You know all that?

Yeah?

Huh.

What I want to know is: when are they going to make something that soothes the pain in my heart? Or the itch in my brain? Or the stupid tangled worries in my gut? Or the loneliness? Or the sadness? Is there medicine for all that? Cos just when I think I’m over it, I get another bout.

Antibiotics. Yes. They’re great. What would you want them to cure?