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?
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.
…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.
So who are you? Are you definable?
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
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.
Parenting. Such a MAGICAL experience. Along with all the fear, desperation, exhaustion, irritation, frustration and total absolute dicking bollocks of parenting, comes guilt. GUILT. I feel it ALL THE COCKING TIME. I can’t escape it. I’m afraid to say, people, that when you spawn a tiny person you instantly and violently sign up for a LIFETIME of this emotional headfucking stuff. It’s overwhelming, and gives me heartburn. Yeesh.
I feel guilty…
that I don’t do enough ‘educational’ stuff with Moo
that I don’t spend enough time outdoors with Moo
that I let her watch too much TV
that I spend too much time on Twitter while she watches TV
that I don’t feed her enough food
that she eats too much junk food
that she doesn’t socialise with other children enough
that I don’t socialise with other parents enough
that sometimes I just want a break from the parenting stuff
that I should be looking for work even though it wouldn’t mean I was any better off right now
that I should be writing a novel/a screenplay/a play instead of blogging
that I should eat more healthily
that I should be a better sister/daughter/friend
that all this internal gibbering makes me a bad mother
that I’m not more proactive about a LOT of things
that I shout at Moo when I really don’t mean to
that sometimes I only really want some time on my own
that I’ve just spent fifteen quid in the supermarket on crap when I could budget properly and save cash
that I resent a lot of people who have what I don’t have even though I know that’s a horrid thing to do
that I know it could be a lot worse for me and I hate moaning
that I feel guilty about most of this stuff when I should just QUIT IT, FUCKSAKE – and man up…
You see? It’s a convoluted nightmare of epic proportions. And I’m only being a tiny bit dramatic there. Which I feel guilty about. Obvs.
What do you feel guilty about?
I’m such a farking narcissist I couldn’t resist joining in The Gallery with this theme.
But lest you think I do ACTUALLY love myself , I really do not. I just wanted to show off the new Snapseed photo editing app I have on my phone. It is great and awesome. Lots of retro/grubby/dramatic filters and frames, and nice blurring tools. So. You can totally mess with your face. Which is fun.
I took a shot of myself and had a play. This is what happened:
I like to think I am GLOWING with some sort of supernatural evanescence. Spooky me.
I also like that my features have been almost obliterated by the filter. You can’t see what my mouth is doing. Am I smiling? Am I poking out my tongue? Am I mouthing something obscene? (probably)
If you would like to join in with The Gallery, or view the other entries, then please click the link below and spread the warm blog loving. Cheerio.
Funny how there’s no limit to a sadness. How you can be smiling, and calm, and about your day like no one’s business, when all of a sudden, there’s your sadness, sitting in your neck like a nausea. This, my sadness, makes me feel somehow more than completely sad. A way of life. An enveloping fog. Like I’m being cuddled by a vapour which pricks my eyes. Will I ever not be sad? I don’t know. Too many sad things have happened lately, I suspect I’m primed for sadness now.
Anger thrusts and then dissipates. Jealousy itches, and is soothed away. Anxiety comes and goes, blue and heady. Denial sneaks a cheeky grin your way. Frustration prickles. Bravado barks the loudest, oh, it covers up a multitude of less forceful feelings, but it has no stamina, no sticking power. I admit, that public bluster is fun, I do it cos leaves me pink-cheeked and rocking with laughter, but too soon, it’s away.
Faithful sadness. Curled up on my chest, its tail around my throat.
No limit to a sadness.
Five nights. FIVE NIGHTS. Next week I will have FIVE MOO-LESS NIGHTS. That’s five whole nights and six whole days without my toddler. SHRIEK! And also, YAY! I mean, OBVS I will miss her like mentalissimo, and will probably spend the first few hours wandering round my house and making Marmite sandwiches for teddy bears and mournfully watching Cbeebies and sniffing her clothes, but THEN I reckon all the headiness of freedom will kick in and I’ll go out and, like, DO stuff.
The question is: WHAT the crap DO I DO with all that free time?
What do I ACTUALLY do?
And I am SERIOUSLY asking you here. See, this is my serious face: *does serious face*
I need suggestions. Obvs I want to make the most of such rare, precious, parental-duty-free time, and not just meld into my sofa watching the DVD box sets of Game of Thrones and The Killing (both on my to do list, natch) but I don’t really know WHAT I could do.
So far I’ve come up with:
- have a manicure (never had one before)
- go out and get drunk a lot
- triple bill at the cinema
- maybe overnight stay at the cinema
- go out and get drunk a lot
- a trip somewhere to see some people
- a trip somewhere to see some stuff
- a trip somewhere to see, erm, other stuff
Doing well, yeah? I know, right. I have NO IMAGINATION and I’m PANICKING.
C’mon, helpmehelpmehelpmehelpme. I need THINGS to do which will distract me from having no Moo, but which won’t cost a small fortune, and don’t require removing any body hair or injections.
Who knows, I may even blog about my escapades, if y’all give me some good stuff to do
By the way, Moo is going to stay with her daddy for the week, I haven’t packed her off to the Foreign Legion or anyfink. Ahem.
Now I am very impressionable so keep your ideas clean, please. Oh fuck it who am I kidding, I want to feel like myself again. TELL ME WHAT TO DO. You know you want to…
*waits with bated breath*
I am rrrrrrrrubbish at maths. Me and numbers, we don’t get along. They push all up in my face and make me itch and CONFUSE me with their fiddly-diddly numbering and multiplications and fancy-shmancy divisionals. Bleargh. Simply, I don’t do maths. Nope. This is why CALCULATORS were born, innit? And occasionally, if I need to do some urgent mathematicals, I just ask. I ask for help. I have no qualms about admitting I don’t do maths. ‘I can do WORDS,’ I intone, ‘words are MUCH FRIENDLIER and more comfortable and don’t SPIKE me so much.’ And then I get loads of sympathy and people absolutely do my maths for me. Hoopla!
See, no trouble asking for help with maths. None at all. I’ll do it right now – HELP ME HEEEEEELP MEEEEEE WITH THE EVIL SOUL-DESTROYING MATHS! Tada! Nice and clear intent, simple message, good emphasis. You got it, yeah?
Good. Go me!
So why can’t I do it for other areas of my life?
Why can’t I say to someone, anyone, ‘Help, I need help, I’m struggling, I feel sad and alone, I’m so bored and freaking out, please help me, please just talk to me, or check I’m OK, please’?
And the STUPID THING IS, I deleted that sentence and rewrote it a few times to make it sound less needy. Fucksake.
I’m an idiot, essentially. I have excellent friends and a totes shawesomeballs family. They rock. I luff them lots. I KNOW I can rely on them for all the support, love, advice, and company I may need. I know this, and I’ve received a lot of that good stuff in the past. I just can’t ASK for it. I hate bothering people. I worry that they’ll feel obliged to help me, while muttering under their breath about how self-involved I am, and then I worry that they think I don’t appreciate them enough, when I do, I really absolutely totally do, and I am so grateful to everyone who ever helps me, ever. I feel, sometimes, like I have to persevere, and endure, because that’s what life is, and I should just quit moaning, get on and do it.
I’m a single mum. I do the parenting thing, on my own, for the best part of the week. It’s difficult and tiring and, haha, sometimes, almost as bad as doing maths. The relentlessness of playgroups, toddler groups, the supermarket, tidying up felt-tip fucking pens, wiping clean a shit-encrusted arse, feeding, bath time, pushing the buggy, hoovering up bits of crushed chalk, finding stickers in my knickers, having Cbeebies on for what feels like forever, finding fridge magnets in my bed, putting away, washing, hoovering, wiping, tidying, carrying, pushing, fucking-shitting-hula-hooping, why the fuck did I buy her a hula hoop… yeah. It’s full on. Sure, it’s not dodging bullets or fighting off sea monsters, but y’know.
The rewards are obvious. I have a beautiful, funny, gregarious daughter. I would do all the above, and more, and even more, and backwards, blindfolded, if it meant she was happy and healthy and having fun. Just sometimes, y’know, I need to acknowledge that it’s HARD on my own.
Despite me writing all this, I am not likely ever to admit to needing help. And I’d like to reiterate, I am NOT asking for help right now. The last few days I’ve needed to, badly, but I made it through. I’ve been busy, kept occupied, distracted my stupid brain and had a fucking good cry when I’ve needed to. I’ve set myself some personal goals. I’ve listened to the advice of some sage and learned people. I’ve managed to keep on top of the housework WHICH IS A FUCKING MIRACLE. See? Me no need help. Unless it’s for maths. Can anyone do my maths?
What I’m TRYING to say, in a roundabout-ish sorta way, is, don’t be a dumbarse like me. If you think you need help, ASK for some. There’s no shame in asking. Ever. If you have people around you who care, then ask them for help. It could be all they need to do is listen as you admit to feeling scared, or sad, or lonely. I told someone today that I felt like shite and, funnily enough, felt better for it. Once the words had crept past my lips it was like I’d expelled them. Magic. Sure, it doesn’t solve everything but at least it’s not bottled up inside me where the most damage is done. Admission counts. Fo sho.
Please do my maths.
Do you find it difficult asking for help? What stops you? What would you never ask for help with?
Can’t think of the last time I was on it. And in this instance, I mean ON IT LIKE A CAR BONNET. A phrase which conjures up colourful images of doing THINGS on car bonnets. But hang on a mother-picking minute – when was the last time I was ON a car bonnet? Have I EVER been on a car bonnet? And, are you actually ALLOWED on car bonnets? Like, recreationally? Or is it something attempted under the cover of darkness and incognito? In which case, that means there are A LOT of people currently bandying around the phrase ‘Yeah! I am on it like a car bonnet!’ who have NO INTENTION of getting on a car bonnet and doing the thing they are supposed to be doing, for fear of being caught and detained and possibly made to apologise to the owner of the car bonnet for violating such a personal place. How fucking disingenuous! Innit.
So here I am, openly admitting that, yeah, I am not on it. Not even near a car bonnet right now. There’s one over there *points out of the window* but it looks a bit damp. So I’m not getting on it. I wish I was on it. Not that car bonnet, not literally, just… oh YOU KNOW. Figuratively on it. Just for once I’d like to feel capable, organised, and IN CONTROL. How does that happen? Is there a button I press? Which bastard hid my button? Bastards.
On the surface, I have fuck all to complain about. There are worse things happening in the world and I am uber-grateful none of them are happening to me. But I’m an introspective and overthinking kind of gal so these are my demons, y’see. Haunting me. Waking me in the night and making me think the awful things about myself that, ordinarily, I can subdue. I convince myself that I’m a horrid, mean little person, undeserving of love and affection. I tell myself that Moo would be better off without me, as I am pretty sure I’m not doing this parenting stuff properly. I think, deep down, that all the evil, dark, gluey stuff that I want no one to know about me just surfaces and spills from my orifices and then everyone will see me for who I really am, or think I’m someone that I really really hope I’m not. And, turns out, I’m obsessed. Obsessed with MYSELF. Which is STUPID, as this post is all about me, so I’m kind of perpetuating the obsession, and yeah, I kind of hate myself for it. Sucks, huh?
We all have off days. Some days, we are so off, we end up standing over there, by ourselves, looking maudlin and picking the skin from our lips. Oh, just me? Shit. Anyway, what I’m saying is, I know this cycle of spurious self-flagellation will peter out eventually (hopefully, desperately) soon. I know that at some point, I will wake up and think ‘Yeah! I am ON IT like a MOTHERFUCKING CAR BONNET’ and do a little victory dance, in my pants, by the side of the bed, like people who are winning at life do. That’s worth waiting for, so I believe. And in the meantime, I’m trying not to beat myself up and vomit self-pity everywhere. Oh, what? I already did? Oops.
Having a blog gives a voice to these feelings. No one is obliged to reply or comment. I’m not fishing for reassurance. This is CATHARTIC. It’s like, I feel BAD, I write it all down, feel a bit silly, then feel better and get on with my day. You may recognise yourself in my words, or you might be thinking, ‘Shut your whining, bitch, and blog about periods or muff or something’. Whatevs. There’s space here for thoughts and I just filled it, innit. If you’re brave enough, you can be one of those people who give me a virtual slap and yell at me to pull myself together. Be brave, mind. Very brave.
So, on with my day. I’ve got a wild toddler to corral, a bodacious play to perform in, and a sweaty pair of fishnets to slip into.
How do you stay on it? Literally? No, ha ha, I mean figuratively. No, I do mean literally. Maybe.