I’m so tired of being asked that question. I’m almost thirty four and you’d think my ovaries were going to implode unless I’m impregnated by a lovely man (do they even exist?) within the next two years. Even then, I’d be “pushing it”.
I can’t sleep. Not in a stressed, SaltScrub sweat kind of way, just in a “not really that tired” kind of way. Sleeping eleven hours last night and napping my headache away this afternoon could be the culprit.
But I’ve leaned about this woman called Michele Roberts (my Facebook newsfeed is all politics, rugby and feminism) who is the new head of the NBA players’ union. She sounds pretty awesomesauce (credit to ElsaDaughter’s friend for this neologism). African-American; tough urban upbringing; absent father. Black girl from the wrong side of the tracks crosses boundaries, with class and without a husband. She’s fifty eight and looks forty. She didn’t marry and decided not to have kids. She let her siblings provide her with part time kids, all the fun, none of the drudgery, in the form of nieces and nephews. The quote above is hers. It might just be my favourite ever.
Why do people assume women aren’t content just being women without being clawed over to the often dark side of motherhood? Why do we still desperately want Jennifer Anniston’s uterus to blossom into pregnancy in its last fling before she “dries up”? Why does Helen Mirren find herself portrayed as an “incomplete” version of womanhood because she never crowned a baby out of her cervix? Why are we obsessed with women having babies? It’s like we fear for their happiness if they don’t feel the first fluttering. Let me tell you, pregnancy isn’t quite as ethereal an experience as they’d have you believe. The fluttering is transient: the all day (“morning” sickness my arse) puking can only be relieved by eating crackers, and in my case, tuna (I was a vegetarian). The nausea eases for ten minutes and then you’re BFF is the toilet bowl again which will have your waddling arse practically permanently in situ in a few months when your bladder is squashed into the base of your pelvis. But apart from all that, and the childbirth, (the worst part of which is having your waters broken – it’s REALLY hot – and passing the placenta. I’m sorry, but it’s gross. It’s actually like a flimsy Tesco bag of turkey entrails). Of course, when a hot, young doctor is “tidying” you up, the nurses having cleared away your “push poop” (it’s inevitable, get over it), you’re vomiting into a sick bowl, red faced, sweat matted and tear streaked and Doc McHottie says to well fed BabyDaddy (you’ll be starved, presumably because they don’t want you shitting all over the delivery ward), “Liverpool are beating Man U” over your stirrupped legs, your guts bleeding out of you, you know you’ve hit rock bottom. That is until you can’t pee because it hurts so much: the little devil who emerged from you has created ground zero where your lovely tidy sexy bits were. Then one day you sit on the toilet thinking you must have diaharea only to look down to discover the remainder of your blood stash is flooding the main sewerage system. Let me tell you, new motherhood is not such a special time: it’s bloody hard (pun intended), and traumatic.
Physically traumatic, and emotionally. There were many moments I felt nothing for that little gurgling bundle like she wasn’t the fly half who spent forty weeks (don’t be fooled, it’s more than nine months…) warming up for an Ireland career in my big fat belly. Other times I was overcome with resentment and frustration: I couldn’t love something that made me feel this shit. I remember one day, her laying on my bed, I was trying to get dressed. She would not stop crying for no apparent reason other than she wasn’t being held. I thought I’d hit her. Another night, having fallen into the trap of taking her into the bed with me out of sheer desperation for sleep. Being nineteen and up at six am to commute an hour to college by bus to finish my degree, I was miserable and willing to sacrifice my youth fully naïve perfect parenting intentions for the sake of two hours’ kip. I came close to violence that night out of sheer exhaustion. I was so ashamed of myself. How could I hate this baby so much? Nobody warned me. Nobody told me it would be that hard. I was never formally diagnosed with postnatal depression. I’d say I had a mild form of it, or maybe not, I don’t know a huge amount about it. But it’s ok not to feel like you’re in a blissful bubble after baba arrives – I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.
Of course it wasn’t the baby’s fault. She was a baby. She didn’t know she was a pain in the arse. That’s the thing about babies.
Sleep was always the ongoing source of tumult in the river of ElsaDaughter’s tears which is ironic seeing as, now, I’m the one with the irregular sleep patterns and she’s out cold upstairs. Bitch.
I have more to write about motherhood but I’m going to try get an hour before we gots to get up.
It’s not all bad. But it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
I can understand why women like Michele Roberts chose to be not to become mothers, but live their lives fully as women anyway.
Note: ElsaDaughter knows I’m totally smitten with her but sometimes, I wish she was my little sister instead of my kid.
To be continued…