Friday, December 10, 2010
On parenting, and further
When you have a baby - and it doesn't need to be your first; the second merely re-awakes what came before - everything changes. You might, for insance, do something totally crazy, like moving house five weeks after the birth, selling your neat West End flat and taking up residence in a council house in Dunoon, hastily done over after the previous teacher moved out. A move such as this masks what might have happened anyway; I'm thinking of the impulse to comfort and convenience which has you buying a hideous pair of trousers (grey, with orange and black checks) merely because they have an elastic waist and don't need taken up (they seemed ok at the time because I no longer lived in the city and besides no-one knew me in Dunoon). I'm thinking of the effort it takes to wash, change, dress, undress, dress again your new infant, which leaves you too frazzled to do more than hurl an outer garment (only criterion: waterproofing) over your besmotered** top and aforementioned breeks before you heave the pram down the steps and hit the weather. I'm thinking of how suddenly it's ok to go our without a scrap of makeup on your face - something you haven't done since you were ... oh, fifteen? ... and sometimes without even moisturiser (a wee touch of baby cream, maybe?). Life contracts to a primitive level in which only the infant matters - and perhaps the food on the table to keep you, The Great Provider, topped up.
Ok, perhaps not every new mother lets herself go in such abandoned fashion. It took me years to get over the idea that I had moved to a seaside resort and therefore would never need to dress respectably again - maybe I never did. Get over the idea, I mean. Maybe the situation merely compounded a tendency that was already present. But while I was in snow-bound Edinburgh, being Super-Gran (ipsa dixit, I know), I realised that I was in danger of doing it again. I wore the same pair of (warm, practical, techy fabric) black trousers every time I went out, and changed into the same pair of (warm, practical, supremely comfortable, soft techy fabric) trousers to be indoors. I had three other pairs with me that never saw the light of day. I rotated a trio of fleeces, and my jerseys and varied tops remained in the case. I washed what needed washed, and didn't think about what to put on. I didn't actually care. It might be midday before I realised that the tight stretchy sensation about my face wasn't a ski mask; it was my centrally-heated skin, drying out nicely because I'd been too busy making Peppa Pig and Grandfather Pig climb the side of the bath in valiant rescue operations of Little Brother George (blooming millstone that game turned out to be) to put on moisturiser - let alone warpaint. And suddenly it'd be dark outside again, and time for bedtime stories and an hour or so of stupor while Lord Sugar pronounced and fates were decided, and then we'd all stagger to bed again.
And that was before the addiction to Lemsip kicked in ...
*We were going to church (Spiky Mike's), BTW
** This word is found in Chaucer. I use it often. I'm not going to spell it out - you're an educated lot.