I've sometimes thought that if Mums were a tribe of people set apart from everyone else then they'd probably be quite a moany tribe. Anthropologists would describe them as tired with blotchy skin and a permanent V for VEXATION etched between their brows. They'd be hunchbacked and emit low groans when offered a comfy chair. Their conversation would be highly repetitive - revolving around sleep, healthy meals, unhealthy ones and tantrums. They'd complain about partners and moan about how unsympathetic they were. The tribe members with older children would be less stooped, more healthy looking and would talk chiefly about schools, fancy dress costumes and the most edifying extra-curricular activities.
The anthropologists would set up camp, fully expecting to spend two, three maybe four months studying this tribe. On day one they'd scribble some notes. Day two they'd continue but they'd be going through the motions. By day three they'd be discussing their favourite brand of toothpaste because it was honest-to-God more interesting than watching this stuff. On day four they'd set down their binoculars, pack up their tents and leave.
I may be wrong. You may observe the self-same tribe and find them to be hilarious, lively and articulate ... and you're probably right. Not all Mums are negative automatons. It depends what type of day they're having. It just seems to me (as a Mum) that much of what I write (and read) covers more of the bummed out side of parenting. And all to often I speak to other parents and they seem to be complaining a lot too.
This set me thinking. What if we took all the negative sleep deprivation away? What are we really left with? Where are the fun things? And the joy?
So I made a list of things I've enjoyed about being a Mum (in no particular order).
1. Carrying my daughter on my hip
It's strange but I really enjoy walking about with my fifteen-month-old daughter on my right hip. It just feels...right. I don't think I'll enjoy it when she's eight but right now it's excellent. I especially like going to answer the front door with her balanced on one hip. It feels good. Like a cavewoman. It's not so great when you go to the loo (it's just annoying) but let's focus on the positives.
2. Having a bath together
I initially hated this. It's not comfortable being squashed up against the taps with a toddler poking you in the breasts and laughing cos they've gone all floppy. But now I've got more selfish. I like to lie flat on my back and take up as much space as possible. And my daughter enjoys it too because she gets to play with my toes whilst I pamper myself.
3. Going on a roundabout/slide/swing
I hate anything that goes fast. I can't go on a rollercoaster or the waltzers and I have a terrible fear of heights. It's sad because as a child I used to be a real daredevil and enjoyed nothing more than hanging upside down from the climbing frame. But now that I'm spending more time in playgrounds again I've discovered a more adventurous side to myself. I actually love going on a roundabout. And the same goes for the slide. I actually caught myself whooping yesterday. It was a tonic. After a night without sleep.
4. Dancing really badly
I used to be self conscious about the way I danced. You can always tell the people who are trying too hard. But now when I'm dancing with my daughter- in the kitchen, even out in public at some nursery singing group thing I dance like a proper plonker. I bend my knees like a ninny. It's really fun. It's liberating to let the square person inside come out and finally be allowed to dance as you really want to (rather than pretending you're in a hip hop video). I also don't care about my hair either which means I can have bad hair and bad dancing at the same time.
5. The smell of my daughters breath
Before I had a child everyone talked about the smell of a baby's head and how great it smelt- how this was serious Mum Nirvana. And I didn't get it. Then once I had a baby I'd watch as other Mums nuzzled their noses into their baby's head and gurned and I tried several times and...nothing. But then once my daughter got older and stood up, particularly if her face was right near my nose, I noticed how great her breath smelt. And this was after eating cat biscuits and fromage frais! In fact I'd probably put her breath at number one
So there we go. Five positive things about Motherhood. So perhaps the Mum tribe isn't a weary, neurotic, complaining one after all. There's actually a lot of good stuff.
I could have written at least 50 more.