Normally I work as a lawyer. That is, when I'm not on maternity leave and facilitating 24-7 backstage boobie access. It's an an occupation that has equipped me with a formidable skill-set, the most important of which is an almost religious adherence to the first commandment of the profession: Read before signing! Read Contracts. Read Memorandums of Understanding. Read credit card receipts for snazzy shoes sneakily snapped up whilst shopping...then dispose of the evidence in a forensically untraceable manner.
But the last big contract I signed was a doozy. A contract of marriage. I've got to admit I was a little distracted before I signed. Maybe my optimistically tight corset was starving my brain of its vital oxygen supply. Maybe the 'up-do' I'd reluctantly succumbed to, with its accompanying battalion of bobby pins and radical relocation of my eyebrows two centimetres to the north meant that I didn't have my game face on that day. I'm not entirely certain of just whose game face I did have on but it looked so startled that it might have just witnessed either an alien invasion or the arrival of a massive tax refund cheque.
Perhaps I was so completely distracted with the task of saying my vows loudly enough to be heard above the torrential rain drumming on the gazebo roof that I slipped up and broke that first commandment...I didn't exactly read all of the fine print. So now I find myself asking, "where did I sign up for this?'
Where did I sign up for the indentured servitude that is picking up everyone else's undies, wee-sodden pull ups and a shipwrecked flotilla of toenail clippings from the bathroom floor?
Where did I sign up for collecting, sorting, washing, drying, ironing, folding and redistributing everyone else's laundry? And then doing it over and over and over again?
Where did I sign up to be the Pet Monitor, the only person in the whole house who notices when the water bowl is almost empty and that the poor dog is on the verge of ravenously gnawing off her own leg?
Where did I ever sign up for planning all of the meals, making the dinner, dishing it up to a chorus of 'you know I hate beans / brown bread /(insert today's offending food item here) and then having to do all the washing up as well? Usually all as an entree before I sit down to eat my own dinner cold?
Where did I ever sign up for a family 'holiday' away where the only adventure is trying to work out how to do all of the above in a damp and smelly tent without my sanity-savers; the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer?
Where did I sign up for a trumpeting fart in my ear, foot to the face or the yanked ponytail at 2am because Miss Four is afraid of the dark and refuses to sleep in her own bed?
Where did I sign up for the sudden projectile vomit, warm, lumpy and pungent, down the front of my nightie, through my hair and into my one and only comfortable clean bra?
Or the feverish baby that needs to be held all night so the rise and fall of her chest can be anxiously watched?
Come to think of it, where did I sign up for midnight toothless kisses from the last baby I will ever have?
Where did I sign up for the handmade Mother's Day card with the wonky green glitter love heart that I will trace over with my fingertips for years to come, every time I find it in the dresser drawer?
Where did I sign up for the softly-spoken but staunchly loyal and loving husband? The one who held me and sobbed with me when our hairy daughter (our 13 year old dog) died of cancer the very same night we brought our newborn baby home from hospital? The one who convincingly pretends that my stupid jokes are still funny even after almost a decade of marriage? The same one who visited me every single one of the 73 days I spent in hospital with broken bones or recovering from surgery, caesarians or accidents? Who stayed with me and held my hand when I got 44 staples removed from my leg? Who gently encouraged me when I learned to walk on it again?
What's that? I didn't sign up for that?! Quick, pass me the contract! Where do I sign?