Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Resistance

You hear the horror stories but you rush in, head first. Foolhardy, blissfully ignorant, cocky even. But being a mother is as awfully visceral as any horror movie you ever saw. Today, an example. After a morning of doing everything for Bub, I realise I haven’t eaten a thing. I put her in her bouncinette (they have absurd names for all baby products. Somehow it gives them licence to charge you more for them. The Bug-A-Boo Frog is a pram that costs over a thousand dollars.)

As I start to prepare my food I hear her squeezing out a monstrous poo. Good, I think. It means the system’s working. I’ll detach myself from the disgusting reality of making brunch in the company of a defecator, eat and then deal with the mess. During my meal I hear her squeezing more. She seems very pleased with herself so I plough quickly through my pasta, shove a kiwi fruit down my gob and lift her up. Poo. Everywhere. All over her jumpsuit, all over the bouncinette (which is looking a little less perky now) and all over my hands. She smiles at me - enjoyed your meal, did you?

I realise I have to take her straight to the bath. A quick undress, into the water and… the bell rings. The dog goes ballistic, jumping at the door. I pull O out the bath and answer the door. The grocery delivery man, someone who may have been the subject of my porn fantasies in another lifetime, disengages the dog from his balls and dumps the food down. I assure him I’ll pay next time, it’s just impossible now. Sorry, he says, still clutching his gonads, you have to pay now.

Wet baby in hand, rabid dog at feet, I seek out the credit card. I rid myself of delivery boy and start drying bub, meticulously cleaning the brown morass off every fold. She’s starting to get grumpy. I clean her, dry her, cream her. I look for clean clothes. Everything seems to be in the wash. I manage to find a fresh jumpsuit at the bottom of the cupboard and change her into it. Ffffwwwoooo. Exhale. Sparkly as new. The phone rings. I pick her up. She vomits. All over herself, all over me, all over the new towel I’ve just put down. It’s a pumpkin and milky mix and it hammers. On the phone, the producer, LK, who has been offering me the most amazing work at the one time in my life I can't take it. Talking to LK through the vomit, I put O back down and start to clean the goo off everything. LK offers me an absurdly interesting job. I literally tell her to call me in a year. She seems put out. I go back to cleaning O. When finally finished, I ask her Would you like to excrete anything else? Wee in my ear perhaps? She laughs. Spit up my nose? A big giggle. Poo down my mouth? Hysteria. It becomes clear. She planned this all along.

Don’t be fooled by ‘doctors’, ‘scientists’ and ‘psychologists’ who tell you babies come into this world with a tabula rasa – a blank slate. They’re here with an agenda. Total annihilation of their mothers. Not with guns or bombs, but with the slow erosion of our sanity. Poo by poo, vomit by vomit, they’re taking us down. Anyone who wants to join the resistance, get in touch. Our first meeting starts Monday at noon. Or it may be one if she needs a sleep. Or maybe two ‘cos she might need to feed. Actually, I may be too exhausted on Monday, can we make it Tuesday…

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...

In the Kabbalah, there is a principle that every family is made to be together, either to teach each other the lesson their souls need to learn in this life, or because they will match each others temperament in a way that makes it possible to live together and learn from each other. But I reckon some people just get the wrong parents. Through no fault of their own, they land with their complete mismatch. I witnessed this on Saturday night at my friend LB’s thirtieth birthday party. She is the antithesis of her parents. Them: wealthy, influential, conservative. Her: earthy, socially conscious, altruistic. Nonetheless, they clearly love her, and despite the fact that she has a nice Jewish girlfriend they would rather pretend was a nice Jewish boyfriend, they still try to get along. So when she was planning her party and didn’t invite them, they were disappointed. Feeling guilty, she sent them a last minute invite. But LB’s parents are not the type to simply sit back and be guests at their eldest child’s coming of age shindig. They insisted on organising alcohol, buying elaborate cakes, and generally making their presence strongly felt. When I walked in to the restaurant, I asked LB how it was all going with her folks there. She nervously answered that as long as they didn’t make any speeches, she’d be happy.

The night progressed and The Parents seemed to know their place. Then, just as LB looked like she was finally starting to relax, a tapping on glass. Her mother, C, a well-heeled American from Scarsdale, New York, wanted our attention. Oh no, grumbled LB. I thought I said no speeches! C smiled. This isn’t a speech, she said. She proceeded to hand out colour photocopied sheets with music and lyrics on them. Five different songs, each with the words adapted to reflect LB’s personality (or at least her mother’s perception of it) and the fact that she was turning thirty / getting old / starting to wither slowly towards death. I’ll paraphrase an example. To the tune of Aint She Sweet:

Aint she Sweet
With a Figure so Petite
Now I ask you quite rhetorically
Aint She Sweet

Such cute knees
She defends those refugees…

And other, more absurd things that I’ve blocked from my memory out of care for my friend. Then there was Thirty Years sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice.

Thirty Years, Thirty Years
Hard to Believe
Hard to Believe
She likes English lit and she knows every plot
She’s into human rights and she sure talks a lot
Thirty Years

The more mortified LB was, the more enthused her mother became. To C’s credit, she had the crowd obeying her every command, singing rounds of different songs, changing pitch when she asked us to. At one point LB’s sister shouted out “Who misses teaching?” in a not so oblique reference to the fact that C used to teach primary school and was reprising her role, complete with the encouraging tone young children (and sophisticated, urbane thirtysomethings, apparently) respond well to.

The whole thing went on for about fourty minutes, during which time LB chugged down more alcohol than her ‘petite figure’ could possibly handle.

LB was then called on to make a speech. She said something about pay back for all of us who encouraged the behaviour. We laughed, secretly nervous that it wasn’t funny at all.

In the car home, I realised there was a part of me that was really envious of how involved her mother was. However misguided the song session was, it took a lot of effort and thought on C’s behalf. My mother, who is an independent, interesting, go-getting feminist role model, would never have had the time or inclination to do anything as absurd for me. I’m not saying I’d like C for a mother. I’m pretty sure if I grew up with her, I’d be as horrified as LB was to be sung to in a way that essentialised her most complex characteristics. But the teeniest part of me was impressed at the commitment her mother had, the lack of concern about making a fool of herself, and the desire to go out on a limb to turn a simple dinner into an occasion that few of us will forget.

I wonder if I’ll turn out to be just the right match for little O, or if, at her thirtieth, I’ll keep quietly to myself, not daring to sing to her, only to find out that that’s what she would have wanted most.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Tragic Eighties

I did it again. Cried in the car. This time it was Joe Jackson who set me off. Won't you be my number two, me and number one are through. How awful. Feel old today. But not rich.

Went to the doc again with O. He's happy with her progress and said she was very bright. I bet he says that to all the babes.

And in good news... I re-wrote the first scene of my script. A whole scene and then the bub needed me. I usually do up to eight scenes in a day. But one's a start.

Is a Balanced Mother an Oximoron?

Juggle, juggle, juggle. Struggle, struggle, struggle. Am yet to finish one task properly. Woke up this morning, as I do every morning, to the dulcit tones of hungry bub cries. When will bub learn to feed self? Must invent machine which administers milk to bub using heat sensor to determine where her mouth is. But would probably get to the bit just before I had it working and not be able to finish it. Am avoiding working on my script like Muslims avoid alcohol (or like Americans avoid Muslims). Every time I see it sitting on my desk I dodge out the room. Even considered prodding sleeping baby to make her cry so I had an excuse not to work. Is that technically abuse?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Wanted: Kindly Grandmother with No Life of Own

I am involved in The Babysitting Wars of 2005. Now that little O is on the road to recovery, I may at last be able to say YES! to some form of work and finally get going on the next Oh-Good-Lord-Please-Let-Me-Get-It-Done draft of my screenplay. But for the fact that my mother and mother-in-law have craftily formed a rebellious alliance and have started to refuse to baby sit. Not in a ‘screw you and your dreadful spawn’ kind of way. More a ‘I have my own life and it happens just when you need me to babysit’ kind of way. This means that I’m endlessly having to re-arrange everything because my mother-in-law has a bridge game/haircut/colonic irrigation or my mother has decided to take on even more work than she’s already doing. God Forbid there should be any space in her life not filled with work. Hence, just when I’ve finally decided to emerge from my cocoon of tracksuit pants and daytime telly, the Rebel Two have simultaneously told me to stuff my two days a week – they’ve got plans.

Have been checking out day-care centres. Oh gentle souls these places are not for the squeamish. Reminiscent of Charles Dicken-esque orphanages, the ones I can afford have scores of snotty-nosed sproglets lying on makeshift beds in dark rooms, making a collective moaning noise. Mooooooaaaannn.... On a recent visit to a community centre that had been recommended to me, I opened the door to see what the facilities were like. A teary eyed girl grabbed her backpack and sprung up to me. Mommy? Home? She asked. I nearly said yes, just to stop her lip wobbling. Not that I can actually get little O into any of these places. Most of them have a 12 month waiting list. So for now, I’m trying to devise cunning plans to get the Rebel Two on side. Hell, I’ll even give my mother-in-law a home colonic if it gets me more hours…

And I've just spent the weekend at an intensive Jewish Learning seminar. Interesting lectures. Pity the place was swarming with Jews.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I want it, I don't, I want it...

So annoyed was I by being overlooked for the jobette that I thought I’d show them what they were missing out on. I wrote a 2 page document of ideas that appeared casual and off the top of my head but were actually carefully considered and researched. I sent it in to the director with my CV. I received a reply a few hours later, dripping with regret that they didn’t hire me. He said he was going to ask his producer for extra money just so he could ‘use’ me for a day of brainstorming, and then get more money for me to write the proposal. He reiterated that he’s sorry he was so hasty to hire someone else. He sounds like a fabulous guy. He wants to meet me next week.

Now this is where I’m really weird. I wanted him to be sorry. I wanted him to think I was marvellous. I didn’t actually want him to offer me another job. I’m not sure if it’s the whole looking for childcare fandango (something that’s proved quite difficult thus far) or if I’m just using that as an excuse. I just feel so very tired. And conflicted. And I have a heinous cold sore on my lips that’s making me feel like a creepy old letch.

I wrote back a sexy little response about being flat out at the moment and then, without realising what I was doing, I offered to proof read the proposal. I’m like a job cocktease – I get them all lubed up and then I run out the room.

I wonder if I’ll ever feel unambiguous about taking work again?