Motherhood arrived pretty early for me. Not by historical standards, but in my world I was definitely a young mum.
I loved it. I owned it. I thrived.
I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately, the advantages and disadvantages of parenting in your early twenties as opposed to later on when things are more established, stable, and self assured.
I’ll share my musings with you about this in another blog, but it took me back to the time it was my turn to host playgroup.
We were new to this town. I definitely felt the pressure of making a great ‘first impression’ amongst the mums I hoped would become friends, so I started preparing for my playgroup debut days in advance. There was chaotic mess everywhere. Dirty laundry, clean laundry, craft projects, dishes, toys, half empty packing boxes.
So first things first. Packing boxes to the shed. This, as I was soon to discover, became my undoing. Or my saviour, depending which viewpoint you choose.
I loved this house. It had a gorgeous homely vibe, and a long driveway that meandered 30 odd metres past a manicured rose garden and a neat little sand pit, to a huge barn with imposing timber doors.
I actually couldn’t believe what I’d achieved. The house was clean. The kids had clothes on. (Well for now anyhow. Never a guarantee they would remain that way, but I was at least starting out giving the impression that my kids wore clothes.) I even baked a cake.
I had spoken to some of these mums at kinder, and loosely attended the odd ‘coffee at the playground’ meet-up, but to be honest I still hadn’t worked out if any of them were my people. I’ve learnt in later years that my intuition is pretty trustworthy, but for some reason with this particular group of ‘hip' mums, my need to be part of the clan jaded my better judgement, and I kept on persevering until it exhausted me.
This is where I start to giggle. The next bit. The universal leveling power of kids and their ability to absolutely smash through and OBLITERATE the pretence of us stupid adults, trying to mould ourselves into a space that we are just never going to fit.
There’s some polite, (if not stilted) conversation happening as we sit around in our glass-walled, sun bathed living area. Coffees all round, and the cake recipe discussed. (They were definitely either pretending they didn’t know it was straight out of a packet, or hoping to trip me up by asking for the recipe. Either way, it gave us something to talk about while we established…well….something to talk about!!)
Kids are playing remarkably well. Not naked yet. Tick.
Healthy snacks remain untouched, but at least for now I’m giving the impression that I’m a bloody gun and my kids don’t eat sugar. (Tick. Tick.)
Enter middle child.
Hold your breath people. This is gold.
Out of the very corner of my periphery, as I feed my newborn in the corner chair, I notice something odd. The tiniest sunbeam glinting through the centre join in the barn doors, as if an internal draft is moving them around. I must’ve forgotten to bolt it. No big deal.
PIVOTAL, humiliating, embarrassingly big deal.
My heart stops dead. My breastfeeding baby fusses, acutely aware of the change in my demeanour, and I am instantly concreted to my chair as this slo-mo nightmare unfolds.
‘Can’t we just throw this box to the tip?’
It’s a flashback.
‘Yep. I will. Tomorrow’
This. is. silent. hell.
My stark naked, white-blonde two year old dramatically throws his head skyward, heralding his parade with a volumous ‘Do-DOOOOOO-do DoooooOOOO-OOOOO', as he marches with the pride of a soldier towards our wall of sunbathed windows, triumphantly informing the world that the battle has been fought and heroically won. He jubilantly cradles the massive, vascular, ugly rubber penis firmly to his forehead, stretching to the heavens as his song reached its intense crescendo.
He sings his way right up to the glass, behind which I am breast-feeding an unsettled newborn and hosting a stuffy, pretentious mother’s group. He squashes his face up to the glass until he can see me, overbalancing the penis which thwacks against the window, but he skillfully stops it from falling, wedging it between his happy little squashed face and the entire goddam mothers group.
Which gives him a better idea.
‘I a ’NOCEROUS!!'
Such gleeful exuberance. An untainted, innocent imagination, and the kind of trust in his own terrific ideas that we know will be whittled away as the ‘growing up’ happens.
But oh boy. The timing.
The moment of reckoning.
I started laughing. I couldn’t help it…and it got more hilarious as the group became increasingly awkward. They were definitely not laughing. They were embarrassed. Disgusted even.
The moment I realised that these people were not mine.
I resisted the urge to explain…One part of me wanted to tell them it was just a silly prop…an unopened gift from a serial practical joker which, at the time and in its context, was possibly even quite funny. But it was also in that moment of stunned silence that I realised something.
I didn’t need to explain a thing.
It was a release. A RELIEF!! A stripping bare of all the exhausting pretence. My kid was naked at the window holding an oversized penis on top of his head his head, and all I could do was silently thank him for rescuing me from the vortex.
Sometimes, even with all the wisdom we think we possess as adults, it takes a child to show us what’s actually real.