Friday, 25 November 2011

The Message

If my life had a soundtrack right now, it would be the chorus of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” which keeps going round and round in my head. In fact, if recent conversations with friends are anything to go by, those lyrics pretty much sum up the feeling of every woman out there at this time of year. You might wonder how an 80’s American rap song about inner city violence, drugs and poverty relates to a 21st century English housewife, but if you read the lyrics below you might get a clue.

The man and me used to be a pretty good DIY team. But since we had kids, the man tends to do the work while I try and keep the kids from decapitating themselves with a circular saw, hammering a hole in the wall or transferring paint to a sippy cup to feed their dolly, or more scarily, themselves.

When we first looked around this house the woodchip in every room was a big problem for me but it was the sitting room with its 4 different designs of artex “decorating” the walls that filled me with the most dread. I knew we had a mammoth job on our hands and have been trying to ignore it but there is only so long you can tell yourself that the faux pub look is not skin crawlingly hideous.

So on Sunday morning, while the man and me were still revelling in our child free bliss, sitting in our PJ’s with a cuppa watching Something For The Weekend (it’s the little things), the man had a thought that maybe, just maybe the artex might just chip off. So we went at it with a butter knife and 5 days later no artex remains on the walls (shame the same can’t be said for our lungs, floors and sofas, being a spontaneous DIY job we didn’t take the usual precautions of masks and dustsheets).

But I was slack. In the midst of all this chaos, real life has to continue. Washing and cooking needs to be done, cleaning needs to take place, and lets not forget that 2 little people (one a two year old with a nasty cold, getting less sleep than even he is used to) also need to be fed, watered, kept (semi) clean and got to school on time. Oh and I also have a fledgling writing career and a writing course to attend to. But because I have been so occupied with DIY mayhem, I naively let everything except the bare essentials slip. Kids were fed and put to bed, but other than that, cleaning, washing and tidying (and even cooking) has taken a severe hit.

I thought I was coping with climbing over piles of dust covered stuff removed from the sitting room to get to bed, and that it didn’t matter that my washing pile wasn’t even a pile anymore, just random clothing draped across surfaces around the house. But this morning, after a harmless and only mildly sarcastic comment from the man, I got a bit weepy. He left to go to work, already late, son number 2 screaming because he’d thrown his Cheerios all over himself and son number 1 upset because he wanted to wear his Star Wars Tshirt and not his Superman T-shirt for dress down day, while Expensive Cats screamed at me for their breakfast, tripping me up as I tried to wipe Cheerio milk from the walls. Then I lost it. I shouted at son number 2 and walked off in a shaking rage.

The thing is, just the decorating, just the Superman T-shirt, just the 2 year old with a cold, just the housework, on their own are such tiny things that they hardly bare mention. But add it all up, plus the constant spectre of Christmas looming (and the knowledge that I haven’t done any Christmas shopping whatsoever, bad mummy) and it’s no wonder that women across the land are having meltdowns.

I have a sign in my kitchen that says “There are two choices for dinner, take it or leave it”, the words are good but the picture portrays a far more powerful message. It’s a 50’s housewive with a sparkling grin, immaculate hair, a nice pussy bow and a totally unnerving wild look in her eyes. It is a look that says “I’m smiling, I don’t have a hair out of place but I’m so close to the edge that if one person complains about their veg touching their sausage tonight they may end up with a fist in their mash.” But I know that this woman doesn’t just represent me. She represents every single woman out there, just skating along in the ice rink of life, enjoying the thrill but hoping we don’t smash into the ice and break a bone or three.

Son number 1 knows me so well. After my meltdown he calmly brought son number 2 to me and told him to apologise, then got the washing basket and filled it right up with as much washing as he could find. He came up to me and gave me a hug and said “I really like your look today Mummy”, then quietly went and put his Superman T-Shirt on. Take note all men, that’s how to deal with a woman on the edge.

Grandmaster Flash – The Message

Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head, ah huh-huh-huh
It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

1 comment:

  1. Beth, you are not alone! The Motherhood are with you all the way!