Friday, July 31, 2009

Identity Crisis

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a woman named Paula Burton who used to shave her legs, dry her hair and was even known on occasion to brush her teeth. These days the only thing i brush is my leg hair. Seriously, I'm looking down at so much designer stubble I feel like I'm wearing George Michael on my legs. Showers used to mean pampering, lathering, shampoo and conditioning. Now I just get wet. And baths...well, i thought I'd sneak one in and have a bath with Olive. Nothing finer than a tepid bath where the water line reaches your hips. Nope, things have definitely changed. I love the way that people excuse the size of your bum and thighs with comments like, "you just had a baby". I LOVE IT! But, why doesn't this extend to all aspects of motherhood? Just as i don't have time to exercise, i don't have time to wash. When i blurt out " I stink" or " gosh, when did i last brush my teeth?" why don't people feign that same courtesy and remind me that i just had a baby. Not smile and inch away or tell me i must make time for myself! Pah!
If it was just me and Olive I would happily allow her spit up to ferment between my cleavage but in order to remain married I am told this gives me incentive to "make an effort". Just like the old days when the waxing fairy would come in the night. Sigh. When i found time to floss the other night (prompted by said husband who was flossing alongside me) I found food that i couldn't remember eating. I looked in the mirror and wistfully remembered days where i would have time to veet and whitestrip. I wondered if my boobs would ever fit in a bra from Victoria's Secret again? Would I ever be one of those wives that is all dressed up with makeup and straight hair that wears cardigans with little buttons that never really fit in the holes from J Crew? I never expected to be this person so can i expect to be that person? Shudder.
A couple of months after the baby arrived people started offering to babysit insisting that you and husband need some quality time - a date. I had done the same thing to friends in the past. Resisting the immediate urge to tell them that we don't need quality time, just me. Please give me an hour to wash, no, to sleep - both. I could do both in an hour. 60 minutes is a lifetime. I don't say this however, i just thank them and have every intention of taking them up on their offer...except I don't ...because I'm terrified that my daughter will become hysterical when she realizes that I am not there and i will have emotionally scarred her for life. I never thought i would be this mum...I thought I would be so relaxed and cool about everything but it turns out that I'm nuts. I thought the same about being pregnant - i thought I'd be all European and enjoy wine and cheese on street corners in floaty dresses not flomp around in sweats panicking about the damage that one sip of red wine could cause. You can have the best of intentions but I'm quickly learning that all bets are off. I only pray that I'm never that parent that thinks it is okay for their child to run around a restaurant, squawking and yapping at other diners. Dear God, please don't let me become some freak that thinks that your child expressing themselves in any manner is a wonderful thing. Amen
So...this week I received a call offering me an audition. My first post baby audition. Thud. When i confirmed the appointment the night before, i quickly realized the terrifying consequences of my actions. I will need to shower. I will need to find something in my wardrobe that will fit me and not make me look like I am 20lbs heavier than my resume states. And then a couple of biggies...what will i do with my daughter? And, how will i get there? I chastised myself for agreeing to do this. Why? Why? Why? I had enough to do without adding this into the mix. Okay...I am woman. I am problem solver. I can do this. If i can squeeze that little monkey out, I can do this. I thought back to 80's movies with strong women with big hair and with the music to Working Girl running through my head i knew I could come through this.
I have a friend in Portland...okay, i have a couple. Well, they are Tom's friends but they have been nice enough to befriend me. They are wonderful and so lovely that i think if we were Mormons I would like them to be my sister wives. Anyhow, said wonderful friend agrees to take me to my audition and watch Olivia in the car whilst I pop in and pretend to be someone that i used to be pretending to be something that I'm not. Still with me? Let me back up...The day began at a leisurely 7am. I feed Olivia, snuggle her, change her and put her in the Even Flo exersaucer (brilliant) This will buy me 10-12 minutes. I pour a coffee (programmed the night before - brilliant) and run to the shower. Throw myself in. Wash hair ( that is now dropping out at an alarming rate - nobody warned me about this post-partum hair loss treat), condition hair. Lather legs, shave armpits, shave legs...manage to blunt a razor, wash face. Rinse hair. Pull said hair out of butt crack - I'm telling you, I'm losing so much hair - it's like a small child's wig that i remove each day. Hop out. Run into other room to check on Olive making sure that she doesn't see me. Run back. Deodorant on. Moisturize legs and arms realizing how many hairs i missed on legs - faintly hear Careless Whisper...block it out with Carly Simon. Moisturize face. Rub hair with towel. Down coffee. Pull on undies, shorts and T shirt. Run back into other room, sing They're Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace whilst marching like a loon. Get a giggle. Run back to bathroom - apply makeup. Breathe. Get Olivia - bring her into the bedroom while i try and find something that will give the impression of a BBC news reporter. I am woman. I am strong. Find a dress that works from my Goldman days when i was first pregnant. It's black. Of course. Get some gripper knickers out. Put dress on then realize that chances of keeping it clean before we head out the door are slim to none. Back in shorts and T shirt. Dry hair whilst trying to sing above noise to amuse Olivia. Brush my balding locks. Spray perfume, run in and out of it. Grab lip gloss. Grab Olivia. Go. Rehearse lines in elevator. Meet said amazing friend. Load up baby. Follow mapquest directions to some random place and run in the door. Breathe. As i sit and wait to go in, i am aware of several things. I am clean. I smell good. I have left Olivia with someone i have met 4 times. I forgot to brush my teeth.
The rest of the day I was on a tremendous high. Some guy in a coffee shop asked me if i knew i looked like Debra Messing. I spent a delicious afternoon rolling with Olivia. Then we napped holding hands on the bed. I was just about to pour myself a congratulatory glass of white wine when i got a call asking me to go back for a 2nd audition. Thud. How the heck was i supposed to do this twice? I tried to picture Melanie Griffith on the Staten Island Ferry but just kept seeing Sinead O'Connor crying in the Nothing Compares To You video. Hmm, Okay... sister wives were out of commission - not even i was that rude. MIL was still out of town. Started to sweat. Heavily. Who do i know? Who can i call? Finally, our incredible niece came to the rescue offering to pick me up on her way back from work. However, on this day of firsts, it was also 107 degrees outside and i couldn't take Olivia in a car without air conditioning no matter how much mama needed a new pair of shoes. When said niece arrived, I grabbed her car keys, kissed her and told her I would back as soon as i could. Olivia had just eaten and was in her exersaucer. All i asked was that she kept Sophie the deadly giraffe out of commission. I didn't say goodbye to Olivia, didn't stop to think, knowing that if i thought this through I wouldn't go. I hopped in the car and tried to remember how to drive. The rest is history. I came home that evening on a tremendous high. I had managed to smell good and abandon my daughter in one day. No babysteps for me.  I felt like Shania Twain in leopard print.
The truth is that like many mums that go back to work it must be incredibly difficult. I had but a taste of it today and it was hard. I had to remind myself that I have no memory of that age so what I'm feeling is about me not her. I get tremendous joy from being with Olivia each day and i realize just how blessed I am to have this time in my life to be with her but what did today tell me? That I'm still Paula Burton underneath being mummy Bain. That becoming a mum didn't cancel out my other life and best of all i can be both at the same time or at least in the same day? I think so. The lines on these identities were smudged and before today i had been unsure that that could become a reality. I left Olivia smiling and returned to a still happy baby. So far I see no evidence of any emotional scarring...
So, what's the next step? Well, the sky's the limit...We have a happy baby and a clean and happy mummy. I also have a date with my husband this evening and while my breasts may not fit in Victoria's Secret bras any longer, my butt still happily hangs out of their knickers...with imagery such as that you can bet I'll have a happy husband...;)

And...would you believe, i ended up booking the job?!


  1. You got the part?! Amazing! Seriously, this is all quite ridiculous and wonderful. Keep it up, dear!

  2. You are a hoot! I'm so glad you are writing it down. Miss you all so much! Love you!

  3. hair loss.....elaine lordan takes her revenge....

  4. I laughed so much at Debra Messing, as every time I see her on telly I think of you!!! Well done on clawing back a little of the old you.

  5. Great post! haha, loved the part where you forgot to brush your teeth! I also have never heard anyone mention hair loss after giving birth?? That is a new one.


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