Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You know you're a mother when...

...You go out in 20 degree weather with wind chills making it feel like single digits. You find yourself wading through snow after a massive blizzard just to get emergency supplies from the grocery store. You have only your two frozen hands and know you must have equal distribution to save you from slipping on your way home.
You have been trapped indoors with a toddler for 9 hours. You have seen so much Caillou that you worry your own child might never grow hair.
And then you find yourself in the midst of a dilemma that can only be described as of ginormous proportion.

Wine or diapers.


You find yourself in the checkout clutching pampers. You know you look like a hag. You have no makeup on, hair pulled back, an angry zit that is bubbling under the surface and feels like a bruise on your chin. A woolly hat that won't sit on your head properly so it looks like a wizard's cone and your teeth feel furry no matter how many times you rub your tongue over them. Worse still, you have a visible granny knickers line through your jeans because you are wearing bikini bottoms. Then, just to top off the class act, as you rummage around in your altogether too large purse for your wallet, you put your handmade Estonian red mitten in your mouth and try and make a noise that could convey - "debit, I'm paying by debit".

Even the guy bagging your groceries doesn't find you attractive.

The irony is that you need a drink more than ever. The reality is you are going home to change a diaper and then later find a pebble of poop on the couch that escaped. Worse still, after gorging yourself all week you actually wonder for a second, if it is a leftover Lindt truffle that got away. You pick it up and before putting it close to your nose you realize - no, that's poop that my thumb and forefinger are holding.

You need a drink.

I am a walking contraceptive for under age sex.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Yesterday I walked past a man in Grand Central Station that had the exact same smell of my father when I was a child. It caught me by surprise and I came to a complete stop. I was immediately taken back to Christmas Eve and my father pouring cocktails for his daughters. I was perhaps 13 and being handed a glass of something sour and foul to toast with that I would insist on finishing, while sneakily trying a taste of every other glass at the table. Hey, why not? I wasn't driving.

This is my favorite memory of my family. My father. He would return home late afternoon on Christmas Eve. He would slink into the house and enlist one of us, his daughters to wrap a last minute gift for my mother. Of course, in reality it would have been purchased weeks before by his assistant and it was an elegantly concealed cover up for his other doings. He was drunk to my mother. He was fun to the three of us. He was laughing, dancing and he was home. We were wooed by this man. A man in hand tailored suits, shiny spats and a glint in his eye that every other man in our lives would be forced to compete with. We were terrified and thrilled by him on any given day, but on Christmas Eve he only had eyes for his girls. He was ours for the day. Or so we thought.

Truth is he had already had three too many. He was already fed and would ruin my own mother's hard work by not clearing his plate as her bountiful feast deserved. As the courses neared dessert we knew we were losing him. As Santa Clause approached he retreated into himself. That must be why my mother was the one dragging pillowcases to the bottom of our beds in the middle of the night.

I can see my mum looking at his mum and my Nana throwing daggers at my father's father urging him to pull his son in line. By the time we cleared the dishes, he would be in bed. Exhausted from eating two Christmas dinners, from drinking enough to entertain two families, from the pretence, no doubt.

Of course, we didn't know this at the time. Not until later. Not until much later did we realize where our new toys would disappear to in the days and weeks that followed Christmas. Why my mother would dread him returning late and had to stifle her anger that he had cajoled us into believing he was the ultimate romantic; that he had been out for hours finding the perfect gift for his beautiful wife. Instead of eating with his other family. His secret family.

One moment in Grand Central this week, 3000 miles from where I grew up and at least 20 years from those special evenings and I can still smell the Christmas tree in the room, can still see the scrunched up wrappers on the dinner table from the After Eight mints we ploughed through. I see my grandfather reaching down to pick up his paper crown and my Nana's arthritic fingers fiddling with her charm bracelet. I see my beautiful mother in my memories but I always see her from behind. She is always at the sink in my mind, or at the window arranging flowers.

Christmas Eve always packs a punch in my heart because of these memories. They are not bad. I only have to remember setting the dinner table to Wham's Last Christmas and see my sister on the phone to her boyfriend, so irritated that I won't leave the room and give her some privacy and I smile. It just makes me all the more aware of our own little family unit and the importance of making our own little traditions and the memories that we will create. No pressure, huh?

Funny thing is - I already bought Tom cologne for Christmas from Olive. I'll have to remind him that with great smell comes great responsibility. Or something like that...