I have always found the notion of disappearing both haunting and fascinating. There is something a little bizarre and maybe a little bit funny about someone, all of a sudden, just not being there. When I sneak a peek through my fingers as I ‘hide’ from the baby in our game of mid dinner peepo, his face is so wound up with glee, excitement and that little tiny bit of terror, just in case I have really, really gone this time. Obviously when I have popped up and shouted, “PEEPO!” the mystery is over and the baby shrieks with joy and sprays bits of half chewed toast all over his tray, but for that split second from behind my hands I do see a look of panic start to set in.
This is not the kind of disappearing act I want to write about though. I am not disappearing from my kids. I am disappearing from myself.
Here are a few recent moments when I have thought this;
1., Treating myself to a bottle of Cif.
I usually buy very basic cleaning products. I can get most cleaning jobs done with either washing up liquid, bleach or a mix of the two (or just not do any cleaning) but the other week as I stood in the cleaning and household aisle at the supermarket I decided to go for it and treat myself to some branded specialist cleaning products like Cif stuff and items I normally think are a waste of money and materials like floor wipes and disposable cloths. TREAT MYSELF! I decided to TREAT MYSELF to some mother f***ing CLEANING PRODUCTS!!
2., Generally letting myself go.
On one hand it is quite liberating but at the same time I could really try a bit harder. I was talking to a rather honest friend who, when I mentioned that Arthur was sometimes sleeping through the night asked,
“Well why do you look so bloody awful then?”
I shrug and say,
“I just don’t wear make up most days anymore. I don’t have time and I can’t be bothered.”
“Well,” she says, looking at me in a concerned way, “maybe you should.”
I used to never ever leave the house without at least a little bit of make up on. Now, it’s quite common for me to leave the house with one boob out of bra, which I only notice half way down the road when I have the odd sensation that more of me is moving around than it should be.
3., The contents of my freezer.
I actually am, or maybe was, a chef. I used to spend my Saturday nights churning out beautiful plates of food with fresh and truly local ingredients, some of it travelling from farm to plate in less than twelve hours. I did this for years full of 60+ hours a week, service after service, day after day. Hard work and love and passion going into every element on the plate, but let me confess something awful. In my freezer right now there are (don’t tell anyone) birds eye potato waffles and fish fingers. There are breaded onion rings. There are hash browns. Why? You may ask. Well, I don’t do it every night, not at all, but I just need, really need some dinners where I just get some stuff out of the freezer and put it on a tray and then put it in the oven and that is it.
I know how to prep food in such a way that I can have lovely dishes ready fast. It is all about Mise En Place, a French term meaning ‘put in place’ used in kitchens as a title for each prep list of jobs to get done in order to be ready for service. Also used as an insult for when you’ve been a pillock and, for example, are running out of a certain chopped herb to finish a certain dish and are manically prepping whilst cooking for service thus holding yourself and everyone up.
“MISE EN PLACE!!” Someone will shout at you which basically means, ‘get sorted’ and, ‘you’re a twat’ all at the same time.
Anyway, I have no prep time now, just a short window of tea drinking between the kids bedtime and my bed time and a whole load of other shit (quite literally) that needs putting in the right place around the house.
4., Remembering to eat.
Sometimes just before I leave the bathroom after changing the baby and helping Audrey in the loo and washing hands etc I decide to go for a pee myself and it is just such a relief because I realise that I haven’t gone all morning. I must have felt that I needed to but just kept putting it off until I had a spare minute.
I have done the same with eating. I have never ever been the kind of person who forgets to eat. It is one of my favourite things to do but even I, who never misses a chance to eat have found myself with a horrible tummy pain at two o’clock in the afternoon and thought, ‘ what is this?’ before realising that I am just hungry and haven’t eaten all day. It’s not about busyness. Busyness has never stopped me from eating. It’s just being so consumed by the needs of others (the kids) that I forget about my own.
So, there you go, I am disappearing.
Where I exist now is not so much here but more in between. I now exist in between my crying children and my arms, between my stupidest faces and noises and their giggles and shrieks. I am a series of partially met needs. I am a series of partially cracked jokes.
I am a rather rough looking, potato waffle cooking, loose boobed Mum. I smell of Cif and baby poo. There is no make up on my face, only partially chewed, sprayed out bits of breadcrumbs.
I have gone for now.