I wrote this about two years ago. I rediscovered it today in the process of tidying up my computer files. Stills sums up how I feel about being a Mother…
My daughter has emerged from her Bob the Builder phase and is firmly ensconced in her Wiggles one. Every afternoon at 5pm I turn on the Playhouse Disney Channel and there they are – Gregg (or his replacement Sam on the new episodes), Jeff, Murray and Anthony. I am intimately acquainted with each of their habits, mannerisms and skivvy colours. I’m quite keen on Wags the Dog, but the pirate gets on my nerves. As for the Octopus, I have just one word to say: Why? (And can someone please shoot that bloody dinosaur; her little girl screech is like fingernails on a blackboard.)
But I digress. I first noticed the Blue one as he sashayed around the giant Wiggles stage trying to look excited about fruit salad. Normally I walk past the television as I am cooking dinner/cleaning up/ rushing to bring the washing in/snatching five seconds of peace, glancing up briefly to make sure Ella isn’t doing head stands on the couch or wiping her nose on the cushions.
But this time, something else caught my eye. Something Blue and Wiggly. Goodness, I thought, that one is quite dishy. I watched him twirl, stretch and leap. What was under that blue skivvy? I felt vaguely disturbed by the fact that I was having not-so-innocent imaginings about a man dancing with a giant dog in front of hundreds of three-year-olds.
The next afternoon I was on the couch at 4.55. Ella was a little confused by my enthusiasm. And Lord help us, the first segment featured Anthony in bed. I could see sweat glistening on his brow as he snored. I started fidgeting.
“There’s Anthony!” squealed Ella.
“I know darling”, I said, clearing my throat. “He’s in bed, isn’t he?”
“He’s got no clothes on, just jammies on!” exclaimed my angelic little daughter.
I thought it prudent at that point to leave the room.
I told a friend at playgroup about my mini-crush. She laughed hysterically, then looked thoughtful. The next week she had an interesting titbit of trivia that she whispered to me conspiratorially:
“Cleo Bachelor of the Year 1999.”
Aha! Vindication! I may be over 40 and the stay-at-home mother of a small child, but my Hunk-o-Meter was obviously still in good working order.
Not long after that I came across a woman’s magazine interview with Antony, his wife and three children. Apparently he had been receiving letters and photos (ugghh) from women asking if he was single, and if so, would he be interested?
At least I wasn’t one of those weirdos who sends famous men little packages with their dirty panties in them. Or a lonely Days of our Lives addict who eats cereal with a spoon straight from the packet and squeezes whipped-cream-in-a-can into her mouth while penning obscene letters to afternoon infomercial hosts. My silly little crush was pretty reasonable, really.
The whole incident made me think about how enormously and profoundly my life has changed since becoming a mother. Three years ago I had no idea who Captain Feathersword was, or that Dorothy is a dinosaur who grows red roses, or that Jeff is always sleepy. (Thank Heaven it’s not Anthony who is always taking himself off to bed. Then I’d be in real trouble.)
Now, I can sing the entire Bob the Builder theme song off by heart. I have revisited all the nursery rhymes of my childhood (a thousand times over) and have the movements to “The Wheels on the Bus” down pat. I get excited when I find the perfect set of plastic fairy wings in the Two Dollar Shop. I’m learning to facepaint. And I can talk about the intricacies of potty training, starting solids and moving from cot to big bed with the ease of an expert.
Funnily enough, I don’t feel shackled by all of this, nor that my brain has turned to mush. I have simply had my eyes opened to a whole new world, with Ella as my intrepid little guide. There have been “adult” bonuses too. I think I have made more new friends in the last three years than I did in the ten years previous. I have new skills and knowledge that would fill a textbook. I have formed a book club with other mothers and read some fabulous books I would never have even considered reading. And every day I am learning more about who my little girl is, and what she needs from me, and how we can be together as mother and daughter.
My life is richer, more difficult, more tiring, more complicated, more challenging and more amazing now that I have Ella. What’s more, I have a whole new set of male possibilities to ponder.
As I watched Anthony and the other Wiggles galloping around on pretend horses today, I couldn’t help but cast my mind back to my university Shakespeare lectures.
O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!
I think I need to get out more.