Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A quick 180 on Super Woman

As some of you lurkers and regulars might recall, yesterdays blog article revolved around my disgust for a so-called ‘Super Woman’ who either never bothered to stick around for her two sons’ half hour tennis lesson, or stayed there and worked the entire time, never looking up to watch them. (

After posting the blog, I went to pick up Sapphire from school and, as usual, she busied herself on the monkey bars with her friends (all aged under eight of course, as kids older than that escape like cockroaches when the fridge is dragged to the side: it’s deathly uncool to hang around at school after the bell has gone). Our subject matter turned to the weekend and what we all did. Super Woman was mentioned and, predictably, got the same tsk tsk why did she even bother to squeeze the kids out, etc.

Our own cherubs were now deeply involved in some form of chasey game around the quadrangle, out-of-hours-school-care building, the library and the drinking taps. All was, despite the noise and activity, serene. No-one was dobbing, crying, injured or sulking. We mothers stood in the warm sunshine and geared up for a chat. Bec had obviously considered the situation of Super Woman in the minutes between wiping one year old Lucy’s nose and making sure that all of the gum-nuts were out of her mouth. “You know, maybe Super Woman is separated and has to do it all herself.” I rolled my eyes back dramatically, “Oh man, now I feel like a total bitch!” This mock empathy immediately vanished when I added, “But she was in a brand new Mercedes four wheel-drive. She’s not starving and can obviously afford a nanny or child psychologist/disciplinarian/whatever.”

Deb strolled over to join us, resplendent in her orange op-shop arty farty outfit that only she could carry off with confidence. At nearly eight, her eldest son Angus was still out there enjoying himself, and her youngest, at one, resembling a white-blonde McDonald’s soft serve, was following Lucy around in an effort to get his hands on a rice cracker. “Even with all of her money and high-powered job, perhaps she’s just dying for a few minutes on her own,” Deb offered.
“Yeah yeah, we all know what that feels like. So I’m slapping down one of my own sisters am I?” Bec was clearly warming to Super Woman. “I get she dropped her boys off and then drove around the nearest corner to stuff her face with donuts, chocolate and a bottle of non-diet coke,” she enthused.

That silenced us all for a while, as I remembered some of my own rather shameful face-stuffing shenanigans and so did they. “Don’t you think our hubbies should be glad that we only let loose with food, and not by shagging someone else or gambling away our mortgage payments?” My voice had obviously risen in volume because Jo came over too.
“You’re right, MillyMoo. I think I’m living on the edge if I have a cappuccino and a cheesecake between the kindy run and grocery shopping. And to think that I used to be stay out dancing all night, have a shower and go straight to work!”
“Yeah, but who wants to have a hangover when you’ve got three kids who wake up before 6am,” Bec reminded her.
“Agreed, nothing is as merciless as a child who yells “BUT YOU PROMISED YOU’D TEACH ME HOW TO PLAY THE RECORDER TODAY!” in your pounding ear.”
We fell silent again, pondering our un-fun lifestyles. Our sensible pyjamas, forgiving tracksuit waistbands, 6am wake ups and our tendency to actually read the junk mail catalogues if they are about discount clothing stores or supermarkets.

The normally calm, nurse/mother Jo was getting fired up. “And even when a stray piece of cheesecake is our only outlet, how come it trebles in size and weight when it comes to my hard-working, child-bearing hips? And how come----“ …. she swiftly turned around to make sure that none of her kids were behind her “----how come WE have to ‘tidy ourselves up down south’ but our blokes don’t have to do anything?”
That’s bloody true, I thought. How come men’s pelvic areas aren’t subject to the changing whims and fashions – who’d heard of a Brazilian wax five years ago?
“Huh,” snorted Deb. “All they have to do is show up.”
“Besides,” leaned in Bec, “Who said a willy was pretty? Who’d want to see that uncovered and enhanced with two landing strips down each side or shaped into a loveheart?”

Our laughter died down and we focused on more aspects of wifehood and motherhood that were frustrating and seemingly unfair. Key irritants included the classic: leaving just one square of loo paper on the roll to avoid changing, and others like the cruelty of hipster jeans for anyone above 30kg whilst blokes got to wear huge canvas hide-everything pantaloons for shorts. Things were starting to get a tad heated and I was glad that all of the pitchforks, spades and other gardening implements were safely locked away in the school’s storage shed. My second thought was one that tended to enter my brain on a much more frequent basis – why do most of my adult conversations very quickly descend into ‘adult’ areas?

Even with my parents (both aged 65) and pretty well all of my friends, we invariably end up throwing in the odd fart story, sexual anecdote (usually self-deprecating) or funny-but-honest admissions of 9pm bedtimes, only choosing restaurants if they have chicken nuggets on the menu or being relieved that we no longer feel compelled to suck in our stomachs when a person of the opposite sex walks by. This sort of subject matter is particularly difficult when kids such as Sapphire have ears like CIA phone bugs and always want to ask an embarrassing question. “Mum, when you said that you couldn’t go swimming because you felt like a Yeti, what did you mean?”

Perhaps that’s where we are now getting our vicarious thrills in life. Trying to have personal and daring conversations whilst our kids are in – or very close to – hearing range. Why not – it doesn’t cost anything, contains no calories and you end up laughing in recognition and solidarity.

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