Note: Actually, this is not the opening chapter of my first novel, which does not in fact exist. It’s just some drunken ramblings. And no, I’m not writing this ‘the morning after’. I have the presence of mind to recognise the truth right now, and I’m drunk. And hence, being drunk, I am inordinately proud of my ability to recognise my own limitations.
This evening I am “one of those mummies”. Stressed, shouty, wine in hand, vaguely tearful, half-heartedly “on strike” in front of unwashed plates and uneaten toast. I am the mummy the Daily Mail warned you about, the star of countless mum-lit novels, each featuring a stick-thin cartoon lady dashing across the front cover, pram in one hand, dog lead in the other, countless bags floating in her wake. I don’t have a dog; my babies can now walk; I don’t comfort shop unless I’m drunk and it’s on Ebay. But I am that woman. Only less skinny, less amusing and far less likely to have an affair with the rock star who spies me struggling, kookily, with the dog and the pram and the shopping I don’t have. I am stressed mummy, hear me whine. What a fucking cliché.
I shouldn’t even be writing this. I’ve unloaded the bottom half of the Bosch dishwasher (one of my more practical Ebay “winnings”) but have run out of steam when it comes to the top. Instead I’ve started downing wine and blogging about domestic trivialities, which obviously makes no sense whatsoever, but is suitably kooky in its nonsensicality. It would be bad form to have a hangover tomorrow, especially given that it’s my youngest’s third birthday. Bad form, but entirely in keeping with the desperate mummy persona. Or character. Or self, whichever of these it is.
I haven’t even wrapped the presents for tomorrow. There is leftover wrapping paper, somewhere, in the back of a cupboard, but I can’t reach it and my partner’s away and it’s probably somewhere high up, too high for me, because I’m all short and feminine and need a man to help me, probably the rock star I mentioned earlier. If this were a mum-lit novel, I’d find a comic solution. I’d wrap the presents in newspaper and there’d be some dodgy headline and just as Youngest was about to uncover his present, Eldest would suddenly regain a passion for reading and ask what “grooming” meant (which reminds me. I haven’t written in Eldest’s homework book for tomorrow. Hang on. […] Just wrote ‘read both really well’. I used to write shit like ‘read well, but struggled to sound out some words, particularly those including the following phonemes… etc.’. What an over-ambitious wanker).
This is all very much at odds with the self I’d like to project in this blog. Full-on feminist ranty mother, engaged with the world and merely amused at the domestic mayhem she leaves in her wake. But this type of writing – what I’m doing now – isn’t feminist at all, or so it seems. On the contrary, it’s the cautionary tale. The bit where I throw my hands up and confess that yes, I can’t cope. I’m not the mum I’d like to be and my house is a fucking tip. Both of which are trivial concerns in the grand scheme of things (although not, I would argue, if you happen to be my sons). And yes, this is, perhaps, a common feeling, albeit one that usually gains expression in the works of women who are financially secure, struggling with abstract ideas of ‘ambition’ and not the fag ends of necessity (more Polly Filla than Jeremy Kyle guest with ideas above her station). I don’t have as much money as the usual mum-lit heroine; I live on a shitty estate (but I do have a Bosch dishwasher – see above). Perhaps I’m just not meant to care? But the trouble is, I do.
Well, obviously this wouldn’t make a very good novel. I only wrote this in order to have a moan at someone, and 140 characters was definitely way too short. Do you know what would be ace, though? If some hot-shot publishing exec were to read this and think “yeah, actually, what we need is a mum-lit novel written from the perspective of someone who lives in a rubbish slug-infested house and genuinely fucks up as opposed to having the odd kooky mishap. That would be brilliant!” Then I’d write the novel, and make loads of money (cos hey, despite all appearances, all this is interesting), and the story of how I’d been discovered when writing in drunken desperation on a little-known personal mummy blog would be used in marketing the world over. Because that’s exactly the kind of shit that would happen in a novel, isn’t it? (Plus the fact that I’ve now outlined what’s meant to happen, in advance, would give it that added post-modern sheen.)
Hmm. Something tells me another glass of wine is a bad idea. But essential nonetheless.
Mmm. Wine is nice. Could anyone spare me a ciggie?