Written by Jen Brister

Lifestyle

Tales from the other mother

Jen Brister is a mum. No, not that one. The other one. In her last column, she’s sliding down several holes.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Time: I never have enough of it these days. It’s only been two and a half years but I have trouble remembering what the hell I was doing with myself pre-kids. I had so much free time and yet I would convince myself that I was always busy.

Pre-kids, doing the washing up and putting out the recycling felt like achievements; to be honest they still feel like achievements but that’s usually because I have twins attached to my legs as I’m doing it.

I remember having the time to watch a box set, or go for a long walk in the park, or even meet a friend for coffee! I look back at that time like it was a golden era – and it was, because these days I have to make time to go to the toilet.

“It’s Mama’s special time in the toilet… Sorry why are you in the toilet with me? No put the toilet paper down… Don’t put that in your mouth… I don’t need you to hold my hand, that’s just for your number twos not mine… Seriously get that out of your mouth!”

Etc.

I know I’m lucky. As a standup comedian I get to go away, stay in a hotel and have some ‘me’ time. And there’s no question that I don’t jump at these opportunities. I do.

Sometimes when I’m away I get a bit giddy and have on more than one occasion had a bit too much to drink. The novelty of being in the company of adults for an entire evening where booze flows freely can be more than I can handle and I find myself waking up in my hotel room at 5am with a kebab on my chest and an episode of CSI something or other on my TV screen, questioning my life choices.

“No amount of ‘fun’ is worth having two two-year-olds jumping on your limp, lifeless body on the living room floor at 6am the following morning.”

There’s nothing like sabotaging your one lie-in of the month by getting shitted and unable to get back to sleep because of a raging hangover.

By the way, don’t make the mistake of expecting any sympathy from your partner should you let that information slip out in a phone conversation later that day.

“Did you have a good lie-in?”

“Not really. I got wasted last night; I didn’t get back ’til 3am and woke at 6am.”

“WELL, IF YOU’RE EXPECTING ANY SYMPATHY FROM ME YOU CAN FORGET IT! YOU’RE STILL GETTING UP WITH THE KIDS MONDAY MORNING BECAUSE I’M KNACKERED. WHY WOULD YOU GET DRUNK WHEN YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SLEEP! I WOULD HAVE GONE TO BED AT 10PM AND SLEPT THROUGH ’TIL 10AM! THE ONE TIME YOU GET TO SLEEP AND YOU BLOW IT!”

Etc.

She’s right of course, but no one needs to hear that while lying in the foetal position on the bathroom floor trying not to think about how many men have urinated on the very spot upon which you’re resting your feverish, sweating face.

Still, if you are going to have a hangover and you do have kids, I would highly recommend you quarantine those bad boys to when you’re nowhere near your offspring. There is nothing more horrific than a hangover in the presence of young children; the two should be avoided at all costs.

Even if at the time you think you’re enjoying yourself, however much ‘fun’ you thought you were having at 1am downing that third shot of Sambuca while regaling a stranger with some dull story that involved a trip to Thailand in your 20s. No amount of ‘fun’ is worth having two two-year-olds jumping on your limp, lifeless body on the living room floor at 6am the following morning, as you try to focus on a pattern in a rug that will somehow help you with not throwing up or passing out, or throwing up and then passing out.

“Pre-kids, doing the washing up and putting out the recycling felt like achievements; to be honest they still feel like achievements but that’s usually because I have twins attached to my legs as I’m doing it.”

To be honest, I don’t need a hangover to find myself locked in some kind of living hell with my children. No, I just need to make my way to my local soft-play centre and Dante’s Inferno awaits me.

Soft-play centres are where you go when you’ve exhausted every other option of where to take your kids. No one is there because they want to be there. No one. Every single parent has a look of defeated resignation on their faces as they follow their three-year-old through a plastic tunnel, clamber up rubber stairs, over rope bridges and down slides that no adult should attempt without the appropriate padded onesie.

These places are always called ‘The Fun Factory’ or ‘Monkey Fun’ or ‘Fun Play’. Which is ironic really because I think I’d have more fun dragging my face up and down a broken mirror than at any soft-play centre I’ve ever been to.

Just the other week I found myself clambering through some padded corridor chasing after one of my boys as he hurtled through and over rubber shapes to the opening of a twisting plastic tunnel that would eventually spit him out the bottom.

It was at the entrance of this tubular chute that I made eye contact with another mum.

“You’re not going down there, are you?”

“Um yeah, he wants to go so I have to go with him.”

She looked at me with a face that had seen too much. “Don’t go. I’ve been down that one and you don’t want to go down there.”

Oblivious to my anxiety, my son was already ready to push himself down this cylindrical torture pipe, so readying myself, I grabbed him between my legs and off we went.

I don’t know how long I felt my middle-aged self slam from one plastic side to the next like a solitary sports sock at the end of a washing machine spin cycle, but I was eventually spat out the bottom like a sack of spuds, to the sound of my son shouting, “AGAIN AGAIN MAMA!”

I’d like to say that was the one and only time I made that mistake, but I went down another four times after that. I’m pretty sure part of my spleen is still up there.

Of course the only way to really get through a day like that is to reward yourself with a drink or three. Go on, you deserve it! What’s the worst that can happen? OK, don’t think about it. Just keep drinking…

Read all of Jen’s other mother tales here.

@JenBrister

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Written by Jen Brister

Jen Brister is a stand-up comic, writer and comedy actor. A regular performer on the UK and international circuit, she has also written for BBC Scotland and presented for BBC 6Music.