Written by Jen Brister

Lifestyle

Tales from the other mother

Jen Brister is a mum. No, not that one. The other one. This month, she’s realised having kids has made her an efficiency ninja. A very tired efficiency ninja.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Time sure does fly when you have twins! Said someone somewhere with twins, I’m guessing.

And it really has; who can believe they’re going to be two this month!? I mean, how has that happened? Yes, I understand how time works, but it feels like only yesterday that I had no little boys and here I am today with two little boys who are going to be two! That’s two and two. Does that make four? What am I saying? I think I need to stop drinking…

It’s amazing how much you manage to get done when you have kids. I am infinitely more productive now that I have no time, which makes me wonder what the hell I was doing with all that free time before they arrived. I went for days and days with nothing to do until my gig in the evening. I know I was writing, but I’m writing now, so what was I doing between the writing? How many trips to the fridge and cups of tea did I make to squander all that time?

For those of you who don’t have children, if you think you’re using your time effectively, I can tell you now that you’re not. Have a baby, seriously, just one (not twins – that’s madness) and you will get shit done. If you have a two-hour window to do your accounts, send a few invoices, make dinner, do the washing-up and put the bins out, you will tick everything off your list.

Pre-kids, I could go for days in my flat lounging about in my pyjamas, ignoring the smell of the overflowing bin and staring out of the window as my girlfriend complained that she’d found yet another box of my receipts under the sink. These days I am an efficiency ninja. Yes, there are still boxes of receipts I haven’t looked at in months, but they’re now sitting on a shelf in the study. I know, it’s like I’m a grown up.

“I can honestly say that I am a better person since we had children. I don’t mean a better human – I’m still an incredibly self-involved dick – I just mean I have become a better version of me: Jen Brister Version 2.03.”

Sometimes I miss my old life, and by ‘sometimes’ I do mean ‘every morning when I sit down for breakfast’. Back in the old days (two years ago), I would sit quietly with a coffee and read the news on my phone. I might take an hour pottering about, eating cold toast and reflecting on why a particular promoter was ignoring my emails/phone calls/smoke signals.

These days as I sit down for breakfast, I am rarely alone. Just this morning I found myself teetering on the edge of my stool as my two boys clung to each of my legs shouting, “Mama! MORE!” “Mama TOAST!” “Mama BISCUIT!” I pretend I can’t hear them until the volume reaches a level that forces me to abandon not only my breakfast but also any other activity or job I deludedly thought could be tackled in their company. The fact is, when you have twins they won’t let you do ANYTHING.

God knows I love them. You have to or you’d be on Craigslist trying to swap them for a pair of speakers (at least you can control the volume on those).

Of course there are days when I’m with my boys where I’m lucky if I leave the house without looking like I’m homeless. Clearly I haven’t nailed this parenting lark and maybe it’s because I’m the ‘other mum’ that I still look to my wife (yes wife, because girlfriend makes us sound like we’re tragic middle-aged women suffering from arrested development) to lead the way in most things.

“Should I be doing this?”

“Should he have that in his mouth?”

“Am I allowed to… (insert anything you like here)?”

She is, of course, the boss in all things and as such is always quick to tell me when I’m not quite doing it right.

“That T-shirt doesn’t match his shorts, take it off.”

“The washing isn’t going to hang itself.”

“You forgot to buy nappies again!”

It’s encouraging words like this that keep me on track and I’m grateful for that.

Fortunately for my wife I am incredibly laid-back and easy-going*, so I’m happy to let these things slide.
*scared of her

“For those of you who don’t have children, if you think you’re using your time effectively, I can tell you now that you’re not. Have a baby, seriously, and you will get shit done. ”

I also know that she has learned a lot from me, too. For example, she now knows that you can make a convincing fart noise using the palm of your hand and your armpit, dinners are way more fun when eaten off the floor/wall/furniture, and throwing all the cushions off the sofa and playing ‘bundles’ in the living room is always a winner and never* ends in tears.
*mostly

Despite many of my protestations to the contrary, I can honestly say that I am a better person since we had children. I don’t mean a better human – I’m still an incredibly self-involved dick – I just mean I have become a better version of me: Jen Brister Version 2.03. By the time I get to Version 2.10 I’ll be writing lists, sticking to deadlines and filing my tax return early. I really can’t wait for that day.

Until then, I’ll just remind you that I’ve been up since 6am and by 10am I’d already emptied the recycling, fed and dressed the boys, finished the washing-up, hung out the washing and taken the boys to the park. Yup, I am winning at life!

I think I may have peaked too soon.

Can I go to bed yet?

My wife says, “No.”

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.