Jen Brister is a mum. No, not that one. The other one. This month, she politely asks you not to sniff her denim. Or fingers.
Before you have kids, there is no person in your life more excited for you to have kids, than your mate(s) with kids. Their enthusiasm on hearing about the pregnancy is over and above every other person you know, including your mum. “YOU’RE HAVING TWINS? THAT’S AMAZING! I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU!”
“Why are you shouting?”
“I DON’T KNOW!”
Of course with hindsight I can see why they temporarily lost their minds. Finally they have a friend who is about to join the ‘I’ve got no life’ club and they couldn’t be happier that they’re no longer alone in a sea of sleep deprivation, puke and tantrums.
I feel like I need to prefix everything I’m about to say with this: I love my boys, I love them more than I’ve loved anyone or anything in my life and have no regrets that they are here.
I think some of my mates could have been a bit more upfront about the whole experience. “Honestly Jen, children change your life, you feel so fulfilled, the first time I felt unconditional love was when I held my daughter…” Blah blah blah.
“I want you to know that prior to having children neither my girlfriend nor I would have considered leaving the house with urine on our jeans. Fast forward 20 months and neither of us have the energy to give a toss.”
Nobody ever sits you down and says, “Listen mate, a word to the wise: some days are like a horror show – you don’t sleep, you can’t go out when you want to, you have to go to the loo with the door open, you’ll never finish a cup of tea or coffee again, you have to eat your ice cream behind a bin in the garden, your sex life all but disappears and your social life as you know it, is over. Anyway, congratulations!”
Of course you don’t want to be the downer on someone’s good news and no one can really prepare you for what’s in store. To be honest I don’t know how I’m so surprised at the state of my life today, having spent the last 20 odd years judging every mum I’ve ever seen on a school run. “Bloody hell love, make an effort! Run a brush through your hair! Christ! Are those Crocs?” As women, when we talk about feminism, let’s be honest, there is no one more judgemental of a woman than another woman.
I’m not proud of my behaviour, particularly as now I see that judgement in the eyes of other women as I struggle down my street wearing clothes that scream, “I’VE GIVEN UP!”
The compromises you make when you have children are quite frankly insane. You put up with stuff that prior to having kids you would never have considered. Just the other day my girlfriend asked me to sniff her jeans, “Why?” “They’ve got piss on them – I just want to know how bad it smells.”
I want you to know that prior to having children neither my girlfriend nor I would have considered leaving the house with urine on our jeans. Fast forward 20 months and neither of us have the energy to give a toss. Your standards slip and finally drop to a place that you couldn’t have fathomed just two years earlier.
Here’s something that I seem to be fine about these days: poo under my nails. Now I know some of you are going to read this and visibly wince, as you should. There is nothing OK about having poo under your nails and had I found a speck of faeces on my hands two years ago I would have been scrubbing my hands in the sink with a wire brush and some bleach. Now, when I find poo under my nails I find myself saying, “What is that? Is that… poo?” Then I scrape it out with my thumbnail and carry on with my day.
“As I reach our bedroom I finally lose it: ‘WHY DOES OUR BEDROOM SMELL OF POO? HOW IS IT THAT THE ONE PLACE WHERE WE NEVER HAVE A SINGLE NAPPY, STINKS OF SHIT!’”
Just two months ago I found myself having a tantrum, an actual tantrum in my house at the age of 41. Who have I become? As you know we have twin boys, so we have double the amount of everything, including nappies. Which means that on a daily basis we have a lot of poo coming out of our house. And I mean A LOT.
On this particular day I found myself in my living room shouting at my girlfriend, “Why does the living room smell of poo? Have the walls of this house finally absorbed the smell?”
My girlfriend, who as always was busy with more important things and was frankly not taking me seriously just shrugged her shoulders. I wandered into the kitchen, “Hang on, why does the kitchen stink of poo? Have our hygiene levels dropped so dramatically that we’re OK with our kitchen smelling of crap?”
I stormed up the stairs. “The stairwell stinks! What the hell is wrong with this house?” By this point I am apoplectic and as I reach our bedroom I finally lose it: “WHY DOES OUR BEDROOM SMELL OF POO? HOW IS IT THAT THE ONE PLACE WHERE WE NEVER HAVE A SINGLE NAPPY, STINKS OF SHIT! I CANNOT LIVE LIKE THIS A SECOND LONGER!”
It was only moments later when I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror that I realised: I had poo on my chin.
“How long have I had poo on my face?”
“When were you going to tell me?”
“I wasn’t; I just assumed you knew it was there.”
I didn’t realise that things had got so bad that my girlfriend thought I was fine about having poo on my face.
I’m not going to lie to you; it’s pretty hard to claw back any dignity from that point.
Fortunately my girlfriend’s standards have dropped as far as mine, as I pointed out to her when I let her walk through the streets of Brighton with sick on her back.
What can I say? You’ve got to get your kicks where you can.
Check out all of Jen’s other-mother tales here.
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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.