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 fondly recalling when she was someone with something to say that didn’t involve children.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Sometimes I miss the old me. The ‘me’ that had no responsibilities, that could go out whenever she wanted, meet friends, drink with no fear of how a hangover could quadruple in pain when you have to get up at 4.30am, the freedom to see shows, eat out, etc.

But most of all, I miss good old fashioned ‘conversation’. When I think back to the conversations my girlfriend and I used to have versus the ones we have now, let’s just say I’m not entirely sure we haven’t both been lobotomised.

I’m not saying that we’d spend hours discussing politics or literature or indeed anything highbrow, but we used to chat about our lives, our friends, maybe I’d crowbar a few political rants in (“Yes Jen, the Tories are dicks, can we move on?”). But whatever we talked about, it felt like ‘adult conversation.’ The last debate my girlfriend initiated with me went a bit more like this:

“Which Postman Pat do you prefer? The original or Special Delivery Service?”

“Um… I quite like Special Delivery Service.”

“How can you say that? The original is way better!”

“I think the music is more catchy.”

“Jen, have you noticed that Pat can’t be trusted to get anything right? The guy has one ‘special delivery’ to do ALL DAY and he messes it up!”

“I relate to the guy; he’s a bit of a klutz.”

“And what’s with all the fancy motorbikes and helicopters, hmm? What’s wrong with using his van? WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS, JAMES BLOODY BOND? HE’S A POSTMAN FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!”

I’ve never seen the woman get that passionate about anything, not even the birth of her children.

“To our children we are nothing if not interesting. Only yesterday the ‘bigger one’ stared at me intently as I explained the difference between his potty and an actual pot that he’d found in the cupboard.”

I don’t know when this happened exactly, but at some point we became the dullest people on the planet. When you start debating the naturalistic qualities of a kids’ television program aimed at the under-sevens, it’s time to scream out your window for help.

I’m not really surprised at the level of our conversation given every interaction I have with any adult type person leaves me struggling to find something/anything of interest to say.

“So what have you been up to?”

“Oh you know… We’ve been busy with the kids…”

“Bet that must be tiring.”

“Yeah it is… So Brexit, eh? That was a bummer… Jesus, can we get some alcohol so you don’t notice just how boring I am?”

It’s to be expected I guess. After all, aside from work, all we do is look after our children. That is the role of a parent.

Yes, I get to go away and lead the glamorous lifestyle of a jobbing comic – I recently had the pleasure of staying in a Best Western in both Liverpool and Nottingham, which I can highly recommend if you’re looking to stay in a windowless cupboard with two centimetres of plyboard separating where you sleep from the toilet. I won’t lie to you, after two weekends of this decadence you start to miss being gently introduced to 4am by a child screaming directly into your face.

The only consolation to be had from this is that our children haven’t noticed – to them we are nothing if not interesting. Only yesterday the ‘bigger one’ stared at me intently as I explained the difference between his potty and an actual pot that he’d found in the cupboard.

“One is to do poo poos and the other one is to cook dinner in.” It feels good as a parent when you know that you’re making a connection with your child. Although I should add that he was wearing his potty on his head at the time, so it was hard to tell how seriously he was taking our chat. My point still stands.

“When you start debating the naturalistic qualities of a kids’ television program aimed at the under-sevens, it’s time to scream out your window for help.”

Fortunately we’ve been told that this ‘dull’ stage is temporary and it’s not long before you get your personality back. Although I’m not sure everyone will be happy to hear this, as my mother bluntly told me the other week, “Yennifer, I think you should know that you’re a lot less annoying since you had children.”

You could glean from this that I have matured as a human being since becoming a parent, but I think she and I both know it’s because I don’t have the energy to contradict every little thing she says for no reason.

Maybe I should celebrate the fact that I am a ‘better person’ right now; it’s sad that my friends won’t get to experience it as I never really see anyone. But rest assured, despite being the equivalent of a wormhole in terms of interesting conversation, I am still great company because I simply don’t have the energy to be a massive bellend.

Only time will tell if having kids will eventually make me a more rounded and fascinating individual. So far, interaction with other parents is screaming, “NO WAY!”

In the meantime my girlfriend and I will continue our heated debates about whether Mr Bloom ever played bass in an indie band in the 90s or how much we’d have to raise in a Kickstarter campaign to never see Mr Tumble again or whether Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy are having an illicit affair that only Derek Jacobi can confirm or deny.

Either way, one thing is for certain: Postman Pat should sack off his ‘special delivery service’.

Check out all of Jen’s other-mother tales here.
Catch Jen’s show
The Other One at Camden Comedy Club on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 August. Info 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.