Becoming a mother is a little like being taken hostage, and instantly developing Stockholm Syndrome: you are so in love with your tiny captor that you do everything – anything – to please them and to keep the peace. This entails the giving up of so many freedoms; the freedom to leave the house easily, the freedom to enjoy silence, the freedom to defecate alone.
But every now and then a little, tiny window of opportunity presents itself, and we grab it with both hands and revel in those little glimpses of freedom once more.
1. Using a hand-dryer in the toilet
Children are excessively terrified of hand-dryers. My children will seek a verbal contract even as we enter public conveniences that “we won’t use the hand-dryer will we Mummy”. It’s not a question, it’s an order, so usually I find myself drying my hands on my jeans or my hair. On the odd occasion when my butt has accidentally activated the hand-dryer I am met with disappointed glares. Bad mummy. But when I’m on my own, I luxuriate in the feeling of the heat on my hands, the lack of damp trousers and hair with volume. The noisy blast is my little rebellion and it feels GOOD.
2. Wearing earrings
I stopped wearing earrings when I first had a baby, because they’re so scratchy and these tiny people spend a lot of time curled up at your neck, right where you could jab a newborn eyeball with one if you were ever-so-slightly sleep deprived. Then earrings became something to be tugged at relentlessly. And then I just forgot that I could adorn my head with these pretty, sparkling things. But when I have a night out, I find the spikiest earrings I own, and walk proudly with these weapons in my ears.
3. Crossing the road when the man is RED
From very early on, crossing the road becomes a super-important way to model good behaviour. We ONLY cross the road with the green man. At first, I could definitely have got away with crossing on red, but, diligent mother that I am, I took the opportunity to teach them their colours and a little road safety at the same time. Before you know it, if you even edge onto the kerb, the small drill sergeant by your side barks you back to safety. But when I’m alone, I can do what the hell I like. Maybe I’ll cross when the man is red. Or maybe I won’t even use the crossing at all. WILD.
4. Listening to your own music in the car
I’ve embraced audio books as a screen-free way to keep the kids amused on long car journeys but this comes at a price. Instead of tuning into the radio, or enjoying my own playlist while my children gaze contentedly at iPads , I listen to The Julia Donaldson Collection A LOT. We have recently upgraded to the Roald Dahl CD set which thankfully, doesn’t include any singing at all. Any attempts to switch to the radio – even when the captors are apparently asleep – will result in another CD being thrust in my ear from the back seat. But every now and then, I concoct an excuse to drive to the local supermarket (3 mins max) just to get a few bits and it’s easier to leave the kids and I GLORY in the sweet sound of the radio. Or alternatively I sing-along to the Gruffalo song like a brain-dead automaton before head-butting the steering wheel as I realise a golden opportunity has been missed.
5. Carrying a really small handbag
6. Wearing pungent perfume
7. Baking alone
8. Sitting on the top deck of the bus
9. Not being touched for two minutes
What the FUDGE? Shut the front door! What do you mean I can’t swear any more because I am mother? Even when I stub my toe, or some TOTAL banker cuts me up at the traffic lights, I shalt not swear in front of the children. Okay. The odd one slips out and I have to explain that they heard a grown-up word which they are not to repeat and mummy is very sorry she said it. But, oh the sweet freedom of being in adult company and being able to utter profanities whenever I please. My work colleagues definitely hear me swear more than they used to because I have to get it all out of my system while I’m there, so I find myself liberally peppering sentences with expletives so I can get it all out of my system before I have to go home and be Mary fucking Poppins again.