Saturday, 16 October 2010

Fame and fortune (albeit not mine)

Here's a thought.

Suppose you really liked one of the virtual bloggers who regularly leaves comments on your posts, sends you funny emails, eventually picks up the phone and calls, or - even better - Skypes you so you can see them in person. You feel like you truly know this individual and it is as if you had been friends forever. You share a sense of humour, a talent for writing, and a perception of reality that is laden with comedy.

Now, if this were me, I would have been running around shouting "Stalker!" soon after the Skype call.

Not so these two ladies. Despite living some distance apart (one in the US, one in Scotland), they have pulled off that amazing feat of actually writing a book together. And getting it published. In Australia, of all places. Without ever meeting in person. How mad is that?

And the end result is a highly entertaining, extremely tongue-in-cheek, look at early motherhood. A book that says exactly what you need to know in order to retain some sense of normality - I use the term loosely - after the term 'a good night's sleep' recedes forever from your memory.

Being an extremely serious blogger, I thought it only appropriate to ask some meaningful questions of the duo, ie ones that did not involve training, races or triathlons of any shape or size, in the hope that some of their fame might rub off on me. 

(Note to Gillian and Emma - cheque to the usual account, okay? And spell the amount right this time FFS, without writing 'point' or 'comma', geddit? Geez...)

LCM - ‘Sleb mummies are a pain in the arse – discuss (in 140 characters or less)*

Gillian: Well that’s the thing- if you’re a celeb Mum then you probably have nanny/au pair/personal assistant help which means you are not living in the real world. Most of us look like a big old bag of crap in those first months after having kids. We wouldn’t feel so much like a big old bag of crap if we weren’t subjected to airbrushed/personal trainerised, make upartisted and liposuctioned celeb Mums on the covers of magazines telling us how sexy they felt ten minutes after giving birth. Then again, we don’t want to mention names because we are total hypocrites and if any of those celeb mums we had in mind read our book and gave us a quote that we could stick on the back cover endorsing Cocktails at Naptime, we’d act like the fame hungry whores we really are and bite their manicured hands off.

Emma: I do rather enjoy reading about ‘sleb mums I have to say. Like I love reading their diet diary and when I read lunch: ‘lettuce, lemon juice, sometimes a bit of cottage cheese and half a pear,’ I do feel well, very sorry for them because their lives are so miserable. I mean what joy do they have in life? Excessive exercise, strict diet, having to be in movies which I have to say sounds pretty boring, having their nails and hair done every day and having to talk about whatever crappy film they are starring in. They also have to accept that unless they’re Sandra Bullock (and the less said about her homely looking husband’s fling with that tattoo model the better) you have to date only celebs with plastic smiles, permatans, nose jobs and narcissistic personality syndrome. Even if the ‘sleb mum falls off the wagon and raids the local confectionary store there’s no joy there as there will be a pap lurking outside ready to snap her stuffing Wagon Wheels down her gullet.

*(Further note here - you can see why the cheques bounce. Neither of these women can count.)

LCM - Organic home-made pureed food or off-the-shelf?

Gillian: I’m going to take the organic part of that first option and then the shelf part of the second. Why spend hours cooking and mushing carrots for your kid to spit out and screw their face up at when Mr Hipp and Mrs Cow and Gate have made it their lives’ work. In saying that with my first child I did the obligatory two months of all that mushing and fussing before I went back to work and realise it was either shop buy or die (from exhaustion).

Emma: I think I made the home made baby food once and it was a right pain so I’m afraid I’m not the posterchild for DIY pumpkin puree. Actually my kids didn’t like the off-the-shelf mush either and segued straight from breast to that finger food they throw around in restaurants that ends up in the parents’ hair.

LCM - Suggestions for enticing your other half to get up during the night to sort out kids

-          A tazer
-          A promise of something he was previously denied
-          Pretending you are dead

Emma: I don’t understand the question. The kids know that unless the house is burning down not to wake us. If they want something like having a bad dream and wanting to talk about it I just say ‘Oh go to sleep next to me we’ll talk about it in the morning.’ Luckily they forget their ‘problem’ the moment their head hits the pillow.

LCM - Is your supermarket shop quicker when you have the kids in tow or do you just abandon the trolley mid-excursion, say “Sod this for a game of soldiers”, and resort to doing it online (the shop, not the soldiers)?

Emma: Actually I don’t like to boast about this too much or I might find myself lynched by the local housewives wielding hot hair tongs but I’m actually living the feminist dream in this regard. Not only do I rarely go grocery shopping with the kids but my husband actually does 90% of it due to the fact that he told me ‘you can’t keep to a budget,’ and ‘you’ll buy anything in a pretty package.’ So that particularly nightmare is no longer my domain much to my relief. Also for those of you outside the US have you any idea what temptations lurk in US supermarkets, for example there are Starbucks actually inside the supermarket and I challenge anyone not to buy a donut and a Venti double chocolate swirl pumpkin latte on their way into the supermarket. Also there is a lot of litigation in supermarkets here, like in Whole Foods if you so much as swipe one olive from the olive bar you can find yourself banned from using the supermarket and they also take a Polaroid of you which is put in a special room that the security guards use to make sure no olive thieves or naughty housewives who once ate a cherry tomato from the salad bar ever darken the store again. Life’s too short to be scared about eating a cherry tomato so I leave the groceries to my husband.

Gillian: No I used to like to subject the public to me and my entourage. I find that if I don’t then the older women of this world are deprived of their afternoon’s entertainment in tutting and shaking their heads in disgust at the way modern mothers bring up their kids. I only like to think of my own Gran and how her hobby of openly and loudly discussing the failures of young mums in supermarkets kept that woman going for so many years. I particularly felt I was bringing a ray of sunshine to an obviously hard of hearing older lady in Asda cafe one day when she was able to give vent to her opinions about my 9 month old daughter’s physical proportions. As I handed my little pudding a big soggy chip to chew on and mash into a  pulp while I ate my lunch I was delighted when the elderly sage shouted loudly to her friend “Look, she feeds the bairn chips! Nae wonder she’s FAT!” I feel I give something back to the community when I give these ladies a different option other than minding their own bloody business. I’m a giver you see.

LCM - Tips for travelling with small children, especially on airplanes? (Mine is “Let them wander, where the hell are they going to go anyway? And payback time for other misery-gut childless fliers”)

Gillian: In all seriousness the one of my kids, the youngest, that I thought would be an absolute nightmare on a long haul flight lay down on the floor of the plane and slept for eleven hours. This gave me the opportunity to snort with derision at other families who weren’t having as much luck. However my eldest did puke all over me and his Gran when we took him to Spain when he was just a year old. But in fact this episode gave me a tactic that I would recommend for all parent globetrotters. Feed your kid something that you find normally disagrees with him. That way when he throws up, people surrounding you get up and find other seats giving you all the leg room you need for a comfortable flight. It’s a lot cheaper than paying for first class. And it is also good if you are worried about deep vein thrombosis.

Emma: We have been on dozens of long haul flights and I have been a selfish sod on as many as possible. I usually try to sit somewhere as far away from the kids as possible by swapping with someone. Why? Because they are both vomiters. Then I take a Tylenol PM (quite a hard core sleeping pill available over the counter) cover my head with a blanket and try to drown out anyone prodding me and asking “Excuse me, are you the mother? Your kid just barfed on me.” If forced to answer I just pretend I am Turkish and don’t understand.

Gillian: yes! I love Tylenol PM. I practically rattle from the stocks of them secreted about my person when I come back from the US.

LCM - How much is too much? (your call as to interpretation of question)

Gillian: Too much is when the kids outnumber the parents. You’ve got to have each one marked like in a game of netball. I speak with experience; I was one of three children. There was always one of us in “loose cannon” position. If you see that situation from the other side, you don’t make that mistake yourself later on in life.

Emma: Yeah I honestly have no idea how anyone has more kids than two. I know that I would have a huge problem remembering where they all were at any given time. I barely remember who has Brownies or ballet on what day and so the idea that you’d remember that sort of tedious information for more than two kids makes me think that mums who have many kids simply have an extra brain built in because it is literally something as difficult for me to get my head around as particle physics.

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