For those of you who have children, you’ll understand the following dilemma: when one of your friends organizes a night out with the girls, your initial excitement of getting out of the house is immediately eclipsed by the sheer panic of making it happen. Is my husband around to watch the kids? Will I have anything entertaining to talk about other than myadorablechildren? Is it physically possible to keep my eyelids open past 10 p.m.? And most importantly, how long will it take me to get ready? Nowadays, it’s a task that seems as monumental as climbing Mount Everest, or more appropriately, fastening something the size of a Sherpa into the folds of my jeans. This nauseating visual is immediately followed by the equally nauseating question: do I still haveit?Can a completely dishevelled and out-of-touch mother of two, with permanent deposits of baby vomit on her shoulder, get back out on the scene? Or more appropriately, hit the town and not cause a scene?
To prepare for a public viewing, I start by working on my face. Some mornings I look in the mirror and swear my facial features have commenced their migration to the South Pole; my eyes have mysteriously splayed down towards my ears, making it appear as though I’m on the cusp of morphing into a hammerhead shark. Simply put, a touch of lipstick doesn’t cut it anymore. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but recently I got reeled in by one of those coma-inducing infomercials; one with a magical voice that promised to reverse the effects of hard living and aging. (In all likelihood through the use of snake venom and the collective sperm of all endangered species; when you’re a woman on a mission, these details become trivial.) In a giddy trance, I dialled the toll-free number and waited in anticipation to place my order. I was having visions of my former dewy skin reflecting back at me in the mirror and was so lost in my daydream, that I almost missed what the lady was telling me. I asked her to repeat the cost. I had erroneously assumed the price I saw on the infomercial was the total cost, not four regular instalments of said amount. I politely declined and said, “For that price sweetheart, I’d be expecting you to mail me a new face.”
Call me paranoid, but hear me out. You know you look rough when you laboriously spend an hour getting ready, putting some serious effort into it, only to answer a knock at your front door to find your neighbour standing there, lips moving, voice saying, “Oh. So sorry towake you.Can I borrow an egg?”
Ouch. By this point, I was ready to call my friends and back out with some lame excuse involving a highly contagious, rash-inducing, unfortunately timed illness that mysteriously surfaced in my firstborn
just as I was about to walk out the door. One of the benefits of having children is that they provide a built-in excuse for dodging any sort of social commitment.
But no, my friends, I soldiered on. I polished my face then journeyed into my closet to find a suitable outfit to mark the occasion. I should mention here that in regards to overall fashion, I let myself go justa touchwhile enjoying my maternity leaves. Nothing major. It started with wearing the same pair of green sweatpants every day, followed shortly by the addition of a green T-shirt and a green sweater. May I add that the greens didn’t match; in fact, offensive clash would be a more appropriate description. I would have gone on washing and wearing the exact same comfortable outfit for the entire year had my sister not intervened one afternoon with the following declaration: “Did you skin the Grinch for that outfit? Respect yourself. Go change.” Now if this had been the first reference to the Grinch that week, I could have handled the insult like a mature
adult. As it happened, earlier that week my three-year-old son and I were playing when he (purposefully) whacked me over the head with a metal car. I gave him my dirtiest scowl and demanded an apology. He looked me straight in the face and said, “Mommy, you look like the pwince from that movie.” My heart instantly warmed. I replied, “Honey, don’t you mean the princess? Mommy’s a girl so I can’t be the prince.” (Being hit up with flattery, I instantly forgot my request for an apology.) To which he replied, “No, Mommy! Not that movie. Not the pwince, I said the GWINCH.” Aren’t three-year-oldsadorable? Particularly when their mouth is sealed shut with duct tape.
In the end, pulling yourself together and getting out of the house is always worth it. Bonding with girlfriends is like a soothing ointment for the soul. Although amidst the stories and giggles, you’ll inevitably find yourself thinking that the music is far too loud, the floor of the bar could use a really good scrubbing, the young girls, who clearly raided your toddler’s closet for their T-shirts, should think about covering their kidneys so they don’t catch a cold, and as you crouch precariously over the toilet seat you wouldn’t dare sit on even if ordered at gunpoint, you’ll be tempted to tidy the bathroom stall because your capacity to multi-task cannot be tamed. Yes, dear friends, we all morph into our mothers. And in my books, that’s a good thing.
At some point during the night, you’ll wistfully think of your children, wishing you’d been there to tuck them into bed, read them their favourite story and kiss them good-night. And in that very moment you’ll realize that yes, you still have it— you have it allplusmore.
JanitaVandeVeldegrewuponafarmnear Mariapolis,Man.Sheholdsabachelorof sciencedegreeinagriculturaleconomicsfrom theUniversityofManitoba,andhasworked forafinancialinstitutionsincegraduating.She livesinRegina,Sask.,withherhusbandRoddy andtheirchildrenJackandIsla.Herfirstnovel, PostcardsNeverWritten,wastherecipientof theSaskatchewanReader’sChoiceAwardand alsolistedbyCBCasoneofthetopfunnybooks in2009.Shedonatesaportionofproceedsfrom thesaleofherbooktoWorldVisiontohelpthose lessfortunate.Formoreinformation,ortoorder herbook,visitherwebsiteat www.janita.ca
One of the benefits of having children is
that they provide a built-in excuse for dodging any sort of social commitment.