Blog 12 - for diary of an alt-pop mother
It was at a home-educating group in an adventure playground that a mother said to me
“My goodness me, look at you, what are you doing wearing lipstick?!”
I just stood there. Unsure how to respond. Was I being put-in-my-place? Like I was trying to get above myself? Putting too much effort in?
And I thought You have no idea.
You don’t know me. Who I am. How I dress. What I do. What I like. Where I’ve come from. Me. Ooooh Lippy hey? What makes you so special. Why bother with all that stuff here at a playground? What are you, a movie star? At a Playground?!!! HA HA HA HA - WHYYYYYYYYY? A HA HAHAHAHHAA (Evil laugh). Because THIS IS my life woman! THIS is where I go and BE every freaken’ other day - if I can’t still be ME I will DIE!!!!
But instead I say nothing. Smile meekly and go make myself a little cup of tea.
Yesterday I got talking with a different mum at this same group. It is funny how sometimes when I hear of the ‘other bit’ of mother’s - what they do, that it surprises me. Like they can’t possibly be pushing a swing ASWELL as be a once (or still) professional anything. It intrigues me - wondering what lurks beneath. It seems by owning a child we have a basic across the board, humble camaraderie. One thing in common, at least, but if we pause to scratch beneath - maybe two or three? It is like this with my book club girls too (here we go again, la de daaaa) and especially in London - you never know what you’re gonna get, one Book Club Mother works for the BBC, by golly, another one could be famous for all I know, I’m not good on British celebrities.
This lady at the group, on this day though said - she’s writing a novel. To my surprise! See! I eventually said that I am too and we talked about writing but I felt slightly self conscious around the others, and talked quietly. It’s odd but I feel this when I say I’m a singer too, at times, it’s weird, I notice myself saying it all throw-away like. Most people are positive (no ‘dole-bludger eye rolls’ or anything) but therefore it actually feels a bit showy offfy and I want to change the subject straight away. Silly really. Anyway - we talked about home educating and finding our way of coping with raising children and I asked her what she needs to do to keep a sense of peace. She talked about things I feel but don’t say in public gatherings without some hesitancy. She said
“I just feel sometimes - with not having much time to write - that I am not being true to myself. If I don’t write it is like an important part of me is being ignored, and a sudden feeling rushes over me”
I had not heard anyone else say this - apart from me (in my head and to Ben). But all people mid-way through an artistic project or ‘piece’, or who have decided to take their Art seriously - surely feel this thing - if they are not actually doing it. Sometimes there is a sense of great relief when given time off from carrying it (even unofficially - for me it was having a baby) but it soon sneaks back in …to haunt you. A ghost walking through you, making you shiver out of the blue, totally unnerving.
The house below me is silent now and I am writing this alone. It’s Ben’s day today with the kids so I am granted a day to do other things. Poor luv it’s raining. The gaggle of children (one extra in tow) have left the building - leaving behind an ever present echo of my daughter’s omnipresent medley of her favourite piano songs: Oh can you wash my daddies shirt, oh can you wash it clean, clean, clean, the beginning of Fur Elise, that ballad by Adele, the Star wars theme, two from the piano book, two of her own and the old two-part favourite we all used to fill our own childhood houses with, but we never knew what it was called. She plays this duet alone though ‘cos her brother only involves himself with her piano through an angry roar (sometimes when she has only just sat on the piano stool, her hands poised, threatening), thus causing me to cut in - encouraging but boundary giving. So far - we have all been saved from chopsticks. But it’s only a matter of time.
My favourite thing is to get her to make up stuff on the spot, experiment, and it is such a relief to hear something new - even her brother’s tight shoulders move downwards into a peaceful place and happiness is restored. Oh the great difficulties of an artiste. The needs, not understood or tolerated even by her own family.
The lippy thing I guess just sort of rudely, slapped me back into my surroundings. And you see, that’s not helpful really, because it is particularly in playgrounds - that I get ‘the shudder’.
I remember, eight years ago, moving our whole life over to the UK with a toddler and a baby, a massive move for a new little family - exciting and traumatising - only to find myself sitting in a bleak playground in the cold, in East London, thinking
I put myself through all of that, for this?! To be still doing what I was doing back there? Sitting doing nothing while my children play? Life just goes on?!! What is different? What was the point?
By moving - I had expected change. I had expected the ghost to stop walking through me, because I was doing something. I was putting myself out there. We both were. But it seems if you are a parent you will always be separated into a few pieces, and the different pieces take turns in priority. Within a day, within a life style or within the spans of their living. The anti-glam-housework-playground-sitting moments are some how grounding I suppose. I have changed by coming here, by raising kids, by loving Ben, by giving things a shot and damn it - against all odds - I still get dressed nicely every day, eat three meals, answer to the title of singer and stubbornly apply my crazy-lady, self-preserving, dog-gone, movie star lippy.
But please, keep this boy away from me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAp-TzqWdks
When we first came over, Housesitting in Walthamstow. My baaaabies.
Me in the mid 80’s. No, not really. The afore-mentioned bleak playground, Walthamstow, East London.
I like it when one I get to do this ‘piece’ of me too below (the going out with my lovely friends piece) I love this shot!
Some pictures of me in The Grounding Process, the grinding? Grind-stone?
The furniture is vaguely reminiscent of our lounge, but despite the above efforts - I’m afraid the tidiness is not.
This was us on a London train - a few years ago - our first band selfie. Aw.
Damn that paparazzi on the way to my home ed groups! Leave me alone!