The other day, I was waiting at the supermarket check-out and felt this little frisson when I looked in my shopping basket. I had realised that its contents - with 1 litre of no-fat milk, a block of chocolate, cat food and an impulse copy of “NW” magazine – represented a “Single Girl Shop”. I felt all footloose and fancy-free as I walked out to the carpark – there was almost a little skip in my step – but by the time I had climbed up into my 1986 Tarago, noticed the snot streaks on my black tracksuit pants and then the strains of Angela Lansbury singing “Beauty and The Beast” on the car-stereo, the spell was broken and I drove back home with a heavy heart.
It took me back to about a year ago, when my friend JS (she who star-jumped off the wagon with such glee – see “Kicking the Habit“) persuaded me to come into the CBD to meet her and a few girlfriends for a drink or two. It started off badly: I caught the bus in, I couldn’t find the bar because it was too cool to be clearly signposted, and the bouncer looked young enough to be a child of my loins. And then, when I finally located JS and her friends, I saw that they were all fabulously frocked up and drinking exotic cocktails, while little old me (old being the operative word) stood awkwardly with my glass of cheap fizz, in three-quarter length trousers and a large floral hand-bag over one shoulder like some kind of poster girl for Miller’s Fashion Club. As I caught the bus home (which, upon reflection, was even more tragic than catching the bus there), I concluded that I probably would have felt more comfortable wearing a garbage bag held together with gaffer tape and was grateful that nobody had had me escorted from the premises for looking like Somebody’s Aunt.
In my own habitat, I still feel just a little bit cool. I wear vintage cardigans! I’ve never owned a pair of white trainers! I wear “New Media” glasses! My hair is interesting and well-cut by a funky lady! (No-one needs to know that she comes to my house to do it). I had the first pair of Crocs out of everyone I knew and even before Meg Mathews (ex-wife of rumoured ex-member of ex-It band “Oasis”, Noel Gallagher) was featured wearing them in UK “Heat” magazine!! (Okay, so strike that last one). Listen, goddammit: I’m a cool mum!!
I guess the telling sign in that proclamation is that I can’t honestly just say “I’m cool” – I have to put the word “Mum” in there, which is a little like saying you’re an “uproarious funeral director” – both words kind of cancel each other out. Some people like to use the term “Yummy Mummy” but that just rubs me the wrong way whenever I hear it applied to anyone who’s not all laid out on Hannibal Lecter’s dining table. I don’t know why it drives me so crazy – but it does. It’s almost as bad as people saying “It’s All Good” when, clearly, it isn’t *all* good, nothing ever is, and to pretend that it is “All Good” is to be walking around in a state of perpetual delusion.
But anyway, I digress. Last night, when I was still musing on this post and my own state of “Mumsiness”, I found myself walking into the local supermarket with my bicycle helmet still on, a stained t-shirt which kept riding up and an old pair of pregnancy trousers that kept falling down. To protect the public from the Horror That Is My Midriff, I promptly pulled the trousers as high as they would go, so the stunning result was as bad as Simon “Harry Highpants” Cowell would look like if he wasn’t surrounded by American Idol stylists 24/7. Much to my delight, I ran into a fellow mother-of-three wearing her netball skirt and a heavy metal tshirt from a band her brother was in during the 80s. We regarded each other with the respect we deserved – after all, nothing we were wearing was inside out or could be classified as nightwear and – here’s the most impressive thing – there we were, both chillin’ in the dairy section of Coles, without our children while our husbands were at home doing the childwrangling. Now that’s cool.