An ad man’s woman

‘I knew I’d be a perfect mother. And my perfect baby would be a credit to my perfect mothering. I knew, too, that I would never ‘let myself go’ – that I would always be immaculately groomed and, eventually, surrounded by a whole family of perfectly clean, perfectly behaved children and a perfectly adoring husband in a gleaming, perfectly sparkling home.

‘Of course, back in those perfect days BC (Before Children), I also pictured babies either peacefully sleeping or smiling Heinzfully day and night. I imagined toddlers cutely toddling (never climbing or spilling) between afternoon naps and bedtime stories. I visualised crisply Fabulon-ed children, happily playing in sandpits (never mud). I would take my perfect brood for frolics in the park, with my long red hair (semi-permanent, naturally) blowing in the breeze. Then I would feed my hungry little human beans and tuck them into bed before a gourmet dinner for two, prepared with my own perfectly manicured hands. I’d be simply irresistible and he’d love how my hair shone.

‘Alas, I wasn’t like the TV mothers. I learned that happiness was not a dry nappy. I had nightmares about drowning under piles of nappies. I felt as though I was drowning in breast milk. In the supermarket, another shopper whispered, ‘Excuse me, your milk is leaking.’ Can you imagine a better start to the day? I automatically made an embarrassed check. It was the carton in the trolley she had been referring to!

‘I gave up being a Wella Woman sometime during the first year of motherhood. The baby woke up every time I was about to wash my hair (and whenever my beloved told me he loved how my hair shone), and there would be another centimetre of regrowth.

‘In between mopping up the spilt milk, I only ate half as much. And when the children didn’t empty their plates, it would be half as much again. I used to look great in a mini, too! There were night howls and musical beds. I started asking, ‘Have you got any protection?’

‘Oh ad man, ad man, show me the way,

To be that perfect woman every day.

Yes, I’ll shave and deodorise every inch of me.

I’ll be an ad man’s woman – naturally.’

(Manic Mothers)