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Nitty Gritty

This is an on-going series that investigates Bella Horlor’s new role as a young mother. An artist and poet, Horlor shares the banal quandaries that exist between artistic and maternal labour.


So I have a tendency to get extremely poetic when it comes to motherhood. It really is the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me. But.

Humans are messy, humans can be annoying, humans can be hilariously absurd. Having a baby is a concentrated intimate version.

For instance, for months I have been unable to leave the baby alone while I go to the toilet, so she has to come with me. I take easily sterilised toys (no plushies) and try keep her occupied and in one place. Now that she can crawl she has become curious about what lies behind the toilet, so I have to fend her off, dangle toys in her face, and protect my limbs from her gnashing jaws.

Sometimes she crawls off and I have to try call her back, mid bowel movement, as I hear various things crashing to the ground.

I had to baby proof the lounge because she kept ripping apart my paperbacks. She now has six shelves for her toys and books. The best use of those shelves is apparently to pull everything off them into a heap on the floor, then sit on top of the heap. When I try put things away she slaps at my hands like a possessive beaver with her dam and incoherently shrieks.. Then she pulls them all off again with flourish, giving me the self-satisfied look of, “What are you going to do about it huh?!”

Sisyphus never had so much cheek.

Then there are meal times. You can’t feed her with a spoon, she feeds herself with the spoon thankyouverymuch. Sometimes she pokes herself in the eye with the spoon and that is definitely my fault. So I have to hand the plastic cup and spoon to her, and she goes about her bizarre feeding rituals. Pumpkin purée seems to be a wonderful facial treatment however it does leave her looking distinctly Oompa Loompa. Lately she’s even been trying to shove the food into her ear canal, and when I stop her I’m the asshole, again. Eventually she tires of the eating process so this maniacal orange ball of flesh will pelt me with her food and utensils. Then protest loudly when I take it away or try clean up.

But you know what they say, ‘Food before one is just for fun.’ She’s still mainly breastfed which is a lovely experience. Although the solids are doing crazy things to her digestive system. Her little tummy was making all sorts of creaks and she was grizzling with the pain of cramps. So, like any girl, she was comfort eating through it. I had her all cradled tightly and I was singing soft folk songs, her eyelids were slowing down beautifully when she makes a loud straining noise and I feel a little purr followed by the most ghastly smell. The strain and all that comfort milk must have been too much, and she vomits profusely down her front. My girl isn’t fond of being soiled so she just cries and cries and I’m trying to wipe her down, ripping off her nappy and onesie,  as she tries to roll and crawl away. I’m chasing after her trying to get all of the poo off her bum before she sits down and smears it everywhere. So that’s fun. Sometimes she gets her hand in it and I have to stop her from eating it or smearing it on her face.

Some days by the time my partner gets home, I’m just standing at the window missing half my hair, with scratches on my chest and dried food on my dress. But even then the baby and I are usually giggling.

She just learned to dance recently. It really is all quite fun.

Bella Horlor

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