So, I’ve written a piece for the Daily Mail which is out today.
This feels a bit like putting my head in the stocks and sending a global email to everyone I’ve never met, saying, ‘Hey guys – please come and throw rotten tomatoes (and worse) at me! Come on! Have go! I’m here for a bashing! Enjoy yourselves – have a beer while you’re here! First one’s on the house!’
It’s lots of fun, really.
It’s also causing a certain degree of panic and obsessive page-refreshing behaviour. Thus:
9am. Have my first peek at the article. God, what is that photograph?? I look like a second-rate model in a homewares catalogue who was drafted in because the first person they hired came down with diarrhoea. And what’s with the sickly smile, Ms Fraser?? I don’t even recognise myself. Luckily this means nobody I know will recognise me either. Sorted.
(I bet you didn’t know that the Mail has a ‘dress code’ for pics, did you? Well, neither did I until the photographer arrived. Turns out there’s a ‘no denim, no trainers, no bedhead hair or generally looking at all like you normally do’ policy. This is a shame, as all I ever wear is jeans – skinny, boyfriend, bootcut…anything so long as it’s jeans! – long-sleeved Ts, flats or Converse and ponytail hair. You know…like most people. So off I went to find a skirt, pretty top and hair brush. I drew the line at heels and was allowed my ballet pumps. Still, it’s a look you’ll never, ever see me sporting anywhere else, so enjoy it…and then erase it from your mind.)
9.02am. OK, so how many comments are there? 15! Wow. Already. Shit. Someone’s actually reading it.
9.05am. Now it’s up to 21. Eeek. Are they nice? Dare I look?
I dare not. make a cup of tea instead.
9.07am. OK, this i silly. I dare. Can’t be that bad. Scroll, read.
Well whaddayaknow, some comments are actually nice. Very nice. Women who understand what I’m on about are saying thank you for the piece. Hurrah! Some people out there ‘get it’. I am not a complete laughing stock after all. Just a little bit of one.
There are other comments, of course, saying charming things like, “Oh, get over yourself, stupid woman!” (par for the course, really) and ‘what is this vacuous moron whingeing about – pregnancy has been making women fat and miserable for Centuries. What’s the big deal?’ (most of these, I notice, are written by a men, who haven’t expelled human beings from their Holiest of Holies and leaked breastmilk while shagging. If they had, they’d know it is actually quite a big deal. But hey ho. Onwards…)
The point is, I suppose, that everyone is different: some women give birth and feel sexier than they’ve ever felt before. Being in bone-crushing pain for 30 hours makes them feel stronger and more powerful and more…womanly. They are sexy, confident mothers from the moment the placenta hits the delivery room floor and I’d say ‘Yeah! You go girl!’ if it didn’t sound a bit too Oprah for me. I do pats on the back instead.
But by far the majority of mothers I’ve interviewed over the years of writing my books, or mum friends that I’ve chatted with over a few too may bottles of vino, say that there was a period after they had each baby where they didn’t feel like a sexual being AT ALL. That their bodies were temporarily rented out to a small, crying, puking child who needed it for nourishment, comfort and love; that they felt more functional than sexual, and that this became a mental state of mind, a habit, that was hard to break for a number of years, not weeks.
In short, that they found it hard to play two roles with one body. (no, that’s not French Maid and Nurse, before you ask. It’s Mummy and Sexy Lady. Geeez, what are you like?)
It happens to many women, and it can really rock your sense of identity and confidence.
Luckily for us and our partners, there seems to come a day when, without fanfare or warning, we suddenly get our mojo back again. A day when sex – for our own pleasure, and not because we feel we really ought to in case he runs off with Sue from Accounts, if you know what I mean – is on the menu once more. We are no longer milking machines or baby factories or tied 24/7 by invisible but darned strong apron strings to people who need us to wipe their noses for them.
We are sexy WOMEN in our all glorious guises – are far sexier than we’ve ever been before. Just a little bit less pert in places…
And just knowing that this is a common thing that many mothers experience will, hopefully, make mums worry less that they are failures, be more open about it and try to take steps to keep their Sexy Mamma side in check.
So, read the piece (unless you’re pregnant, in which case avoid it like the plague and read my books instead ; -)), ignore the photos and vomit-worthy captions – actually, do read those. They’re hilarious – and make your own mind up about it.
It’s meant to provoke debate, get people talking and help. I think it’s certainly doing that already! xx