The underground wind whisked around me as it always had, as it always would. The scent of London’s tube network is unique; part soot and grime, part ambition and possibility. It still smells of home.
Navigating the tube remains second nature to me; I don’t need to refer to a map to know that the Bakerloo line intersects with the Northern line at Charing Cross. I know the shortcut at Tottenham Court Road for the Eastbound Central Line. I know which exit to take at Holborn to get to Covent Garden, and which to take to walk towards Chancery Lane. The tube was my neighbourhood, my endz.
Surfacing at Goodge Street, I waited for my friend. I watched a Scientologist fail to hand out any Dianetics leaflets. I watched a pigeon with one leg. I saw young people hurtling past – maybe students, maybe just bright young things.
My friend arrived, we drank cocktails and ate lobster. We were – briefly – bright young(ish) things together. We talked of schooldays past, of friends, of politics, of careers and future plans and – just a very little bit – of our children.
I drank too much. I opined too loudly. I berated the barman for suggesting I might like to have a creamier drink rather than the bitter one I had ordered for myself. I fear I did not articulate my feminist response to having my drink choice mansplained as clearly as I like to remember, and may have slurred my words slightly. Pleasingly blurry though the world had become, an Uber seemed the most sensible choice to return to the overground station.
For four hours it was nice not to be just “Mummy”. And this is why yesterday’s Daily Hate article about “slummy mummies” is so offensive. Apologies for the link – don’t click on it if you’ve already read the article as I’d hate to generate revenue for them. Suggesting women shouldn’t use their voices or their sense of humour, or their writing ability to moan about motherhood because we should be treasuring every minute, detracts from our identity. Many of us have given up work, or reduced hobbies or friendships that made us who we are, in order to provide the best nurturing environment possible for our offspring. We write, laughing about our failures, our challenges and our experiences that deviate from the #soblessed myth because it reminds us that we are witty individuals, we do have a sense of humour and we can write. It also gives us some solidarity with others who are feeling the same.
In the moment, we don’t find it that funny when we accidentally put our hand in a full nappy, or a newborn throws up in our mouth, or our toddler sticks their finger up their nose, and then puts it in our mouth, but it makes a good story. So we tell it, and we find humour in the moments ourselves. And that keeps us going.
My children are amazing. But so are my friends, my interests, and so am I. My children are not the sum of all my parts. I will continue to write. I will continue to read. I will continue to express my opinion.
The hangover the next day was totally worth it.