The scene: 6.43pm last Friday night outside Pizza Express. I’d arranged to meet my husband and the urchin there at 7pm for pre-weekend japes. My iPhone died around 6.47pm. The team never pitched up (they’d scooted round the corner to Gourmet Burger because there weren’t any tables in the pizza emporium) and so there we were, on a Friday night, sitting approximately 100 metres apart, eating a Sloppy Giuseppe and ‘The Mighty’ cheeseburger, respectively.
It wasn’t so much the complete breakdown of communication that got me (iPhones seem to have the battery life of a narcoleptic mosquito – bring back the pigeons!), it was more that I was given time to think. And without the social crutch of Instagram and What’s App, I started getting angry. Like, properly narked off to the point where even a platter of dough balls couldn’t calm the storm.
I was angry at my husband for not being there – even though I was communicatively powerless (entirely my fault), we had a deal, right? 7pm. I was angry with my work for making me so desperate to clap eyes on the urchin. If David Attenborough had been filming in the vicinity, he’d have relayed in his calming dulcet tones: ‘And here we have the primitive female human madly muttering to herself while nibbling on a caprese.’
I was angry at our new house with its inability to function as a house – it’s got one job, to keep water out. #housefail. I was angry at Pizza Express for being Pizza Express. I was angry at myself.
At which point my husband arrived. It’s not said enough, but ‘poor Matt’. My life comrade had to witness a complete dough ball-embellished meltdown. There were tears, there were tantrums, there was finger pointing, there was blame. It was ugly. Like, Britney Spears circa. 2007 ugly.
But what I had forgotten in my selfish, self-absorbed snotty ramblings was the urchin – huge Disney-esque eyes gawping at this monstrous maternal mess. It was the first time she’d seen me cry.
I’d meticulously wiped tears from her cheek for everything from felt tip-in-eye incidents to launching off slides. I’d hugged her tight for hours on end when she was suffering from bouts of the most intense colic at 6 weeks and I’d played stupid – she loves my MC Hammer-style rapping rendition of Ba Ba Black Sheep in her darkest moments – when she was rushed to hospital at 16 months after falling off our bed (my fault).
“Mama’s sad so I tickle her”. That was the urchin’s response. And it was such a change of pace, such a wonderful moment that there was absolutely nowhere for me to go but into the happy place. Because for all the anger and rage building up in every avenue of our intense parental lives, it takes one laugh, one squawk, one raw moment of love to cut through the shittiness.
And, perhaps, an iPhone charger.