‘I need a haircut.’ I say complaining for the millionth time about my unruly locks. I’m still morning the loss of my fine, dead straight blond(ish) hair, the kid of hair I did not appreciate when I was letting it dry naturally straight from the shower and running a brush or my fingers or whatever I had handy before sauntering out into the world without a backwards glance at the mirror. Now the mirror just laughs at me, and I’ve tried all different cuts to figure out what to do with my now frizzy, slightly curly, thick, wiry mousy brown hair. Whose hair is this anyway? If some one had told me my hair would change this much with kids, I might have not gone into it so brazenly. Then again if someone had told me my life would no longer be my own, that it would almost kill my marriage and as a bonus I would be so tired I’d feel it in my bones, oh hang on, they did, I just thought It’d be different for me, somehow, I naievely/arrogantly thought I would figure out a way to be more resilient (I did not).
‘Why don’t you get a pixie cut?’ says my Mum.
I’m sure my eyes grow wide and my skin pales somewhat. ‘Maybe…’ I say attempting to find a polite way to say hell no. I’m still holding out hope that one day I will wake up to find my hair had miraculously returned to its former glory. I’m also hoping to sleep soundly through the night. Neither look good at this point.
We have an au pair. Yes, we have officially become that family. The one I only ever heard about in books and movies. The one I’ve heard people talk scathingly about and judge for ‘outsourcing’ their responsibilities. The one my husband has been suggesting we evolve into for years and I have stubbornly, dragged my feet (and my adrenals), kicking and screaming as I insisted, No, No, No, I could do it all, I would do it all, and in fact, I should do it all. I cannot do it all. My body has made it very clear that I should not be doing it all. And most importantly I’ve discovered, I do not actually want to do it all, not alone anyway. I’m not a very nice person when I’m doing it all.
We are all sick within a week of arriving in Amsterdam. Mum gets it first, a gastro bug that leaves her pale and shaking. She spends the night on the toilet but feels okay the next day, well okay enough to potter around the house in her pastel rainbow-coloured t-shirt nightie, the white hoodie we’d managed to find at H&M, because she doesn’t own a jumper and Amsterdam is celebrating a scorching top of 8 degrees C, and the pair of ankle socks we’d bought at the market. Okay, we think, a little cocky, this is not so bad.
My youngest is next to fall victim. I brush the clammy curls from my youngest’s forehead, and read to her, while she begs me to put something on her dry toast. Dr Google suggests apple but then diarrhoea foams in her nappy. I strip her off, change her clothes, strip the bed she is lying on, and much to her horror, we revert back to dried toast. When her weak cries for prosciutto or peanut butter or whatever it is that her sister happens to be eating get too much, I press play on the iPad and distract her with Doc McStuffins. Within 48 hours though, she is better. My husband is struck down next, however, he lays prone in bed for almost a week. He looks ashen, the lines on his face a little deeper, a grey-flecked beard sprouting messily across his chin. Everything about him looked tired and grey, like his charcoal pyjamas, which Mum had accidentally shrunk in the dryer and then tried to stretch back out. He looked exactly like Robin Williams when he was trying to remember that he was Peter Pan.
‘Where are you?’ asks the Uber driver over the phone. My mum and I are at Ikea, picking up a few bits and pieces for the house. ‘Near the uitgang,’ I say pronouncing it oo-it-gang. The uber driver laughs, ‘I know where you are.’ I don’t recognise or understand a thing in this country. I […]