This is a concept Mr B and I constantly discuss in our house; generally it’s me who has Hollywood expectations and is bitterly disappointed when life presents me with the cold unedited reality. Maybe it’s a girl thing but reality biting never seems to effect my husband in quite the same way as it does when I’m fucking mauled by it…
For example when we went to a friend’s babies christening; and I imagine a beautiful scene of us as a family of four dressed in our Sunday best. Ready for that wonderful family photo where we’re all together smiling, maybe not looking at the camera, a blissful family moment captured as luck would have in on someone’s smart phone (you know like those massively staged highly edited pictures you see in magazines of fake families that look like they adore one another and they’re having the best time – because there pay check depends on it!). Nobody got paid in our family, or would have been paid had we been on a job so to speak. Our photo is of Houdini hanging upside down whilst Mr B holds on to him for dear life grimacing, me smiling falsely like a loon trying to pretend I’m not bothered by the fact Houdini will not conform and have a nice photo whilst holding P who has her resting bitch face on! Needless to say it’s not one for the wall.
Or when we went to Cornwall for a family holiday; and I romantically sold the beach to Houdini as super mega fun – even in November. I bought splash suits, searched high and low for one small enough for P and off we went. I had visions of a blustery beach us all wrapped up in our wet weather gear foraging for shells and having a jolly old time. Like fuck were we having a jolly old time. Houdini was having a jolly old time as he’s a three year old boy and being wet doesn’t seem to faze him, but we (the three adults in tow) were not having such a ball; and P was OK ish with eating sand but shivering like a daemon and unable to move freely due to the three layers of clothes/ snow suit and splash suit I’d wrapped her up in. It didn’t help I knew grown up friends of ours without children were a mere 20 minutes drive away were having that romantic winter break in Cornwall I’d envisaged. Walking down the beach wrapped up in cashmere, holding a hot takeout coffee on route to a cosy pub with a log fire for a long leisurely lunch that could easily roll into a boozy dinner.
When we admitted defeat as adults – we were cold and damp and in need of a cup of tea laced with gin – we destroyed the three year olds world by asking him to come off the beach. I stupidly used sweets as a bribe to get him off the beach and the promise of TV on the laptop when we got home – I had no sweets and we weren’t’ going straight home, he has no ability to wait for these bribes so needless to say he wasn’t impressed when we got into the cosy pub just off the beach. We then had to remove wet beach wear to be able to sit in the pub without steaming up, great, but we then had to put it back on to get back to the car. Queue wrestling two damp octopuses into wet sticky cold splash suits in a packed pub with limited room as you try not to spray sand/ coffee/ vomit (P had an Amaretto biscuit to keep her quiet, that didn’t go down so well). The reality wasn’t the Hollywood scene I hoped for when we arranged the trip.
And my last example of reality biting my Hollywood ideals in the arse…Our wedding anniversary, a few weeks ago Mr B and I celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary; we had plans. Foolish foolish beings that we are thinking we could make plans. Nothing grand but plans to go out for dinner on Saturday night just grown-ups, getting a bit tipsy (not enough to cause a hangover in the morning, no one needs that with two smalls in tow). And then maybe we’d go out for a lovely family day on Sunday. A scamp about Avebury Stone Circle a day filled with us running through the autumn leaves, a cosy lunch in a little pub, open fire, blissfully looking at our children across the table thinking to ourselves how fab things have turned out in seven years…here you’re all thinking unrealistic fool right?
Yep fools we were, the above ideal was and is the Hollywood. The scripted couples anniversary weekend. Not the reality
The seeds for things going wrong were being sewn on the Friday when I took the smalls to soft play and Houdini spent far too much of the time sat with us at the table complaining his teeth hurt. Queue a night of howling (at times from both tiny humans that we own) over said hurty teeth; that was actually a bitten tongue/ huge blister. We gave Houdini drugs, all the drugs we could and endless snuggles. We mumbled at one another as we passed on the landing swapping shifts in Houdini’s bed that we must buy him a new mattress – for future nights like this and the sake of our backs! On Saturday morning we cancelled the babysitter and the table for that evening and our family day turned out to be a family trip to the out of hours Dr at A&E following a second night of bed hopping and a “Happy Anniversary” to one another as we once again crossed on the landing.
Well we went for lunch after A&E we managed that much of the plan. P spat food at me and threw rice cakes at Houdini. I shovelled pan fried salmon down my beak as quickly as possible to enable hands free to hold P into the highchair she was on a mission to stand up in. Houdini licked the butter dish clean, having eaten nothing for two days other than custard we didn’t stop him. He didn’t want food, so we didn’t buy him any food, we got him ice cubes (much to the other diners bemusement) which he spat out into his drink, our drinks, the side plates. We gave him our phones, we bribed him with the promise of sweets to sit still. We muttered under our breath. To which he said ‘pardon Mummy why is it for fuck sake, you haven’t dropped anything’. We tried, very very hard to be that Hollywood family for the day.
Needless to say our day was anything but Hollywood, it wasn’t even a for TV only movie. But it was ours, we got through it.. High five we’re all still alive, and I’ll take that.
Essentially I’ve come to the conclusion I’ll keep aspiring for the Hollywood. It’s my aspiration that gives me hope to carry on through the shit storms that seemingly come your way on an all too regular basis as a parents. And having spent a glorious evening in Cornwall recently reminiscing about my childhood and all of the eccentric characters in our family with my cousin, I realise it’s not the perfect days or the situations where everything went right that we remember. We remember the fuck ups, the epic disasters, the baby brothers getting in grandparents ponds, and they are the memories that we laugh and cry over in equal proportion.
So next time P or Houdini piss all over my Hollywood dreams I’ll remember in 20 years time we’ll laugh together about it; like the time Houdini built me a sand castle in his bedroom from talc and Sudocrem for my birthday…