‘So what do you fill your days with?’ a friend asks in an email.
I stare at the screen frozen. What exactly do I do every day?
I have no idea.
My fingers hover over the keyboard as I try to think. I have become one of those women I used to read about with a mixture of scorn and pity and maybe a fraction of envy in Hello! – the ones who spend their days lunching and sunbathing and shopping. Except it’s like some sick alter-universe. I’m lunching in the kinds of places that have photographs of the food displayed on the walls and shopping in the kinds of places that have bins of fake crocs. I’m not even managing the sunbathing because it’s too hot to sunbathe – even for me. It’s too hot to do anything other than stand naked under the air conditioning unit.
So what then am I doing with my days? Other than standing naked under the air conditioning unit?
Well let’s start with yesterday.
Woke up. Went for breakfast. Came back. Grabbed rubber ducky. Went to beach (sat in shade). Parasailed. Came home. Went for Chinese. Came home. Played snakes and ladders. Went to beach (sat in shade). Ate dinner. Came home. Watched sisterhood of the travelling pants II. Slept.
Ok that’s not all I do. I also spend several hours of each day pleading with Lula to put on suncream, brush her teeth, wear her hat, eat her squid, wipe her bum, wash her hands, not answer back, put some knickers on. That takes a few hours for sure.
I think back to when I lived in the UK. My days were filled with work, commuting, bill paying, emailing, talking to friends, cooking, cleaning, parenting, laundry-doing – usually three of the above at once – being a female of the species.
Here, I don’t do any of that. My commute is to the beach, I haven’t picked up a saucepan in five months, I did clean once – in India – I squirted some detol over the floor where we’d seen a cockroach, I don’t do laundry – I did once in Singapore and realised how much I didn’t miss it, I don’t talk to friends because I haven’t yet signed up for skype out, I don’t pay bills because I don’t have any, so the only thing I do do is parent. And that would be what fills my days. 24/7 because most of the time we’re sharing a bed with Lula and I’m the one waking fifty times a night when she cries out for ‘more ice-cream’ or wakes up needing a poo.
Parenting. For the woman who begged her boss to give her some work, 6 days after giving birth, it’s a turnaround. Ironically – we wrote ‘more time for Alula’ on our post-its when discussing our reasons for leaving. I only wrote that though because I wanted to appear self-less and like travelling around the world was a great big act of parental self-sacrifice and nothing whatsoever to do with the fact I wanted a year-round suntan.
And now I find myself parenting full time, well apart from when we were in Bali and she was at school and then we had Ketut (the nanny that Lula turned into a gimp) and when we were in India and she was at school in the mornings. Other than that – full time. And it’s great – other than the battles over suncream and teethbrushing and wearing pants. Today Alula told me she loves me billions and a hundred and all the way back to London.
But still. I can’t wait for Monday. Bali. And school.