Like most mothers, the other morning I was getting ready for work while keeping one eye on Ziya. Of course, she’s climbing up the cupboard to pull down shoes. She’s running up and down shouting, ‘foody mummy foody!’ (although these days, she’s also shouting, ‘tootoo mummy potty!’) while also trying to get as desperately near the iron as possible even while going, ‘Hot! Ssss! Danger!’ and making the face she does for hot things. Meanwhile, I am trying to bathe, match clothes, comb my hair and find earrings through all this while keeping her quiet so that she doesn’t wake her sleeping dad.
Of course, therefore, I began to script a documentary about this in my head while getting dressed. In my mind, there are two narratives, the one shot from my perspective where she’s everywhere at once and in everything at once. The camera itself could stay in place at various points in the story while nonetheless trying to shoot the entire room in both medium and close range simultaneously.
Meanwhile, there is her camera which occupies no location for more than any one second. That camera is noticing all the interesting things in the room: the bedside drawer where I accidently left the child proof lock off and where all manner of interesting things simply beg to be pulled out, explored, and scattered all over or hidden in various unlikely locations; the cupboard doors which, because they swing, must be swung; the iron whose reputation for being dangerously hot compels confirmation; the baby wipes which are wonderously never ending – once you pull out one, they all string along out too; the folded clothes which are clearly best refolded by 20 month old hands; and so on.
Then, in the documentary, the two cameras’ footage would be cut and spliced together to show the dizzying mania of a normal, unexceptional morning of a mummy trying to get changed, fed and out of the house. In my mind, I imagined the audience so drawn into this micro world and the mother’s management of it that just her getting out the door dressed and on-time with the baby in tow would evoke standing ovations and applause – because surely that’s how some mothers must feel when they finally get into their car or a taxi in the mornings and the mania has been ordered as if the hand of God herself came down to smooth things out.
I would never have shared these distracted musings with anybody, except when I got into work I heard the story of another mother trying to get her young son to camp and herself to work. It was exactly as I had pictured. My fantasy documentary suddenly didn’t seem like me being dramatic. It was about validating that unnoticed, hectic moment when mummies turn the explosion of life in a house into dressed children, packed lunchboxes and ironed clothes. The same mummy related today how she was so proud that she had gotten up early to pack and organize everything beforehand, only to forget her son’s lunch on the table. What could she do but sigh, get it fixed and aim to get it all right tomorrow. I thought she deserved my applause anyway.