I talk a lot more about vomit and poo than I ever used to. Its true. The joy of parenting. 3am spew flowing through fingers in a somewhat hopeless attempt to avoid changing a bed sheet for the fourth time that night. Bucket lying somewhere on the floor. Wife throwing up in the room next door. Pregnant mothers with morning sickness (that really is all day sickness), they are superhuman. The next morning our boy is playing and holds up the bucket and pretends to vomit in it. Just like mum does. He laughs his head off as he does so. This is who we have become, I think to myself. Vomit and poo. They have become a consistency in my life. Often more so than writing and poetry.
And if its not these bodily explosions than its hour after hour of reading the same book over and over, the hungry little caterpillar, he has eaten through planets worth of food by now. And there can be no lying down for more than ten seconds before being pulled up from the couch to play games and to chase the boy around the house and its one more load of washing and the lawn that needs mowing and dirty dishes in the sink and this play ground followed by that one and its a crying son and counting down the hours till mum gets home and this, this is life. This is all life. The mundane kicks you in the balls sometimes. Leaves you exhausted.
And I don’t just see it in my life as a parent. But it’s there for us all. Behind the instagram photo and the Facebook post there lies reality. Mundane reality. Vomit and poo. We spend our lives running from it, escaping from it, but its always gonna be there. Even for the full-time poet, or the famous singer or the actor or the travel photographer or the…(insert any glamourised vocation). It is all filled with the mundane. So I figure we might as well own up to it then.
Your life is not that exciting. Sure there are moments of exhilaration worthy of the movies. But most of the time its working hard and cleaning dishes and answering emails and dealing with annoying people and problems with your bowels and a friend who is depressed and its eating and pooing and buying groceries and getting sick and insect bites and self-doubt and crippling loneliness and suffocating families and watching countless hours of TV. There is no escape. Life can be so darn…boring.
But I do wonder if it has to be. I wonder if boredom comes only when we give ourselves to it. I wonder if boredom comes because we have lost our sense of wonder. Wonder at the small things. I wonder if learning how to wonder again is a way out of this. I wonder if I have used the word wonder to many times in this paragraph.
But could I find the wonder still at 3am cleaning up vomit? I am sure it must be there. Possibly in the knowing that I have a child and this child looks like me and he came out of the love of my wife and I. And I know so many people who cannot have children for one reason or another and actually how blessed I am that I can clean up his vomit and if need be I could take him to the doctors whilst so many sick children in the world do not have any access to medicine. This is life. Beneath all the mundane and all we are tempted to be bored with and escape from, I do wonder if there is always more to it.
Sometimes, these days, I envy those not ‘tied-down’, the single poets who don’t have to provide for a family of soon-to-be four. Those able to get up and tour the world and perform and have fun till all hours of the morning, through all seasons of the year. But its not my season now. Not for that. I envy them, until I remember, how hard the reality of touring life is. I still get to take part in it, maybe not like other poets right now, but I still travel and tour. It just has to look different for me. But regardless, whether I am home with my child full time, or able to travel away on weekends or whether I have the ability just to be a free spirit and travel where the wind takes me. Everyone. Everywhere. All of us, we are still faced with the mundane. Hours lying on the ground in airports or hours trying to put my son to sleep. Cold, sterile hotel rooms or a home dripping with love and sameness. The grass seems to be always greener. It never is. So I call BULLS#%T on the ‘tied-down’ lie. I call it for what it is. A lie, a taunt, thrown at others by people wanting to feel better about the season of life they find themselves in. Rather, let the rope that ties you down be the anchor that holds you in the midst of storm and circumstance.
Perhaps the trick to this thing called life is to find the wonder right where you are. The grass on which you stand. Right where I stand. The grass on which I stand. Vomit and poo from a son who makes me laugh more than I ever have. Countless children books carefully crafted from extraordinary artists. A wife that I still call home who is soon to give birth to a Melody. Clothes hanging on a line in the yard of a house that keeps me warm and safe. Dirty dishes washed after eating delicious meals with the family and friends. Time to write. Like right now. It may not be as much as I would like. But it is there. This is life. This is all life.
So may we delve beneath the facade of the self we want to project out to everybody else. Let us not seek to escape from the mundane reality that we find beneath it. Boredom is the curse of a generation who has been given too much. Let us see if somewhere in the midst of it all we can find the wonder again. The grass is not greener on the other side. Let us find meaning in the mundane. Beauty in the boring. Enchantment in the everyday. Positivity in the poo. The virtuous in the vomit. (Ok that may be taking it too far:). This is never easy. This will not be easy. It flies in the face of societies conditioning. Especially with something so ridiculously selfless as parenting. But surely it is worth trying. Whatever season you find yourself in.
So here’s to life in all its glory and all its ordinary. I’ll see you there, in the midst of it all, probably with red tired eyes, vomit stains on my shirt and poo beneath my fingernails.