Once my belly was prominent I didn’t really want to go to clubs or be around crowds of people. Our friends, Pete and Lee, had an unspoken but well-understood open door policy. Their place was like a train station every weekend. Late one Saturday night, sitting at their 1950’s laminate dining table in inner-Brisbane, near the river, with the brewery lights flashing through the leafy surrounds, the uncommon occurred and the topic swung around to living with a baby? Lee’s kids were years older than mine. She was probably the first friend in our wider circle to get married and have babies. They were birth centre babies too.
‘I can’t say how it will be for you. I can only say how it was for me.’ She evaded my question.
‘How was it for you then?’
‘You knew me then. You saw me.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘Well, it’s hard work, but…you love your baby. You get by.’
I looked at Paul. It didn’t sound very promising to me. Lee is a talented singer. She used to play guitar and sing folk songs at Dooley’s and other popular bars and clubs. She gave it up to focus on family and in the process, lost herself. Her marriage broke down, she left her husband and her boys to be with Pete and now she was back to singing and playing music again, but only seeing her boys on the weekend. Not my stereotypical vision of motherhood.
She turned it back to me asking, ‘Do you feel ready?’
‘You’ll be fine Jodie. You’re not me.’
I tried to believe her.
‘Do you need anything? I have some old cloth nappies you can have. You’ll be using cloth, won’t you?’
‘Um, sure, I’ll use them. Not sure I can imagine going cloth the whole way. Nappies are too much hard work.’
‘Oh come on Jodie, you of all people can do that.‘
‘Sure, I’ll use cloth at home. That makes sense to do. I just…can’t imagine dealing with, well, you know….’
‘Poop?’ she laughed. ‘It’s par for the course.’
‘But how on earth did you clean them?’
‘I scrubbed them by hand.’ She flicked her head regally. I could not imagine it. Not of her, not of me.
Time to go home. I half-heartedly took the nappies. Me and washing: it’s a complicated relationship and we go way back honey.