Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Warriors, turkeys, aliens

Three Novembers ago, this house recieved it's first bald alien vole. On that infamous day two carefree twenty-somethings grew suddenly old, but all three survived the experience. Then one year ago, us two seasoned parents of one drove again through the empty, rain-washed streets of midnight to bring home a second vole from the clutches of the NHS. There followed a blissful few weeks of peace, then a desperately exhausting year. Only recently a sense of calm has returned to this house. But I remain suspicious, because this calm reminds me of a silent toddler who has found mischief in the next room.

We spent much of November hovered over flaming birthday cakes. While the kids joyfully tried to set their hair on fire, Papa and I trembled over the year gone and whispered with cautious optimism about the year to come. The business of flaming cakes done, the voles and I went for a day out in London. After accidentally getting caught up in a vicious tourist tangle surrounding the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, we went to kick up fallen leaves in Green Park.

Such a perfect day, drank fruit shoots in the park.
London parks in autumn are pure magic to kids and the childish (me) alike. Lampposts twinkle in the mist, and curiously well-mannered squirrels dart along crooked paths and up ancient knotted trees. There are even enchanted wardrobes and chalk drawings hidden between stacks of kicking-leaves if you look carefully enough.

Post-leafy-running-amok, the girls climbed back into their ponderous double buggy, and I steered our convoy through the streets of Mayfair en route to the Christmas-light-bedecked bedlam of Oxford Street. We were on Berkeley Square, Bentleys to the left of us and art dealers to the right, when we encountered a human obstruction: a huge, volatile Odin look-alike, who was both angrilly and gingerly cradling a steaming hot mug of something. He planted his feet squarely in front of the buggy and extended an accusatory 'ko' finger directly at Ali's head.

Be-suited men on either side of us bristled, then hovered at the ready.  London urban anonymity is a funny thingstrangers would rather jump in front of a bus than look you in the eye, but they will never fail to whip out first aid or judo as required.  'SPACE INVADER!' shouted Steamy Mug Man. Ali took on a guilty, cornered look, like a baby in the headlights, then released an ear-shattering crow. Steamy Mug Man relaxed, nodded, sipped his mug contentedly, and walked on. Ali blinked in confirmation. The suity men and I stood in awkward confusion for a moment, then relaxed back into urban anonymity and moved on. 

When we were nearly to Oxford Street, I realized that Steamy Mug Man must have been referring to Ali's hat (which clearly is a bit Marvin the Martiansee the sinkable Molly Dolly modelling it below*). I wonder if Steamy Mug Man realized the enormous wisdom of his words. Upon reflection, I am convinced he is either a) a prophet, or b) a papa who's own space has been similarly invaded.

All your space are belong to us. 
Speaking of space invasion, I only recently watched the film 'Aliens' for the first time. If you saw 'Aliens' in a more timely manner, back when dinosaurs still roamed freely, I will remind you of the final scene. It features Sigourney Weaver in a massive space-marine-lifter-suit-thingy, defending her adopted little girl in an all-out fight with the big-mama alien. Sigourney says some tough, sweary yo-mama things, then ejects the big nasty alien out into the vacuum of space. That job done, she turns to give her girl a cuddle. In prior scenes, 'Aliens' touches on various unpleasant aspects of early parenthoodchildbirth, the feeling of constantly being chased by creatures bent on your destruction specifically and world domination more generally, and an exodus of all fashion sense from the galaxy. But it is this final scene that offers up a wonderful and rare thing in film: a totally awesome maternal super-hero. Watching 'Aliens' reminded me of one of my favourite quotes: 'Becoming a mother' writes Naomi Wolf in Misconceptions 'requires a supreme focus, a profound discipline, and even a kind of warrior spirit.' 

This November marks one year since the arrival of the second space invader. So far, there are still four survivors. I say with cautious optimism that things are looking up, and I am deeply thankful for this. Additionally, I am thankful for the privilege of living in this land of magical parks, be-suited-judo-baby-defenders, and wise sages disguised behind steamy mugs. What I intended to do at the start of this ramble through a yellow wood was to send a holiday toast my fellows and family across the big blue watery space. So if you are still with me, I will do so without further delay.

May your turkeys be gigantic, your cranberries overflowing. May you never lose your cultural inclination towards optimism, your warrior spirit, your belief that tomorrow must be better than today (even when you are feeling as tired and battered as Sigourney after fighting a big nasty alien). May you enjoy your feast, momentarily unencumbered by your worries, and over-eat up to your eyeballs (I always do) till you fall over into a food-induced stupor, flanked all around by the warmth of your beloved space invaders. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

*A&E Mum: no offence intended. As you can see, the hat you gifted us remains a family favourite. 


  1. Beautiful. Maybe my favorite post yet. Love the flow of stories, like a Thanksgiving tapestry!

  2. Thanks OAG--'the dragon and his boy' remains a perennial favourite post with the MM readership by the way...updates on your favourite boy always welcome! Enjoy your gigantic bird feast today.

  3. Thanks for stopping by my "place" earlier :)

  4. Loved that.

    Happy thanksgiving to you!

  5. From one warrior to another that was stunning, very beautifully and intelligently written.

    Thanks for joining in and sharing this with the Maternity Matters Meme xxx

  6. Oooh you have such a different take on London than me. I would love to live the magical leaf kicking in the park. Thank you for sharing x

  7. Ah thanks Domestic Anarchist, such a lovely idea this meme, thanks for leading it!

    Jennie, this magical leaf-kicking London is mostly in my head actually :)

  8. An interesting read, but I'm now feeling quietly disturbed after comparing childbirth to an alien ripping out of my chest (or did I make that bit up?)...

  9. Mother Badger, I always thought of 'Alien' as a fairly realistic childbirth portrayal too...good thing there's entontox ;)