I like so many women I know, can do lots of different things. And often simultaneously. I can get dressed, hoover the carpet, eat toast and reply to an email on my phone, and all at the same time as yelling at a small child who can’t find his shoes because he’s hidden them in a basket for reasons only he understands. Sometimes I truly impress myself with that common mum-like ability to travel through the day successfully, surrounded by several virtual plates spinning maniacally all about my aura. And often they don’t even come crashing down before I make it to the end of the day. Instead I’m able to place them neatly in the corner ready for the next morning, when once again I’ll be getting dressed, eating toast, tidying up and yelling at a child about getting dressed before he ventures out into the street to hunt for ants to observe, because he’s decided that they are the greatest possible pet option on a growing list of exotic creatures, all of which I’ve rejected so far. Nevertheless, I’m sometimes saddened but also perfectly honest enough to admit, there are plenty of things I have yet to master, and many that I likely never will. I have not worked out how to grow an extra couple of arms, although, lord knows, I could really do with a spare set. I haven’t worked out how to be in two places at once, and I can’t even deduce that young boys in places quite far from me are disgruntled because I’m not where they think I ought to be, at exactly the time they think they need me to be.
“I exist in a reality outside your head too, young boy! I’m a person in my own right, really, I am. How can I possibly know you’ve not got your keys if you don’t call and let me know?” He replied, “I did!” I looked at my phone. And it’s true, he did, precisely three minutes earlier. But not at the very beginning of the 45 minute episode that he’d been sitting on the doorstep waiting impatiently. “Where are you????” he implores with utter indignation on my voice mail.
And no matter how hard I try I will never be able to morph into a dustbin, coat-rack, towel or snack, regardless of how much my children think I am surely any one of those objects at any given point. And I will never, ever, ever be able to control the weather. Nope, not ever. And nor do I wish to either. This comes as a shock and rather bad news to at least two of my children who make weather-dependent demands and then become infuriated when it just doesn’t work out the way they hoped.
All of which made me immensely grateful when I spoke to a client who has some weather specific aims for her photographs. We’ll need to play things by ear and see what the weather is doing for that, I said. Of course, she replied, I’m all over ‘flexible’. When you’re dealing with small people on a daily basis, flexible seems like a most precious and cherished trait to come across in someone. Mind you, my client is a yoga teacher, and not a somewhat willful and intractable 8-year-old boy, so it seems perfectly acceptable to expect that of her. And because she’s a mum, I bet she can do loads of stuff at the same time, and a sun salutation to boot too. But of course she wouldn’t even try, because we all know, that way sheer madness lies.