My mother – along with many other mothers, I suspect – loves the saying ‘man proposes, and God disposes’, which for years made me roll my eyes and accuse her of being The Prophet of Doom in a Laura Ashley dress. It all sounds so hopeless, such a sledge hammer to the aspirations of the human spirit that it makes you wonder why man bothered to venture out of his cave in the first place. And yet, I’ve taken to saying it with alarming frequency these days.
I was aware life would change considerably once I had a child – but nowhere in the manual does it say it’s pure folly to make any plans, be they social or professional, because you will see them dashed against the rocks of the infinity loop of snot and sick that is life with a pre-schooler. That idyllic countryside cottage holiday at half term? Cancelled. That premiere of a new show for which you’ve managed to wangle guest tickets? Fuggedaboutit. And that funny sound in your bag? That’s the sound of your diary laughing at you for thinking your elaborately planned dinner date with actual adults is ever going to happen.
I also learnt this week why leisure-wear is seldom a good idea for any other reason than leisure pursuits. (A sub-clause of the wear-your-best-underwear-just-in-case-of-an-accident dress code.) My day job demands little from my wardrobe other than self-expression, which is all good and well while prancing around on-stage but not so great when you need to be taken seriously in an emergency. After my son managed to sustain a minor head injury at – against all the odds – a soft play centre, we found ourselves in A&E awaiting the results of a CT scan.
‘Life’s so unfair!’ I lamented to my sister on the phone. ‘Why do I never think these things will happen when I get up in the morning and decide what to wear?’
‘I think that’s the least of your troubles,’ she gently suggested.
‘But I look like a bag lady. I’m serious! The doctor keeps speaking v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y to me. It’s because I’m wearing fluorescent flowery jogging bottoms, isn’t it?’
‘No, it’s because you’re being hysterical.’
She was of course right. When at last we left the hospital, clothing was the last thing on my mind. Just relief, gratitude to the as usual fantastic staff at one of London’s busiest hospitals, and my new personal addendum to Murphy’s Law:
‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and it will happen in your worst outfit.’