Soft Porn & Power Rangers: A Mother’s Life

‘Edward inhaled sharply; with a groan of desire, his hands suddenly came alive over her body. They moved from her hair to her face and then lower, taking in the curve of her shoulders and the heat of her neck. His fingers traced the damp fabric of her dress, a tantalising line across the swell of her-’

‘Mummy, my tummy hurts.’

With a jolt I am brought back to reality. Standing in the doorway, pale and wan, is my five-year-old son. Clad in his Spiderman pyjamas, with one hand clutching his beloved, battered teddy, he looks at me anxiously.

I immediately abandon my laptop.

‘What sort of hurt?’ I ask, laying my hand against his forehead, finding it reassuringly cool with no hint of a dreaded fever. ‘Like you’re going to be sick hurt?’

‘Mmm-hmm,’ my son manages to reply, before vomiting all over my hand, clothes, his teddy and the floor.

For a moment we both stand in sick-covered horror. I can’t immediately shout for my husband, who is working in Paris. All I can do, as my son begins to cry, is pick him up and give him a big cuddle.

‘It’s okay,’ I tell him, though really these words are to reassure me. I take him upstairs, strip us both off and start the shower. Once we are both clean, I look for fresh pyjamas.

‘Teddy,’ my son sobs, and I take the sodden bear, depositing him in the washing machine.

I try to coax my son back into his bed, but without Teddy, he is having none of it.

‘Can I sit with you, Mummy?’

And so, I transfer my laptop into the living room, sitting uncomfortably on the sofa with my child sprawled across my legs and the unending nonsense that is Power-Rangers on the television.

‘His fingers traced the damp fabric of her dress, a tantalising line across the swell of her-’

My fingers hover on the keyboard. Swell of her what? In the background, the Power-Rangers are discussing dinosaurs and a flute that turns people into zombies. It’s hard to jump back into the boudoir of an early 19th century virgin – soon to be de-flowered by my very much Alpha male hero – when all I can ponder is the absurdity of children’s television.

As an author, words come naturally to me. I write meaty, conflict-driven historical romance novels (the much derided ‘bodice-ripper’) where feisty, independent heroines are willingly seduced by desirable men.

But as a mother, words fail me. When I am ‘Mummy’, I find it very difficult to slip into my character’s worlds and create romance. Perhaps it is the lingering smell of vomit or the inane chatter of increasingly withered looking Cbeebies presenters. Perhaps it is the constant demands made upon me or the detritus of children’s toys at my feet. Or perhaps it is the breathless beauty of my daughter’s sleeping face, or my son’s enchanting smile, that makes me stop, put away my work, and want to spend just a few more hours in their company. I’m sure Barbara Cartland wrote in a cloud of Chanel, sitting at an immaculate desk with a glass of chilled white wine. I write in the fog of motherhood, sitting amongst piles of work and ironing, a mug of lukewarm coffee in my hand.

Tonight, I have a deadline to adhere to. I must get my act together, ignore the Power-Rangers, and finish this chapter.

‘His fingers traced the damp fabric of her dress, a tantalising line across the swell of her-’

From upstairs, I hear the plaintive cry of a baby. My daughter has woken and needs milk and cuddles to resettle. Easing both my child and computer off my legs, I put a blanket over my son before rushing upstairs.

In the dark, soothing warmth of her room, I rock her gently while singing softly. Her slightly damp and sweet-smelling weight is heavy in my arms. When it seems she is asleep, I attempt to ease her back into her bed.

But its no good. As soon as her body touches the cot she goes rigid in my arms, screaming once more. I immediately pick her up again, starting the rocking/singing dance once more. And then again. And then again.

Forty minutes later, my daughter finally asleep, I stagger downstairs. On the sofa, my son has fallen asleep. I carry his weight upstairs, put him into his bed, drape a towel across his rug and floor in case of any more sickness, turn on his nightlight and tuck his two other favourite stuffed animals into his arms.

I retrieve Teddy from the washer and sit him on the radiator, so that when my son wakes the bear will be ready to go. I put the sick covered clothes onto a wash and then make a cup of tea.

‘His fingers traced the damp fabric of her dress, a tantalising line across the swell of her-’

There was limited contraception in early nineteenth century England, and what existed was mostly unsuccessful. I know, because I have researched the matter thoroughly, including a trip to a museum where I looked at the sad remains of a sheep gut condom. Should my hero and heroine carry on with their yet unwritten tryst (and they will) the chances of conception are quite high. I want to shake my heroine from across the page, tell her to abandon the path of desire and take to a nunnery, where she can sleep (sweet, precious sleep), wear clean clothing (albeit a habit) and sit in the quiet. The blissful quiet.

But she can’t give up on desire, or the purpose of my book will cease to exist. And I need my book to exist so that I might pay towards the upkeep of my own consequences of desire: my two children. And since having children, writing has been a hard slog. Try giving birth to an eight-pound baby without pain relief and then being asked to write an erotic short story with lots of penetrative sex. It just isn’t going to happen.

I drink my tea, staring at my laptop. Shaking off my tiredness, I flex my fingers and return to the nineteenth century, to my hero and heroine, to their upcoming passion.

‘His fingers traced the damp fabric of her dress, a tantalising line across the swell of her-’

From upstairs, another cry; it’s going to be one of those nights. I turn off my laptop, putting my character’s sex-life on hold. I can put my imagination on standby. The novel can wait.

My children can’t.

 

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By day Sharon mothers two smalls, watching more Peppa Pig than can possibly be healthy and consuming vast quantities of coffee. By night she writes historical romance, complete with ripped bodices and perfect saddle muscles, while drinking the sweet nectar that is wine. She doesn’t sleep. She never sleeps.

2 COMMENTS

    • Thanks Donna. The extract is from a book I finished late last year. Happy to say they eventually did get to have sex. It wasn’t her back that was involved in this scene, thus the word ‘swell’.x

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