Travels in Bali from a Mother’s Persepctive

WE are captive in our Balinese apartment. The rain is unrelenting and there are Mexican soap operas on the television. In the corridor outside, countless children host their version of the World Cup. As another goal is scored, it’s the abrupt end of siesta time for our baby daughter, Paris.

The pandemonium momentarily subsides as one of the culprits receives such an earful from his mother that I revise my plan to tell him off myself. Besides, as my husband Stephan points out, how threatening is a woman of meagre stature wearing floral yellow pyjamas in the middle of the day? I have to agree, and go back to admiring his painted toenails – apparently there has been a misunderstanding at the day spa.

Like all tropical downpours, it ends as quickly as it began, and we set off to visit the pool. This is Paris’s first overseas trip and considering how much stuff such a small person requires for a trip to the park, you can imagine what packing for a toddler visiting a developing nation is like. Unlike Stephan, who breezed in at the last minute, threw a few things into a suitcase and declared we were ready. So forgetting something was understandable. And in this instance, it was the bathers and the swimmer nappies.

You can’t buy swimmer nappies in Bali. I should know, after many attempts to describe my request to the blank expressions of shop assistants. We settle for “pull-ups” and although they are slender when dry, the moment they are submerged in water they swell, resulting in several nappy changes during each pool session.

Despite the other children’s attempts to ignore Paris’s massive bottom, she must be wondering if her butt looks big in her new bathers.

Between nappy changes, I enviously notice the couple on the opposite side of the pool, in the “adult” area. Engrossed in their books, every so often they stroke each other’s arm or pass a comment. They break away from their reading only to sip colourful cocktails. Sighing, I reminisce about our lives before parenthood. I am certain we didn’t have to rush around all day looking for nappies and bathers. My thoughts are interrupted by Stephan yelling, “Can you get another nappy ready?” The child-free couple flinch.

Back in our apartment, I get ready for dinner in record time. My thoughts drift back to the couple by the pool while Paris bangs her toys as she impatiently demands her meal. The concierge has organised an open-sided van to take us to an Italian restaurant. As we leave the serenity of Legian for the frantic beat of Kuta, Paris stands snug on the back seat between us. As our speed quickens, the wind blows her hair and she raises her tiny arms to catch the breeze.

She squeals with delight: “Whee, whee, whee.”

Motorbikes and madness engulf us. Paris’s gappy grin coaxes broad smiles and waves from all around. Enjoying her celebrity status, she calls out to her adoring fans, “Hello! Hello!” Suddenly and surely my memories of pre-motherhood bliss are dispelled just as quickly as Paris’s swimming nappies took to bulge.

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