Have you seen the little girl, with tangled blonde curls, day dreaming and singing to herself? She has an army of nervous angels surrounding her, as she stumbles over the side walk, narrowly missing her loose shoe lace and oncoming traffic, completely oblivious. My poor angels complain to God constantly about my clumsiness and that I apparently “embarrass them” in front of the other angel teams. I overheard them ask Him: “Why does our human have to have double the amount of protection compared to other humans who have normal reflexes?”
Even though I trip or break something daily, amazingly to my and my family’s surprise, I’ve never been in a major accident and I’ve never broken a single bone. My husband always says that I’ve mastered the art of falling – the trick lies in slowing down your fall in order to give your brain the time necessary to calculate the softest way to land.
My dad passionately tried to teach me how to play tennis. I loved running full speed and stopping an arm’s length away to hit the ball across the court. My dad taught me how to stay loose on my feet in order to be prepared for any rogue balls. I used to imagine that Nelson Mandela was watching us to try and keep myself motivated. Tarzan, the animated movie was really popular at that stage and Phil Collins’ song: “You’ll be in my heart” was always playing on the radio on our way back from the school courts. It became our tennis song.
I excitedly signed up for tennis and imagined myself in those sexy short white skirts, knowing I’ll never keep it clean. In my very first game, I was shocked to learn that there were rules and lines and points. My balls either went over the fence or lodged in the net. And apparently people like to watch you play? No one told me this. I immediately became overwhelmed and embarrassed and continued to play in secret and eventually lost interest. But sometimes when I’ve had enough beer at a party, I become a force to be reckoned with at accidental ping pong competitions.
My dad tried to teach me how to do long jump. I come from a family of sprinters and I’ve inherited their massive, muscly thighs. Unfortunately mine are attached to number 8 sized feet and an insecure personality. My dad trained me on Sunday afternoons and this time, the Back Street Boys were cheering me on in my imagination. In high school, I always tried out for long jump. The sand pit was right in front of the pavilion where the teams were chanting: “Jamblikke, visblikke, drie-by-drie! Ons is, ons is, weet julle wie!”. I was running full speed, the Back Street Boys jumping up and down… My right yeti foot caught the edge of the take off board, my calf buckled and I dove spectacularly into the sand pit, face first. I skid right through to the edge of the pit, my underwear and contact lenses full of sand. The Back Street Boys were laughing along with the rest of the school. That’s when I started listening to Linkin Park. That same day, I lost my sandy contact lens just before attempting a hurdles race. You’re bound to run into some hurdles and surprised competitors with one eye closed.
My dad bought me a guitar after that and I started writing poetry, the only possible sports injury being paper cuts.
I tried sport, I really did! I automatically ducked when someone threw me a netball. I picked up some random crying kids on a snow sled when I was an exchange student in Germany. I sat backwards on the rowing machine at the gym. I recently injured my tail bone when jumping into a river with my brave siblings and had to take a donut cushion wherever I went. So I started listening to Iron Maiden.
My clumsiness is not only activated by sports but also by admin. My dress gets caught in my pantyhose, I loose parking tickets and I always forget to buy toilet paper. I’ve made friends with other Clumsies. Our angels exchange funny stories about us when we meet up and get lost together. I’ve learned that our minds are just… otherwisely occupied. That’s why many nerds are clumsy. They are calculating, planning, innovating. In my case I’m imagining, fretting, writing.
I was still learning the choreography when I did my first IUI. On the morning of the procedure, the nurse asked me to fill my bladder. Easy! The women in our family all have… nervous, tiny bladders and our first task in a new house or mall, is to always find the bathroom. I drank 2 litres of water. Science says that a female adult bladder can hold 2 cups comfortably. My maths… was a bit off. My bladder and I had to wait an hour and a half. I rocked bank and forth and chanted. It didn’t work. My husband tried to tell me funny stories – what a horrible idea! Eventually I promised the nurse that I’ll pee just a little bit. It only aggravated and activated my bladder. I ran past her three times and she laughed, saying it happens all the time. I tried to lie down, panicked and sat up again, counting the dots on the linoleum floor. When our doctor came by and asked who is first I shouted: “Me! Me! Me!”. “He has 4 kids – he must have been peed on before?” I wondered. I think all the stress of keeping my bladder in control, probably made the cramping of my cervix worse and the doctor struggled to get the catheter in. I had to lie down for 10 minutes afterwards. My husband helped me dress at 9 minutes and at the 10 minute mark I ran like in my long jump days, with untied shoes and open jeans and had the most tranquil bathroom experience of my short, clumsy life. My second IUI was a much calmer, drier experience!
Today is a public holiday in South Africa, Women’s day. I woke up, with full blown PMS symptoms and I almost convinced myself that my second IUI has been a failure. I feel a bit like I’m being very clumsy at being a woman and being an adult. My one beautiful and clumsy friend (she won’t mind me calling her that, we joke about it all the time) came over for an artsy day in our garden. We know our talents are just more cultural in nature: drawing, cooking, knitting, sewing, writing, playing guitar, watching art movies, dreaming and feeling. It was lovely to just forget about the admin of life and laugh about the ridiculousness of life.
When I started hiking with my siblings and when I started running with my husband, I had to learn that I am more capable than I believe and that I have some baseline, borderline sports talent. When you’re clumsy and blonde, people underestimate you all the time and eventually you start believing you can’t. But being clumsy has also taught me to realise and to admit when I’m not good at something and to move on. Maybe I’m not capable of catching the fertilised egg or to clear the implantation hurdle. Maybe my angels are tired of saving me. Maybe falling pregnant is just another sport I suck at.