I’m a bit of a chemical freak. As in, I freak when I get chemicals near me. Whether it be fly spray, strong medicines or even soap, I like to keep away from the harshness of the man made stuff.

Yet, when you start painting, your whole body is exposed to a myriad of chemicals. Naught turps and harsh oil based paints turn my nose up. I apply my inner peg and clog up my nostrils as best I can, hoping that only the sweet, pure air gets in. Alack and alas, this is impossible. Especially when you paint at night and you subconsciously inhale all those wonderful fumes while you sleep.

The extent of the fumes in my house was highlighted last night when my non-spewing husband staggered out of our bedroom at a Godly hour, eyes squinty, clutching his pillow. He said he was on his way to the ‘cave’ cos the fumes made him feel vomity. A lump of guilt and gross settled in my throat. Sure I was doing a super fantastic job, taking on the huge task of painting the hallway (including 8 doors, how good am I?) But it was taking a toll on the family. What can a mother do except keep going, airing out the joint and hoping that those damn fumes won’t leave any lasting effects on our poor little lungs.

Yes, I am a careful kinda person. I apply sunscreen when others may think it is overkill, I wear polaroid sunglasses (well, I have

image by Andrew Dunn

a pterygium – google it!), I try my darndest to make healthy meals (including lunches – there must be at least one vege on the plate), I drink heaps of water (though, really not enough) and I check my blind spot! High five me!!!! In the end, things will always come back to haunt you. When you have to paint, you have to expose yourself and others to chemicals. When you forget your sunscreen you have to either sit in the shade or put it in the ‘bad and doubtful debts’ box and enjoy yourself in the great outdoors. When there’s no more veges, there’s no more veges. Just eat the darn fish and chips sans salad! Apparently that’s called living, somewhere in between careful and foolish.

‘They’ say margarine and burnt meat and refined sugars and alcohol and sunscreen and cleaning products and shampoo etc will cause cancer. What doesn’t? You cannot live in a bubble (unless you really need to!). There’s the fumes from cars and in the end you have to choose between skin cancer and sunscreen cancer. I choose the latter. And sometimes you just need to paint. And that’s ok.

I still find chemicals icky and pah! I still will be careful about what I use. But there will be days when I throw caution to the wind and eat that chargrilled morsel, juices running down my chin, while grinning without regret.