The Sins Of The Mothers

In view of Mothers Day in the UK yesterday, I thought I’d tell you about a funny little conversation I had with my son last week. For those of you with younger kids, be warned that like me you will reach a point with your almost-adult kids – usually at the end of  seven years of testosterone-fuelled silence with boys – when they believe they have a right to use the limited wisdom they’ve acquired in their twenty years, to judge your choices and more poignantly, your parenting skills.

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And let me assure you, it’s too soon.

 

I mean, I’m glad that my son feels he can reach out and share the disappointments of his young life with me. I assume that means we’ve forged some bond, (although with his ADHD, saying what he thinks has rarely been a problem), that he is comfortable about airing his views about the not so finer points of our journey together. But what I know – and what he has yet to find out, (and when he does I will be thousands of miles in a world of silence in a nunnery in India), is that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to parenting.

 

And I have learned from our time together – and unless I become one of those fifty-three-year-old women that fall pregnant in menopause because I haven’t been punished enough – the wisdom I will take away from him is not to try and mold our kids into our expectations, not to catastrophise too much about their refusal to conform. I would also recommend making friends with the local policeman, hiding the car keys once they have their license and access to Valium at all times.

 

We were in the car the other day, unusually only one row down about where exactly he is going with his life, when out of blue, he turned to me and said, ‘Remember when you changed the pin on the Disney channel, Mum? I’ve gotta tell you, that was badass. That scarred me.’

 

‘Well, you were becoming like those Disney brats with your whatevers every time I asked you to do anything – like go to school.’

 

‘You mean, you made me the victim of your own anxiety about bringing up a brat?’

 

‘Maybe…,’ I said, ‘Anyway, changing the pin didn’t work, did it?’ I said with a cheeky grin.

 

‘No, but it made me hate you for a really long time. A boy needs his daily dose of Hannah Montana,’ he said with a wink.

 

‘Mylie has a lot to answer for then.’

 

And I lectured him reminded him about how none of us parents really know what the fuck we’re doing most of the time, and while it definitely would have been a smoother ride if I’d had a textbook Dr. Spock kid, the rules of parenting keep changing anyway. (Although it never gets easier – I’ve lost count the number of times my fifty-something friends and I have spotted the toddler tantrum in the Coles cereal aisle and been forced to abort our Pods mission).

 

My parents didn’t have to worry about the influence of The Prince of Bel Air or that their daughter would think killing people on Grand Theft Auto (while they believed I was at school) outstripped education on every level. And in the same way that I look back and think my parents had it easier – because in the seventies you could put your needs ahead of your kids and you didn’t have parenting psycho-babble bullshit pushed in your face each day – my kids will probably say the same thing each time they dump the grandkids on me in the future and do a runner.

 

‘Yeah, remember how you hid my PS controllers as well?’ Kurt went on, obviously really bitter.

 

‘And how did that fuck you up, exactly?’

 

‘Lets just say I wasted a lot of time hunting through your cupboards, finding shit I didn’t need to find at age of eleven – if you know what I’m saying,’ he said, eyeballing me. ‘That was pretty scarring.’ I was forced to look away.

 

‘Well, that was a pre-meditated life lesson?’ I lied. ‘In a perverse way, my anxiety about you getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by the age of twenty taught you not to invade the privacy of others. How is your thumb, by the way?’

 

‘We both know that’s not why you did it, Mum,’ he said. ‘You did it to be mean. It was a power trip. But do you think any of that shit actually worked?’

 

‘Probably not,’ I said, ‘but it felt really good at the time.’

 

 

 

Motherhood, Togetherness, Warts and All

I’m not proud of the fact that I was so hung-over on Mothers Day that I was on diet soda for my celebratory lunch with my kids. 

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I could blame the friends we had lunch with the day before – a lunch that turned into dinner – although, in our defense, the whole idea of lunch was so we would be able to function the next day. And I might have got away with it if we hadn’t walked into the latest family crisis as soon as we opened the front door – a crisis that required instant love, cuddles and more wine to help us put the pieces back together.

 

It’s called being a mom. It’s not about being perfect and waiting around for the balls to drop, it’s about doing your best when the shit hits the fan. It’s about when your Mother’s Day lunch – meticulously planned by your daughter – goes pear-shaped because everyone’s tired and emotional and one child still hasn’t got over his crisis, turns up an hour late and eyeballs you with genuine hatred throughout the meal. And you feel his pain viscerally – almost as intensely as when you gave birth to him – and want to help him even if he is an adult and has hijacked the one day of the year that should rightfully be yours. Again.

 

But you also know that there is only so much you can do, and your head still hurts from those countless bottles of Rose you succumbed to the day before because kind ears wanted to listen, and although the steak pie is hot and steaming and should be a comfort, there are more mushrooms than steak and it is still not as appealing as your bed.

 

And you look at those two beings opposite you at the table that you made and remember that they are yours, and even if you aren’t that perfect family in the soap powder ads, and those pink balloons above your table are likely to burst at any minute, a rush of emotion and gratitude comes over you, because you are together, warts and all.

The 8 Best Mother’s Day Gifts

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As the excitement builds up in the commercial world for Mother’s Day, the suspense of how well my progeny will repay me for another year of self-sacrifice and doormat behaviour is almost killing me.

Actually…not so much.

FullSizeRenderBecause the thing about Mother’s Day, if you have normal kids, is there’s only the tiniest glimmer of hope you’ll actually enjoy the day if you throw away all expectation. Forget all that sentimental garbage, like how much you do for them – like men, their brains aren’t fully formed yet; they aren’t programmed to think like us or consider the benefits of giving to receive or vice versa.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that my offspring don’t love me, but I know that they won’t fully appreciate me until they have their own kids to torture them.
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Back in the day when the kids were under-twelve and still loved me unconditionally, I’d have to bite my quivering lip year after year and feign to be overjoyed at some travesty to craft where the glue still wasn’t dry that their teacher made them knock up so I didn’t give her a hard time at parents evening.

But once they reach their teens, (and in spite of the ridiculous hope that now they are adults all that stuff you taught them about gratitude, giving, appreciation of others, responsibility and love has made a connection somewhere), it’s probably best for your well-being if you try and manage your expectations.
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I know for a fact that my presents on Mother’s Day will be a bigger let-down than Spanx and sugar-free chocolate. Sure, the old man might organize a family dinner out of guilt, and even allow us dessert as it’s a special occasion, but the kids will forget about the importance of the day until 24 hours before and even though I will promise myself not to be disappointed, the hormones are frankly so over the shop at the moment, that’s unlikely.

They’ll go through the motions to get me excited and request a list of what I’d like them to buy me. They always do. And I always get all excited and provide them with the most detailed list to include the name of shop, cost, photo image, Taiwanese stamp and even reference number, so that NOTHING can possible go wrong.

But it will…

Because they will ignore it and buy me the first thing they see, or what suits their budget or heaven forbid, what THEY think I’ll like.
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God, I’ve had some stinkers over the past few years. Kurt’s ketchup gun still tops the list.

In the kids’ defence, I admit to being a fussy, cantankerous perfectionist who can’t really be pleased. And I’m not proud of this – I am middle-aged with a lifetime of disappointment behind me after all.

Which is why I don’t know why they don’t just BUY FROM THE FUCKING LIST!

So, here it is, kids, just in case you decide to do the right thing for once in your pathetic little lives to make your tired old mama super-happy and eternally grateful for having the best kids in the world:

  1. Any lingerie from Calvin Klein
  2. Anything from Peter Alexander
  3. Anything from Seed
  4. Anything from Jo Malone
  5. Jewellery – anything from Swarovsky, or Witchery if Dad’s moaning
  6. Cookery Book – Jamie Oliver, Curtis Stone or anything with recipes with less than four ingredients
  7. Flowers –LILLIES, because I like LILLIES – not half-dead fucking chrysanthemums that looked like they’ve been chewed by the dog before you gave them to me
  8. Chocolate – dark, Belgian and fully loaded with salted caramel, marzipan, cherries…

Can I ask for Chris Hemsworth again?

How Would You Score In Your Performance Review As A Mother?

What would your performance review be like as a mother?
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It seemed appropriate on Mothers Day for me to agree to a performance review done by the teens. 

 

I admit that I felt quietly confident. The hastily scribbled Mother’s Day note, the late and drooping petrol station flowers and the child who didn’t turn up until mid-afternoon on my special day had all proved that they obviously love me a lot!

 

And I know that as mothers we beat ourselves up about not doing a good job with the spawn but, ultimately, we can only do our best. Sometimes a thinking-on-your-feet approach to parenting can have benefits to our kids …like backbone development.

 

So here are my results:

 

Current Responsibilities:

 

Cook, cleaner, taxi service, counsellor, referee, dog-walker, therapist, smoothie-maker, mediator…..(shall I go on?)

 

New Responsibilities Since Last Review:

 

Drug sniffer, HSC tutor, surrogate mother to boyfriend, wannabe Masterchef to all the stragglers and travellers that come to the hostel, towel retriever, school advocate, teenage doormat.

 

Performance Assessment

 

  1. Evaluation of Your Performance – There has been some improvement in you ‘not losing the plot irrationally every time we breathe’ and the day-to-day running of the hostel. The board has noticed a laxness in certain areas of cleaning, cooking and domestic chores, though, due to your prioritisation of your personal interests, like writing and eating chocolate. The board had reached the decision that new recipes should not be attempted for the foreseeable future.

 

  1. Areas of Exceptional Performance – Your Chocolate Refrigerator cake and peanut butter smoothie, extermination of cockroaches and moths (without squealing), calling the decision on the maximum time-lapse between bed linen changes for health and safety reasons, reading English texts in appropriately stupid accents, as a secondary source of wardrobe, make-up and tampons and boyfriend/friend advice.

 

  1. Areas of Performance needing improvement – The board would like to see an acknowledgement from the employee that she is now too old to shop in surf shops now, ogle men under the age of thirty, write to Chris Hemsworth’s fan club and dance awkwardly at live music gigs.
    English: Chris Hemsworth at the 2010 San Deigo...
    English: Chris Hemsworth at the 2010 San Deigo Comic-Con International. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The washing turnaround could be improved and if the employee could make a different meal for each employer (without throwing a hissy fit) every night, the board would be appreciative. The employee should make a renewed effort to be out of her dressing gown by 10am or when the employer’s friends visit. On this point, the employee needs to understand that the employer’s friends are not the HER friends.

 

Professional Development Plan for 2014:

Expectations and Goals for Upcoming Review Period as part of your professional development:

The employee should dress appropriately for her age and her role.

The employee should stop at two glasses of wine per evening so that the highly successful 24hr taxi service can be reinstated.

The employee should walk at least ten steps behind her employer in public and if the employer sees someone they know, the employee should disappear.

The employee should know intuitively when it is the right time to leave the employer’s parties.

The employee should be aware of her employer’s policy regarding sexual harassment of young, attractive men and should stop objectifying them and feeding them up.

The employee is to finish her project of writing her book (FINALLY!) so that the employer can be cared for properly.

The use of social media in the workplace is frowned upon and should certainly not be prioritised above responsibilities to the employer.

The employee should refrain from commenting on the Facebook pages of the employer and stop reading their phone texts.

Presentation is important to the employer and the employee should present correctly and stop wearing sports clothes to the office when a) it is not dress-down Friday or b) she is not doing any sport.

 

Overall Rating: 3.5

 

Employee Comment: Meh!

 

 

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The Mothers Day Grinch

I might be mildly excited about Mother’s Day if I was getting a real treat this year – just for me – TIME OUT from my kids, say?

Does that make me bitter? A Mother’s Day Grinch?

Mothers Day Grinch
Mothers Day Grinch

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but I spend the other 364 days of the year worrying about them, so ONE day to myself would be a real treat for me.

As you know, my two aren’t cute little knee-highs still innocently and naively worshipping their Mum.

They’re big, scary teenagers, resistant to parental demonstrations of love.

And if Mother’s Day is indeed ‘a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society’, (Wikipedia), I can think of no better way for my ‘orrible teens to ‘honour’ me, than by orchestrating a day off for me.

It’s been an interesting week month at Dysfunctionality House, as you are probably aware. So it’s hard not to be a tad cynical about the circus of Mothers Day.

Mothers Day is in danger of metamorphosing into the commercial carnival of Halloween (Halloween Humbug) and Valentine’s Day and it’s getting harder to avoid being sucked into it. Tried booking lunch in a decent restaurant on Mother’s Day? Think again. There are now special Mothers day menus created especially for us, althoughI have yet to discover the perfect restaurant that serves three courses of Chardonnay, cholesterol and chocolate.

As I said, my attitude might be a little less misanthropic if Mother’s Day hadn’t fallen during this particular month.

Sometimes it’s hard for us paragons of motherhood virtue to celebrate the joys of parenting with offspring who consistently cross every parenting boundary, or your endurance for door banging, and who rip apart the fabric of the moral code you’ve spent fifteen years painstakingly trying to teach them.

Does that sound bitter?

Of course I DO realise that in the very wise words of Chris Martin, ‘no-one said it would be easy’.

But did you know that turtle and snake mothers abandon their young at birth? That fact used to sadden me in the days when I had babies, was still lactating, still believed my children to be the most beautiful things ever created and even found pride in watching them pee in the toilet as opposed to on the floor.

Female Wolf spider on sidewalk
Female Wolf spider on sidewalk (Photo credit: imarsman)

Before they reached the age of 13.

Human mothers, like us, and Wolf Spiders (go figure!), protect and nurture their young for much longer. Our kids can remain in the fold as late as their mid-twenties before we turf them out, (or are forced to buy a one-bedroom unit).

I’m beginning to understand some of the logic behind the ‘abandonment at birth’ method of ante-mothering now, although I have no doubt that Kurt will be residing in the local correctional centre before next Mother’s Day anyway.

Typically I have begun questioning my own parenting skills, like all mothers do daily occasionally. Should I have been tougher with him? Should I have said ‘no’ more?

Perhaps our generation is guilty of mollycoddling Generation Y as has been suggested.

I blame those new-wave paediatricians that told us to educate our children through love, encouragement and play; they were obviously misleading us.

Our family is lying wounded in the trenches after Kurt’s recent ventures into ‘spreading his wings’. The Urban Dictionary’s definition of a teenager as ‘someone who has everything but appreciates nothing’ is particularly apt at the moment. Not that I don’t remember that feeling – of being young, invincible, self-important and able to conquer the world single-handedly (before responsibility and empathy finally kick in).

As you know if you follow my blog, this month he has managed to violate any deep-seated hope that he is not some mass murderer in the developmental stage.

Lest I forget, I am a mother, not a saint.

And hormones obviously have a huge amount to answer for. His, and mine. Teenagers and menopause are about as compatible as oil and water. God screwed up his timing there.

Teenage angst or mental unhingement, I have yet to decide which my son is suffering from?

So back to the point of how exactly I’m expected to sit through a pleasant Mother’s Day lunch without growling threateningly at Kurt over my Prawn Cocktail? Especially after his forage into the ‘mean’ dictionary this week, where he has sourced every hurtful adjective to sling back at me.

At least I know I’m not alone. There are as many mothers of teenagers out there suffering in silence as there are mothers of toddlers revelling in mummy worship.  Feral teenagers are on trend at the moment – it’s almost becoming a contagion.

It’s a phase we have to go through on their journey to adulthood.

Admittedly retaliation was immature, I realise that now. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am the adult. I never said I was perfect mother and ‘little git’ just popped out of my mouth in the heat of the moment. To be honest, far worst adjectives were queuing up in my vocal chords in that moment of intensified frustration. But of course he hasn’t let me forget those words. Especially when that lovely advertisement for Mother’s Day comes on the radio with those angelic little children recounting the virtues of their own mothers with, ‘I love my mum because….’ – Kurt finishes it with, ‘she calls me a little git.’

‘Unconditional love’ says, that I have to love him no matter how badass he is towards me. And of course I will; wearily.

All I’m saying is that sometimes it’s brutal.

So, for just one day, I’m closing the door on good parenting, unconditional love and spreading the love on Mother’s Day. I am celebrating being a Mum, a good mother (given the respect I deserve), who will be back, fully committed to the role on Monday.

The Mother’s Day Grinch can be found in Pitt Street Mall on Mother’s Day. Her friend, ‘mother’s guilt’ has enforced that she will be watching the new Star Trek movie with aforementioned ‘ferals’ in the evening.

Mistaa Grinch by Alexa Fades Away courtesy of Flickr.com.