Sunday, 15 September 2013

Monster Mother

'You deserve a sock in your eye because you're so HORRIBLE!' screams the 10-year old, dislodging my contact lens with well-aimed footwear.

I have never had any delusions about my character. 'Mediocre' wrote my history teacher. 'Lunatic' says my brother. But it takes offspring to divulge the full extent of ones defects.

I never realised the depths of my egotism until my daughter pointed out the damage wholemeal bread and the mile-long walk to school is doing to her sense of Being. 'You are totally selfish!' she says.
I never understood my callousness until my son blamed me for the pooches with killer eyes that cross his path on Sunday strolls. 'You are evil!' he shrieks.
And my horribleness had not hit home until Sunday lunch when I deferred permission for the 10-year-old to browse body art on my laptop while we finished our sausages.

I extract sock fibres from my left eyeball and reflect on motherhood. Storybooks tell of serene, selfless, irresistible women whose children kneel lovingly at their side to recite their bedtime prayers. My manual on raising girls invites readers to imagine their daughters as adults radiant with graces instilled by their mother's fine example. The reality is that motherhood has turned me into a monster.

I am a despot because I extinguish my twosome with 8.30pm bedtimes and hold vindictive views on iPhones and body piercings.
I am a thief because I spirit cherished T-shirts to the washing machine and a torturer because I enforce peas.
Most unforgivable of all I am an embarrassment because I wear floor-length waterproofing in rain storms and have never patronised Dominos Pizza.

This revelation of my true nature is dismaying, but I hadn't reckoned on the forgiving nature of children. There is a scream as the 10-year-old spills UHU on her new leggings and I rise instantly to the occasion. Without thought for my own sanity I brave the stormy weeping and seize the injured garment. And with endurance that awes me I assault the stain with improvised nail polish remover.

The 10-year-old, studying her almost-restored treasure, embraces this hint of my redemption:
'The best thing about mums,' she muses, 'is that they can always make things better.'

Has motherhood ruined your character?






35 comments:

  1. A long time ago, but it comes back, when the kids are older (24, 21, 19) and realize all those things made us good moms.

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    1. I think the 10you realises I have redeeming features every night when she frets over the next school day and needs cuddling.

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  2. Parents can never win in their children's eyes. But I think we're the first generation who let our children abuse us so roundly, and assume it's our fault. So much for Childline. There should be Parentline.

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    1. I'd have the number on speed dial! To be fair to the 10yo I should point out she came to apologise very fervently soon after the sock warfare and never did get use of said laptop.

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  3. ......and there there is my redoubtable mother. On arriving recently for a week's visit at my 51yr old sister's home she presented her with a thoughtfully considered gift. Not flowers or chocolates, but a packet of dusters, accompanied by some tart comment about her lack of housewifely skills!

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  4. I fear my three year old has already started to realise Mummy and Daddy are not perfect; he has started shouting "I don't care!" when we threaten to remove privileges for not doing as requested.

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    1. I think they secretly have more respect for us for setting boundaries and sticking to them, even if they do condemn us for it. My daughter, while railing against my intransigence, is highly critical of parents she deems not strict enough.

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  5. Hmm I recognise a few of the characters in this story... Are you quite sure you haven't been spying?

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    1. It's my monstrous self you recognise, cos we did meet each other once long ago...

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  6. Absolutely! I appear to spend the entire time nagging, I am a total spoil-sport and of course.....utterly selfish. I am also trying to do the very best I can at bring up 3 children who are not behaving like spoilt brats all the time. It's hard work!

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  7. Of course we're imperfect, then our kids will have something to complain about. We had an only child and she once told me that I liked the cat better than I liked her. Sibling/feline rivalry.

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    1. Don't say this to anyone else, but cats can sometimes seem more lovable!

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  8. Ah at least she knows which side her bread's buttered - even if it is wholemeal ;)

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    1. I'll tweet you when I can think of a witty response!

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  9. I am a total witch. I disallow jumping on the bed at bedtime and don't permit my 3yo to wear clippy cloppy princess shoes out of the house. Not as bad as you though...

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    1. Oh, much better thanks for asking. And by better you can take me to mean much much worse.

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  10. In so many ways - it ruined my figure too!

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  11. Even before I was a Mum I was paranoid, psychotic about cleanliness and obsessed with good manners.

    It's only now that my toddler says (for the umpteenth time that day) "Mummy stop shouting" that I realise I am nothing short of a harridan.

    There is no hope for me is there ?

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    1. I never realised there were so many of us out there!

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  12. It's all about the children pushing the boundaries to see how far they can stretch. Both your children are lovely and a credit to you in public so you are definately doing something right. Keep up the good work. I'm sure 10yr old was really sorry about the sock incident.

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    1. You are kind! She was indeed sorry for socking me - especially when she realised she was banned from the computer!

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  13. When I'm mummy monster, I'm met with 'go away mummy' 'you're annoying me' . Splendid post. X

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  14. I think they do bring out the worst of us - the sheer exasperation of so many things - ironically, whilst they're bringing out the best!

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  15. Apparently most days I'm an idiot; so says the 14 year old!

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    1. It's sobering how it takes youth to expose our true nature!

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  16. I really needed to read this today because I needed to hear that children who aren’t adopted are like this as well! My 5 year old daughter stormed off a few days ago yelling angrily “You people are just weird!” and this was after she had thrown her toothbrush at me because I pointed out she needed to clean near her wobbly tooth and offered to help! Thank you for writing this and showing that I’m not the only monster mother and to be honest I rather like being weird!

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    1. All these challenges must be so much harder when adoption is involved, because I imagine you can never be sure what are normal reactions and what is due to identity/attachment issues. Your daughter sounds like many five year olds I know. Weirdness can be thoroughly enjoyable and you are in the tiny minority of people who can spell it right!

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  17. I am not looking forward to this, think I'll make the most of my cuddly 2 year old who wants to sit with me at meal times and give me kisses :)

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    1. My daughter turned 11 today and I was heartily nostalgic for toddlerdom, but this age has its compensations and there is sweetness underneath (just well buried sometimes!)

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