It seems to me that motherhood is the most contradictory ‘job’ in the universe, it is characterised by opposites and extremes. Using my extensive knowledge of mothers, I both have one and am one, I would like to share my observations with you.
Mothers and motherhood is often referred to in the most sentimental terms. Look at the swirly italic pontifications covering the Mothers Day cards in Tesco or the quotes people share on Facebook You are the most wonderful, beautiful and extra special mummy in the whole wide world etc. Yet for all these feelings being a mother is still routinely treated by society at large as a none job, an easy life, a waste of a woman’s talents. Whether you stay at home, work full or part time there will always be people who view you as no longer having anything relevant to say or do. When my children tell me I am the most fabulous mummy ever and they love me from the bottom of their tiny hearts, I always remind them that becoming their mother has rendered me invisible and irrelevant in the eyes of the patriarchy. After I’ve said thank you obviously, I’m not a monster.
A mothers love is often referred to as being unconditional, which it is, it just so happens to come with many conditions. It seems that while mothers will love you for ever and ever and just want you to be happy, they will also have a list of expectations for you to fulfill. Even these expectations will change over time. My mum went from telling me in no uncertain terms not to get myself pregnant, to asking wistfully if I was ever going to make her a grandmother. To be fair she was saying the former when I was 15 and the latter when I was 24 but still… Other people have been told ‘I just want you to be happy and it is up to you how you live your life. But you have to finish your A-Levels, get into a good university, qualify as a Doctor, get married, have 2 children (1 will be a terribly spoilt brute and 3 looks unsightly in photographs). Oh and you will of course look after your father and I in old age…..’
Bringing up children requires a strict and regimented approach covering everything from what they eat (no fruit shoots or fast food ever, organic always) to how they spend their time (Mandarin lessons, ballet, additional maths and a religious conversion are a must if you want to get into the right school) to how much TV they can watch (none. Ever.) On the other hand you also need to let children be children, let them explore and be messy, put them on the pill at 14 and share their first joint with them. Because, you’re not, you know, like your straight-laced mum was with you.
You will treasure every tiny bit of your child’s life, you will keep a lock of their hair, the first tooth they lost and anything else that drops off or out of them and store them in adorable little boxes you got at your baby shower. However if you try to do this to human beings that didn’t fall out of your womb this behaviour is considered somehow wrong and dare I say creepy. Let’s not even talk about the volume of art you must preserve in pristine condition.
Mothers should know everything about their children, everything. If you so much as pause when asked their favourite colour or shoe width, you will have shown yourself to be less than totally committed to mothering. However knowing when your baby last had their bowels open when they don’t even live in the same city as you anymore (why would that be?) is seen as just plain wrong too.
So, in summary to be a proper mother you must:
- Be prepared to be the most important and ignored person both in your family and society at large.
- Love unconditionally whilst setting continual hoops for your offspring to jump through so they can prove they appreciate being loved unconditionally.
- Treasure everything your precious darling discards until your house is filled with boxes of memories, in any other context this will put your right up there with the guy from Silence of the Lambs.
- Stalk your children so you know everything about them before they do but do not enquire about state of their colon on facebook.