I am heartily sick of the recent proliferation of articles offering advice on parenting. Generally, the writer interviews some “supermum” (how I despise that word) and there will be a photo of her running across a wild flower meadow with three or four Boden-clad children in hot pursuit. The oleaginous caption will read something like “Margarina Ffrench-Frye has three children under eight, a full time job and is studying for a PhD in The Tao of Smug. She still makes time to collect Aubergina, Vienetta and Cochineal from school and nursery every day.”
Well pardon me, but BLEURGH! Get real. Real mummies do not behave this way. Real mummies reel from one disaster to the next, hoping to God they are not doing any permanent psychological damage to themselves or their offspring en route.
Let us compare and contrast the ideal mummy and the reality. I give you the Every Silver Lining Guide to the stark authenticity of being a mummy...
THE REAL MUMMY RULES
SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
Ideal Mummy: Sets aside fifteen minutes each and every day to examine her behaviour and think of more ways she can provide a positive role model for her children. She always stops and thinks before responding to her children so that she never says anything negative or demotivating.
Real Mummy: Would love to be able to set aside 15 minutes per day just to breathe. Instead, she hurtles through the door at 6pm after the day from hell and screams at everyone. When her children whine about their hunger, she is likely to reply “Can’t you even manage to sling a pizza in the oven?”
Ideal Mummy: You shout and your child shouts back! Ideal Mummy Increases her chances of staying calm by lowering her voice instead of shouting, counting to ten to give everyone breathing space and making time for relaxation so that tension dissipates naturally.
Real Mummy: Are you having a larf? I shout, therefore I am.
BOOST YOUR CHILD’S CONFIDENCE
Ideal Mummy: Praises her child at every opportunity. Like the idiot savant I observed in our local park last week shrieking “Great sliding darling!” as their brat shot off the end of the slide and landed on its backside in a puddle of mud.
Real Mummy: Observes teenager attempting to feed itself by removing a pizza from the box and sliding it into the oven. Is heard to remark “take the wrapping off first, you pillock!” (In a warm and maternal way, of course).
BE A MUMMY MOTIVATOR!
Ideal Mummy: Has the kind of children who leap from their beds every morning of the holidays, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for the day’s activities with their equally enthusiastic mummy. All pursuits are carefully thought out so as to achieve a balance of physical and mental stimulation, interspersed with nutritionally balanced meals and well timed, healthy snacks.
Real Mummy: Staggers downstairs in the morning, dishevelled and hungover, cursing the concept of school holidays. Children stumble along some time later. Children lie on sofa for some hours gazing blankly at a screen whilst moving only their thumbs. A little bit of drool gathers at the corners of their mouths. Eventually are driven by hunger to find their mother who offers them twenty quid to go away.
INCREASE YOUR CHILD'S VOCABULARY
Ideal Mummy: Plays French language tapes to her embryo while she is pregnant and enrols little Augusta for Esperanto classes within a week of her birth.
Real Mummy: Shouts "Fuck" at an inopportune moment and knows, with a sick feeling, that it will be the one word her toddler will instantly commit to memory and sure enough, he or she chants it loudly, over and over again just as Daddy arrives home. Happily, the toddler seems to forget it pretty quickly but has magical recall just in time for the next visit of the mother in law.
MAKE ME TIME
Ideal Mummy: Takes good care of herself so that she can take good care of others. She makes time for relaxation and those little treats that Mummies love – a massage, a pedicure, for example.
Real Mummy: Thinks massages are a waste of time because she is so exhausted, she falls asleep as soon as she is horizontal, and is thus unaware of the benefits of any bloody massage. With no time for manicures or pedicures, she has feet of elephant hide and the hands of a navvy.
PURSUE A FULFILLING CAREER
Ideal Mummy: Firmly believes in lifelong learning and is always alert to new avenues for self improvement.
Real Mummy: Utilises her Science ‘O’ Level to design a Portable Intravenous Gin Infusion Kit (Patent Pending).