Monday, 24 March 2014

The Seven Ages of Mam

I got to thinking recently (it's an unusual event and one that I thought deserved a post) about the life cycle and the way things change and move on as one generation passes and the next one moves up to take over.  I'm not sure what brought out this philosophical streak in me; it might have been all the recent publicity about the centenary of the First World War, it might have been the realisation that my mum is becoming more and more frail as time moves on or it might just have been my children getting arsier and more know-all with every passing day.  Perm any one from three.

Somewhere in the midst of all this unaccustomed (and frankly exhausting) mental effort, I recalled Shakespeare's monologue "All the World's a Stage" and this is where the offspring comparisons begin.  

How many years is it since my two were tiny - 'mewling and puking in the nurse's arms'?  Oh boy, I was Queen of my Kingdom (erm, sort of) back in those days.  I ruled the roost, I made the rules and I elicited unconditional love from my children.  I was the shining sun in their world.  Honest.

Me and my boy on his 1st birthday.
Lawks my hair was a lot redder in those days!

The smiliest baby ever!

Then the years flash by and we meet 'the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.'

Smiling as it was his first day at school.
Don't be fooled.  He screamed daily for
the next three weeks :(

All of a sudden, you're not quite as omnipotent as you once were. Other people's mums are "fun" and "cool" and "make brilliant cakes" and your crown begins a slow slide...
Moving on, you meet 'the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow'   Oh yes!  They discover the opposite sex.  Let joy be unconfined!  Having navigated the terrible twos you now find you are at the mercy of the terrible teens. They are heaving with hormones, mortally embarrassed by the fact that you so much as breathe and imprison themselves in their bedrooms, where they spend time cursing God for giving them the oldest/stupidest/uncoolest/most unreasonable parents in the northern hemisphere and, like it's NOT FAIR - Josh's parents let him stay out till 4am/go clubbing in London even though he's only 14/provide loads of booze for his parties/let girls stay over...WHY ARE YOU SO DUMB?  The crown has now slipped to cover your eyes, which is probably just as well as it may prevent you seeing just how little your daughter is wearing when she leaves the house.  
Gawky teen

Grumpy teen
At this stage of the game, you are subject to quiet exasperation and mild disinterest.  The crown has now descended far enough for the bloody thing to strangle you and you wonder why having children ever, ever seemed like a good idea.  When you voice this opinion, your offspring (who thanks to a tsunami of hormones have grown 3 feet taller than you overnight) smile pityingly and pat you on the head as they make for the fridge to eat planned meals one, two and three that you thought would see you through till the weekend.
   (And now Blogger has thrown the formatting out.  I hate it.)

Then the light at the end of the tunnel (and this time, it's not an oncoming train). They give the impression of turning into grownups and we meet ' The soldier...full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard...',  At this point, one of them has taken the Bard literally and sprouted a fine beard.  In fact, he was sent home from school to shave more than once.  Herself has become very aware of facial hair and spends hours plucking, waxing and generally engaging in massive deforestation efforts.  She is also mighty sensitive to the mention of hair, viz this recent conversation:-

Daughter: I can't go out looking like this! (voice rises hysterically - points to top lip).
Mother: You look fine - honestly!
Daughter I've got a MOUSTACHE!!!!  (Sobs in despair)

The situation was not helped one jot by the Shah deciding a little levity was in order and shouting "fuck me, it's Freddie Mercury!" the next time she entered the room.

Beardy Boy                                                                              
Not my daughter.

So while they are in the prime of life and, these days look like this...

 and this

The Shah and I find that we are rapidly heading downhill and 'In fair round belly with good capon lined,' (ahem - which one of us would that be, Shah?) not to mention shifting 'Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side; his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound.'  

I'll leave you with a quote from my son who gave me a kindly look recently and patted me softly on the shoulder.  "The thing is mum," he said smiling, "you're just old and mad."