Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Mother Love

I fear sometimes that I do not love my children correctly. When they are asleep I am suffused with maternal longing. When they are at school the house is incomplete. But often, when they are clamorously with me, I endure rather than adore them.

Bickering over who gets to sail the seas in the laundry basket; amnesia over basic vowel sounds in school reading books; rejection of anything green or vegetal in my nourishing dinner-time gloops, and a mysterious inability to flush the lavatory, subdue my proper sentiments. Half an hour after their school coats are flung across the hall floor, I skulk in the spare room craving their absence.

This cannot be right. Other bloggers write paeans to their babies, love leaking from every line. When, in motorway jams, I ponder solemn tributes to my own pair, flying foodstuffs kill off my inner poetry. It worries me. I would bore through a volcano for my children. I would brave a burning house and ride a tsunami if it spared them pain.

But the daily grind does not allow for heroic ardour. Or does it? Yesterday, to please my twosome, I sat through 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' in a deserted multiplex while 'The Artist' was screened tantalisingly in an adjoining auditorium. And it struck me that mother-love might not be spectacular. It might not even be smiling and sweet-natured. But it is heroically there each time we surrender glamour and excitement for the fulfilment of our young.

True mother love, I begin to realise, is:

Crouching behind the ironing board in the understairs cupboard during hide-and-seek.

Saturday afternoons wedged between Hello Kitty tote bags and leopard- print nail extensions in Claire's Accessories.

Keeping the eight times table stashed down a bra strap so you can be one step ahead of your 9-year-old.

Offering tireless nocturnal counselling when Emma Watson fails to reply to her fanmail.

Picking every tomato chunk off a pizza Margherita.

Painstakingly adjusting furnishings and lighting to eliminate all monster-shaped shadows from bedroom walls.

Shaving off your winter pelt for a frigid half hour of 'Fun Day' in the local swimming pool.

Surrendering a Malteser from your Christmas box.

Marching through motorway service stations bearing a beach bucket brimming with vomit to the loos.

Handpicking dolls house crockery from the matted filth in the Hoover bag

Anointing sinister itches in unwholesome places during the night hours.

Carrying sodden tissues/licked sweet wrappers/regurgitated hair bobbles in your coat pocket until you remember to notice a bin.

Playing houses inside a cardboard box from Amazon.

Being open all hours for a cuddle, even when it breaches the sanctity of your evening Beer Moment; even when 'Call the Midwife' is just starting; even when, cradling your sobbing small one, you can feel spreading damp across your new Boden cashmere.

Battling anguished imaginings when a school expedition returns late, when they climb skywards up a tall tree, when they erupt in purple rashes, that something will one day happen to them. Because the inevitable companion of mother-love is dread - of a world that would be unendurable without them. 



You parents are all heroes. You just might not fully realise it. But feel free to boast of your sacrifices here so we can all admire each other.

PS Unhappily the Chipmunks survived the shipwreck. So they'll be interminably back!

44 comments:

  1. Fabulous!!
    Completely with you - you frog march them to school and practically throw them in after suffering a breakfast-time full of petty squabbling. By 11am you miss them & get a little excited when 3.15 arrives. By 3.25 I am wondering whether boarding school might be a great idea!

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    1. But you manage ten minutes before that happens. Today I didn't even get out of the school gate before warfare began over a Haribo.

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  2. Brilliant! I currently show my love by daily wading through Lego pieces and not minding about the baby-vomit brooch I am usually wearing - more often than not, unknowingly.

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    1. Baby-vomit brooch! What a superb way of putting it. It was always epaulettes with me.

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  3. It would have killed you to put SPOILER ALERT at the top? No point seeing the Chipmunk film now...

    The beauty of truthful blogging is right here in this post. Some blogging parents may varnish their lives, but the best ones, the ones I read, give it warts, veruccas and all.

    It's great to read about the highs but comforting to be able to empathise with the lows, to know you're not isolated in your experiences or emotions. You can read all the parenting books in the world, but for unexpurgated reality, this is where it's at.

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  4. Actually, it was your retweet of and comment on a blogger's outpouring of birthday love for her baby that made me probe my own maternal instincts.

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  5. Absolutely fantastic post. It's not just Mother Love, you know. Housedad Love, too. Sexist! I am currently listening to a tortured rendition of Frere Jacques on the guitar by my seven year-old, while nodding as my four year-old draws a squiggly line which he insists is a 5 (it's not, it's a rubbish worm), while typing this reply to you. It is good to know one is never alone in one's turgid misery (even if we wouldn't change it for the world!)

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    1. You dads were haunting me as I wrote this. But Mother and Father love doesn't hsve quite the rhythmic ring to it!

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  6. Thank you reluctant housed dad for tweeting this link!
    Fantastic blog post! I am the same, I crave going back to work after a weekend of activities then spend all week longing for the next weekend when we can spend uninterrupted time together.

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    1. Thank Heavens I am not alone. Mothers in the flesh never admit to such base instincts. Feared it was just me!

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  7. So I'm not alone then as I sit here after feeding time with my 10 and 15 year old where usually one pulls their face at what you are serving! One is on the computer playing music whilst the other is saying 'shut up I'm trying to watch a movie on iPod' 'use headphones' I hear, to which the reply is 'I would if you hadn't nicked them'!

    I will go and wash up!! And see if anyone puts them away!

    I too would still cross a burning room forever for them :)


    Di x

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    1. Slipped away from my kids feeding time for some quiet sense with the laptop and saw your comment! My son's heaving over his mince because it has a chopped spinach leaf in it. I'm sorry to discover that things get no easier!

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  8. Loved this post! I'll be back.

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the trouble to comment. I'd love you to come back!

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  9. Right on AgeingMatron. It's 98% exhausting, repetitive, often thankless, brain numbing, emotionally draining, head hurtingly hard work and 2% parental ecstasy where I think my heart might burst right out of my chest.

    But I'll take that 98% as I'm hooked on the parenting crack that is the 2% with the occasional "love you mum" and fierce hug on the side.

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    1. Super way of putting it. I'll remember that 2% when I go back downstairs and brave the supper-time caterwauling.

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  10. Mine chipped my favourite mug last week. Father-love severely strained: my first reaction was to think of which toy I could smash in return. But am about to play Junior Monopoly, so I suppose I must love her really.

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    1. I think to be able to play a board game with her only a week after such a calamity shows Hollywoodian heroics!

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  11. Never eating a meal hot right through from beginning to end.

    That stops as the kids get older, mind, but for me, it has stuck in my mind as one of the major heroics of mother/fatherhood.

    Lovely post, MAM. I love my kids to distraction, but they also drive me to distraction and I'm frankly delighted they are now more independent at 15 and 10. Full-time clamouring was hard to bear.

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    1. It's the bickering, isn't it. Relentless and exhausting.

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  12. What an amazingly heartfelt post. I really enjoyed this,it's true I love Snoo & will shout it from the rooftops but so many days I'm just counting the seconds till bedtime!

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    1. And when they're grown and flown we'll weep over the memory of their constant presence!

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  13. "Keeping the eight times table stashed down a bra strap..." What a great place to keep the times table, I wish I had thought of that way back when.

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  14. I needed to read this tonight. So true. By the way, I'm glad F is not yet at times tables. I'd need more than the eight times table stashed down a bra. I'd end up using my pants and both socks as handy maths helpers.

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  15. Loved this. My sacrifice was going to pick up a Saturday night Waggamama take-away and standing there waiting for my paper bag full of disaapointing food and thinking how lovely it was that I could smell my daughter's 'baby smell'. It was only after getting a bit misty-eyed that I looked down and found that she'd gagged on my chest and it was her sick I could smell. What could I do? Run or wait nonchalantly while the staff gave me a very large swerve? Hey, I'd paid for my food...

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    1. The only comfort you can derive from your sad experience is that it really made me laugh. So consoling for we mothers to be unglamorous en masse!

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  16. What a lovely post, know the feeling so well.

    Mine have all grown up now but I still look at them and get overwhelming feelings of love for them.

    You will never grow out of being a parent even when they have gown up and have their own families, they will always be your children.

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    1. That's both wonderful and daunting. My mother still rings to check I've had my five-a-day!

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  17. Great post. And lots of lovely validating comments to make us all feel better. I too find myself adoring my child from 'afar'... and counting the seconds until bedtime. We are all heroes, and nose wipers, and bottom swipers, entertainers, cooks, cleaners, nurses and general orchestrators of the minutiae of our children's lives. This is undoubtedly love.

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    1. Hear, hear! And of course, you and I bear that extra burden of incessant housework!

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  18. I totally emphathise with you - I do wonder where the day to day capacity of my heart goes under all the laundry and toy tidying. We play hunt my daughter over and over again; she hides under the kitchen table while I go looking for her in the oven and washing machine. I loose track of how many times I have said 'last time'. Thank you for making me feel like a superhero. Lovely post (as usual).

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    1. We middle-aged mothers are extra heroic, of course, because we have our rickety joints to contend with!

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  19. Marvelous post- so true and honest. I feel exactly the same- when you're in the midst of the madness it's difficult to crave anything other than peace! One of personal triumphs was finding my daughter crawling with headlice on Christmas bloody Day and spending the entire day fine combing, then treating all family members. Good times....

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  20. My mother-love does not stretch as far as lice. I never do the weekly comb-out you're supposed to do and if they complain of itchy heads I fall back on the remedy I use for most unpalatable problems - close my eyes and hope it goes away. Usually works.

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  21. Oh, another lovely post. And so very true on all counts...

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  22. Great post that I can fully relate too!

    I have tagged you over at bambinosandbumps.blogspot.com if you have the time to join in pop over and have a nosy. x

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  23. loved your blog so refreshing ...we never stop being mums !

    I do homework, play football, walk across the fields, tea and biscuits at 6am on a sunday , picking up dropping off..............this is for the grandkids....so for my daughter i say Im not busy when I was just off to the pub to share a bottle ( or 2 ) of red after a hard week at the office !!

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    1. Heavens, I was hoping grandmotherhood would be relaxing!

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  24. Love this. Oh yes the bucket full of sick. xx

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  25. Brilliant! My mum used to call herself 'the walking dustbin' and now I see why, Ben always hands me his rubbish as if it's a gift! Rx

    http://sandersonsmithstory.blogspot.com/

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