My children have not turned out how I intended. Yes, I read all the books. I nodded along to features on perfect parenting and honed my prejudices against mothers who fell short of my ideals. Yet things went awry within weeks of my eldest's birth and it's been downhill all the way since then. I'd resolved, you see, on rearing children who:
Owned only three toys, all of hand-crafted wood, plus a single teddy bear.
Ate the green twirly things excavated from my garden with gratitude and with cutlery.
Begged the Hoover off me to fine-tune their bedrooms.
Thought an iPod was a hybrid vegetable.
Turned their private desks into a homework hub.
Greeted the Sunday faithful with smiling enquiries after their health.
Instead, my children:
Single-handedly turned Fisher-Price into a global empire and would sink Noah's Ark with their menagerie of stuffed animals.
Eat only fish-fingers and chipolatas - with their fingers.
Beg a step ladder off me to surmount the impenetrable chaos of their bedrooms.
Devise secret pockets in their pyjamas so they can sleep with their iPods.
Turn their private desks into a make-up counter/racing circuit.
Drag me off mid-conversation with the verger.
But - now I come to think of it, I haven't turned out how I intended. I'd resolved, you see, on being a mother who:
Baked cakes every Saturday with my babies.
Served up home-cooked gourmet dinners after school.
Allowed the living room be turned into a pirate ship.
Deflected unsuitable behaviour with gentle pointers.
Sewed their school uniforms from organic cotton.
Was always ready with a cuddle and a Jammy Dodger (home-made).
Plant my babies every Saturday with their iPods while I blog.
Scratch factory proteins from the freezer floor at dinner times.
Flinch over a displaced cushion in the living room.
Crush unsuitable behaviour with baleful threats.
Am called in mid-winter by the school because they've been sent in without coats.
Call out absent-minded endearments while hunched over Twitter with a Digestive (Tesco Value).
Briefly these realisations trouble me. Would I have become the Perfect Parent if my children had been more biddable - or would my children have become more biddable if I had been the Perfect Parent? Then the remedy strikes me. I fling away all those books and line the cat litter tay with the articles on perfect parenting. I gain comfort from all those other mothers who fall short of my ideals and I reach a new resolution: my kids and I are healthy, contented and lice-free and for as long as this happy situation lasts I'll allow us all to do what comes naturally. I wonder, though, how much used iPods would fetch on eBay?
Have you and your children turned out the way you intended?