Sunday, 27 March 2011

29. The Swear Box

I dressed Magpie and the Tank in haste this morning.  We were going out for brunch (to accommodate my and my host's respective toddler routines) and what with the clocks going forward, we lost out on an hour of precious 'fannying around' time (shove girls in cots while I watch the news and microwave my cold coffee for the 10th time).  So we had to speed up the dressing process and the Tank wasn't having it.  Her 21 month-old version of 'not having it' was telling me and Big Daddy what wonderful words she had learnt this week.
Before I ruin my own story, I need to tell you something.  I bought a Swear Box at our local FaraKids (without which I could not live - that's Fara, not the Swear Box).  But today's post isn't about Fara.  I'll save that one for another day.  No, it's about swearing.  Mine, in particular.  Now being the mother of my children, I'm acutely aware of the need (especially other people's need) not to swear in front of them at the crucial 'sponge' phase (the phase from 2-3 years old approx when children are learning to speak and will repeat any old garbage that comes out of your mouth without you realising).

Big Daddy is slowly replacing the F-word with the Fff-ing word; Ga, the girls' grandmother is learing to say 'naughty' girl instead of 'horrid' girl,  and I am learing to say 'hello' to people on the phone insteady of 'hiya' which the girls have copied, and played back to me, so to speak, when I had NO IDEA that such hideousness ever came out of my mouth.  So no, as far as I was aware, I didn't swear in front of them...I just whined down the phone and appalled myself with my own naff use of language.

But back to the joys of dressing the Tank.  As I did up each button on her funky Baby Gap brown corduroy shirt dress, she said:

'Oh my God.'

I did up another button just to check I hadn't heard wrong.  She twisted and turned to show her disapproval at my trying to dress her.'
(Translation - this just isn't going my way.  Oh, want are you doing?  No!  I soooo don't want to get dressed).

The Tank (right) wearing the offending corduroy shirt dress that made her language a little colourful
Big Daddy grinned.  My holier-than-thou ethos with the Swear Box and the 20p fines and the enforcement of my Language-in-front-of-toddlers Rule had just been thrown back in my face.

All I can say, is OMG.  Must do better.

28. Silent Sunday

Sunday, 13 March 2011

26. A Mother or Somebody who happens to have Children?

Extra Curricular activities in the 70s & 80s: if you couldn't be bothered to take your daughter to Brownies, were you a bad mother?
I read unpublished novels and film scripts for a living.  At least that's what I do with two under two at home.  It's very enjoyable, but time-consuming and not exactly as lucrative as I would hope.  I need to find some extra 'from home' income, preferably that utilises my writing and editing skills.  Answers on a postcard please!   But I digress.  I read an incredible manuscript recently by an up-and-coming American writer (his second novel has already been optioned and is being made into a film with a starry cast), but in the name of professional discretion, I cannot name either the book or the writer.  However, the mother of the novel's narrator made a fascinating point, something that I have been ruminating on all week.  She said some women are mothers, while others happen to have children.

It made me wonder, if being a mother (by that of course I mean  a 'good' mother) depends on doing most of it yourself?  Or can you be a good mother if you have loads of childcare, and immunise yourself from the mundanity of certain aspects of mothering (dressing, feeding and bathing are the three things that occasionally I could really do without, but maybe that's because I've got terrible-two-ish twins)?

Fragonard's The Good Mother
I remember my father saying to me 'your mother is so loving, please don't be rude to her.'  My mother is a complex woman, but that's beside the point.  My point is she was most definitely immunised from a lot of the nitty-gritty of mothering.  She was a SAHM but had a full-time au pair from my birth until my sister (seven years younger) was about twelve.  We barely ever went on our summer holidays (always to Italy) without an au pair accompanying us. 

There is no doubt that my mother loves me and my sister to bits, but during our upbringing it was a love that had defined limits.  For example, she wouldn't let me or my sister be a Brownie because she didn't want the commitment of taking us (I was allowed to do tap dance classes as the venue was only five minutes from home).  I don't mean to be mean - my mother did the best she could and is now a doting and very capable grandmother to three grandchildren - but perhaps I envy her prosperity that I think she took for granted? 

If I could afford more help, would I take it?  Most probably.  But because I can't, I realise that one of the greatest virtues of a mother is patience.  And would I have learnt the same degree of patience if I hadn't needed to?  Probably not.  And that surely is a good thing?