1st November 2014
There are some things I do as a mother that I’m not proud of. But let it be known, I do feel guilty about them.
I let them dress themselves, because the results amuse me.
I turn the music up until I can’t hear them. In my defence, I only do this when they are whinging or fighting in the car. I turn it up until I can’t hear them. Then, I turn it up some more until they can’t hear each other. And sometimes even a bit more so they can’t hear themselves.
I let them listen to Triple J. I let them listen to the language warning songs and everything. Sometimes we sing along. Livya loves Matt and Alex in the morning. She was very interested in Matt’s hairy bum and we had to check it out on FaceBook one morning after I drove her to school.
I let them watch Modern Family. A lot. They know the names of all the characters. It’s how they’ve learnt about gay couples, coming out, adoption, divorce, flash mobs, ADHD, Disneyland and step-families. It may not be age-appropriate viewing but my excuse for this one is – we live in a small country town and this show brings a bit of city-living culture into their sheltered lives. They’ve adopted a few of the Modern Fam’ one-liners too. They recently asked: “Does somebody need a waaa-ambulance?” when their father was complaining about the tough day he’d had at work. And last year, when we walked into Big W and there was a life size cut out of Eric Stonestreet promising us the lowest prices – Sophie (then just 2 years old) hugged him and announced “It’s Uncle Cam.”
I make them eat dinner on the lounge room floor. At least once a week, I put a tablecloth down and call it a picnic. It’s nothing of the sort – it’s laziness. I serve up nuggets and chips with a litre of sauce. We put on a Modern Family DVD and I tell myself that we are enjoying quality time together.
I don’t listen to everything they say. This is because they never shut up. After a while I just start saying “mmm” and “mhm” and “really?” Now, before you judge me, ask yourself this – how much talk could you tolerate about unicorns?
I let them use the iPad and the iPod for hours on end. I know, I know… this is bad. The recommendation for their age group is no more than one or two hours per day. But the serenity those devices bring to my household shouldn’t be limited to a mere hour or two, surely? It’s the same as knowing you should only have a few squares of chocolate – pleasure outweighs knowledge every time.
I use glad wrap. Back in the day, when I had a life of my own and time to wash Tupperware, I was somewhat of an eco-warrior. I would wash up the black meat trays and take them to the school I work at to be used as paint palettes. Same with yoghurt pots and ice cream tubs and takeaway Chinese containers. I would always pack my lunch in re-useable containers. A roll of glad wrap could last around six months. These days, when there’s just 16 minutes until we have to be in the car and nobody’s dressed and the three-year-old is busting my balls about finishing her weet-bix, I can’t be stuffed finding the middle sized square Décor lid without the crack in it. I just use glad wrap.
I lie to them. When I’m having coffee with a friend and they tell me they’re bored, I say “We’re going soon.” When they’re begging for some ridiculous, over-priced, piece of crap, plastic toy in the middle of the shops I say “I promise I’ll get it for Christmas.” When they ask if there’s anything special for dessert I nod and give them an arrowroot biscuit.
I chuck their artwork away. I don’t even take photos of it. The system works like this: At the end of the day I pull out a mangled piece of paper/cardboard/plastic from their bag. The child who constructed it makes some vague remark about making it specially for me before skipping off to play. We stick the “artwork” on the fridge and day after day the artworks mount up until the fridge looks like it was made from papier mâchè. Eventually, I’ll go to get milk from the fridge and an avalanche of fluro paper and googly eyes and paper chains and coloured cardboard and feathers and pipe cleaners will fall at my feet. I pick the whole lot up and chuck it in the bin. That’s right – the bin. I don’t even bother sorting it into its re-usable and recyclable parts. Whenever I feel bad about it, I console myself with this thought – there will be more in their bags tomorrow.
I trick them. When the six-year-old asks me who I love the most I say it’s her. I tell her we only had the three-year-old for a spare. When the three year old asks me who I love the most I say it’s her. I tell her we weren’t happy with the six-year-old so we had to have another one.
I brainwash them. I’ve trained them to say this whenever they should thank me: “Thank you Mum, I love you Mum, you’re the best Mum in the world and I’m going to be a good teenager.”