There comes a weekend in every mother’s life when we have to put on bad music, trample on the walk on wardrobe AKA floor-drobe, cough our way through crusty bits of rubbish and throw out the last remaining bits and bobs of our offsprings’ childhood. That weekend has come for me. There will be no more Hello Kitty pencils, no more craft that comes home saying I luv u mummmy and no more genuine joy at seeing me at the school gate.
I am emptying the unfinished projects into the bin and opening old One Direction pencil cases and finding handwritten notes from their friends. These painstakingly produced jottings were all written at the age when my kids were discovering the magic of writing a heartfelt letter to a beautiful new friend:
Dear Senny, I thik youre really specil and I reallly lik your shoos. I had funn wen we went to the pak and i now we wil be freinds forever. lov you
I’ve been a single mum for 10 years, so there are many jobs in my house that are being tackled well past their use by date. Despite our multiple moves, some special stuff was placed in boxes and carted from new address to new address. The perfectly unused birthday present textas from the seven-year old’s best friend in the hole world that were saved in the back of the cupboard for special occasions have been dug out, the lolly wrappers that she didn’t want mummy to see, beside the half-dressed dolls with real nail polish on their hands. I put together a box of nostalgia, thinking that my last teenager would be remotely interested in the lost cuteness and innocence of her childhood. She came home from a day out at the hideous local shopping trauma centre and said,
“That’s my stuff, what are you doing?”
“We need to chuck out.”
“No, I’m too busy.”
A few short weeks ago she sobbed because the Easter Bunny hadn’t left her an elaborate trail of eggs in our shared yard on Easter Sunday. But now she’s watching make up tutorials on how to copy the subtle facial contouring of the Kardashians on Youtube. She actually wants to look like a Jenner. I’ve failed as a mother. What the hell will I keep from this phase?
My senior school kid has been back at her girls’ prison camp for a few weeks and I’m already suffering. One day I had a beautiful child, the next the HSC devil dragged her away and left a lovely ‘personality’ in her place. Part way through Term 1 the pressure of big exams is already driving me crackers, so I’m starting a therapy group for mothers of HSC students.
Hello I’m Lou and I’m going through HSC stress. Symptoms include cranky cat’s bum face, lethargic dinner making, chocolate eating, bitching and moaning during over long phone calls with other mothers, slovenly housekeeping, delusions and fantasies about holidays.
My week looked like this:
Revolting moody child, homework piled up.
Revolting moody mother, work emails 30% finished
Coffee drinking, insomniac mother reading celebrity crap on internet until small hours
Under eating daughter
Over eating mother
Beautiful sunny child woman (weekends only). Highlight of week: 85% for essay mother helped with despite the tears. Mother calm.
Sunday nights at 5.30pm
Tearful tantrum throwing mother, only 61 pages of homework to finish.
I’ve had to call the chardonnay support group hotline three or four times this week.
When I tell my mother about my worries, she laughs and lets me know that the karma fairy has caught up with me. In the past fortnight I’ve finished a legal studies essay, written a piece on Warhol’s contribution to the art world and discussed the origins of World War 1 all while indulging her taste for exotic foods like feta cheese and olives. I’m up late every night doing all the study I should have done for my HSC back in the dark days of the 1980s. I hope I get a good mark this time.
“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart it don’t mean a thing.” Toni Morrison