My eldest recently referred to me as a “bad mum”. It came about after I offered to drop them off to the local adoption agency to see if they could find the perfect family. Before you judge me for being callous there is a context. The small people in my life were having an argument over the X-box. I paused the game and gave them chance to sort it out. When a large scale war ensued I turned it off immediately after which I was bombarded with cries of “I hate my life, actually no, I hate YOU! You’re a bad mum”. But after 30 minutes of no X-box (the world may as well have ended by the look on their faces!) they made peace and so I allowed the gaming to continue.
This episode reminded me of a time when I had a huge argument with my brother; an argument that started out as sniping at each other whilst out shopping with my mum. The intensity of it increased slowly throughout the course of the morning, until by the time we were back in the car travelling home it had broken out into fisticuffs. There are only a few occasions when I have seen my mum really cross and this was one of them. She slammed on the brakes, got out of the car, opened the door, turfed us both out onto the pavement and told she’d had enough and we had to find our own way home. As mum drove off, the sudden realisation of our actions dawned on us. We trudged down the street worrying about how long it would take to walk 8 miles and if we’d remember the way; then as we rounded the corner, we saw mum waiting in her car.
At the time, a mere 8 years of age, I swore blind that I would NEVER, EVER treat my children in this way. What I didn’t realise was that it’s in the genes, well was for me, because after becoming a parent I slowly but surely morphed into my mum. Cries of “whilst you live under my roof….” or “there are starving children in Africa who’d happily eat that” and “you wait until your dad gets home” regularly slip out of my mouth (usually followed by me cringing and clamping my hand over my mouth!).
It wasn’t until I was older that I worked out that despite the arguments, the mum mottos and the draconian measures I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a good mum; one that was proud of all my achievements however small, one that picked me up when my world was collapsing around me, one that gently told me to get a grip when I veered on the side of histrionics. Sadly I lost my mum in August; after her funeral my eldest said “I didn’t want to come today; I didn’t want to say goodbye”. Neither did I and now that I don’t have her to tell me whether I’m being a good mum (or not!) I just have to hope that I will continue to emulate her.
RIP Pauline Wileman 15 September 1938 – 6th August 2015