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Sep 4

The Sanity Grant

Posted on Friday, September 4, 2009 in Family, Jobs, Rantings, Something to think about

I brought Puppychild for a playdate today, to the house of a domestic Goddess.  This is a woman who has three children, all under the age of five, and another mouth on the way.  She bakes scones and muffins every other day, makes marshmallow surprises for an entire classfull of children with no excuse needed at all, and organizes extravagant parties and picnics for enormous groups of parents and children at the slightest hint of a sunny day.  She even brought a batch of strawberry double-chocolate cookies to my hen-party which was bizarre, but much appreciated!

Today she was baking chocolate mousse-ish things with meringue and treacle strands, brandy was involved somehow with the prospect of blow-torch action later on, all for an impending dinner party she was hosting.  They looked delicious, but different to the photograph in the recipe, and this mattered to her, no matter what I said.  Three children (plus my own anklebiter) were fighting in the background and a sickening THUMP could be heard followed by inevitable wails from the smallest child, who came runnning into the kitchen, covered in Toilet-Duck goo.

A war ensued, involving a chocolate covered mother (don’t go there, Maxi!) and a four-year-old who refused to relinquish the bottle of highly toxic toilet bleach.  The war ended with a slap… a swift slap across the back of the kid’s head which ended the fight, but destroyed the Goddess.  She crumbled and covered her head with inner turmoil – “I did it again!!  I’m such a terrible mother!”  She was utterly ashamed that I had witnessed the act.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard those words, sure I’ve said them myself.  As a wise friend once said to me… ‘it’s far easier to punish yourself than to recognise the good things you do.’  How true.  Okay so in this instance, the mother would have been better off removing herself from the situation, or just not allowing her stress levels to get so high, maybe hosting dinner parties isn’t such a good idea when you have so many dependants constantly vying for her attention, but she’s entitled to a life, and leaving a room crawling with small kids and a bottle of bleach isn’t such an ingenius thing to do.  Either way, in years to come, her kids won’t remember that slap, they’ll remember coming home from school to batches of fresh-baked biscuits every day.  She is an excellent mother, and I told her so.

This Goddess wouldn’t listen.  She wanted to punish herself and cringed at the bad example she was giving.  Everything was her fault.

Nothing is her fault.  Society is at fault for segregating her from female peers.  Irish women covet what they have and compare social status, they don’t reach out to hug and help.  Irish mothers are teeny islands all on their own, all forced to keep a brave face and shut the fuck up.

I’ve seen this too many times, all of us torturing ourselves silently because we have rare occasions when we can’t cope and we lash out at the child, or the dog, or the plate-cupboard.  We turn to booze, to drugs, to self-harm, because we feel unworthy of our children, of our lives.  National Geographic shows tiger mothers showing no regret at biting her cubs because they pissed her off by crawling on her while she’s trying to nap, why should we?

Domestic violence is entirely different, I feel I should probably stick this in here.  There is no way any of us could ever condone the sickness that is child-abuse, but child-abuse is NOT the same as a temporary lapse in sanity.  Abuse is constant. Deliberate.  A show of contempt towards those who are weaker… repeated beatings in moments of clarity.  A smack caused by an incessantly whingey child plus a barking dog plus a spilled canister of sugar is simply natural cause-and-effect.  Even a Saint’s patience only reaches so far.

I seriously wish there was a law that provides a grant for mothers, and otherwise un-kiddified women to compulsively meet up at least once a week outside the home environment for a jar or two with other women… to unwind, to advise, to complain, to share grievances and short-comings, to praise each other on the fact that their kids are still alive at all.

But, there isn’t.  Everywhere there are closed doors with apparently perfect women inside with apparently perfect children.  These apparently perfect people scream for help all the time, but they scream into pillows and get bad advice from lonesome google searches.

This needs to change… there needs to be an emphasis on the fact that a child’s health depends on that of its mother’s.  The hand that rocks the cradle is not powered with batteries, but with reassurance, of which there is an enormous shortage.  THAT, if you ask me, is what’s wrong with the world today.

Bring on the comments

  1. holemaster says:

    The odd smack when a kid is out of order is not a bad thing as long as it’s delivered quickly and the kid knows full well why they got it. I don’t know why parents give themselves a hard time over it. It can lead to a spanking fetish though when they’re older. Apparently.

  2. What a great post, with such truth. I got smacked quite a lot as a kid–none of it did lasting harm, and usually I’d deserved it. And I knew I’d deserved it. One day I walked into the kitchen with my grandmother’s handprint on my face, and my mother eyed me and said, “What did you do?”

    Some people might find it debatable, but *I* think I grew up ok. LOL

    And YES, mothers need a support system—and yes, Irish women don’t seem to come by that naturally. I was a bit amazed this summer in America, the neighbour women were often dropping in, and talked about everything/anything. It did me a lot of good.

    Well, usually. ROFL

  3. Baino says:

    I found when mine were toddlers that Playgroup provided that kind of support. Sadly I went to work when the kids hit school but I know many of the playgroup mums kept in touch long after that. Why don’t you start one. OK the kids are around but you just let them go ballistic and have a natter. It’s cathartic. I think raising toddlers is probably one of the most stressful and rewarding things I’ve ever done. Probably explains my phobia of anyone under 5 feet tho!

  4. Great blog, and so very true. Lack of support and commumity seems to be at the heart of most of what is wrong with society today. Well said.

  5. Grannymar says:

    You need to adopt a Grannymar! I’ll listen ad also enjoy the natter.

  6. unstranger says:

    Excellent post as ever K8 the GR8. You may well have a point concerning the ‘hand that rocks the cradle’. Deep.

  7. Kirk M says:

    Oh good lord, it’s not a “temporary lapse of insanity”. It’s called taking immediate action in a potentially dangerous situation where it involves the safety and health of a child.

    Let’s take the example given. One child is running around squirting toilet bowl cleaner on another child. Does anyone in their right mind actually believe that talking to the child is going to have any effect whatsoever?

    Your friend did exactly as she should have. Whether she may have lost her temper or instinct took over or a bit of both is entirely irrelevant. What she did do is succeeded in not only stopping the child but immediately impressing upon the 4 year old that this foolishness was very wrong not to be tolerated. As long as she finishes the job and explains to the child later in the day as to why she did what she did. You know, that what he/she was doing could have burned another child’s eyes out of their head for starters?

    Somehow, yapping at the child with the bottle full of bleach and acid based cleansers about what they’re doing is wrong and how it’s not polite to do that to one’s playmates as the child playfully spews the bottle’s contents into another child’s eyes and open mouth as they scream, just doesn’t seem to cut it.

    It’s totally amazing to me that instead of realizing what a horrible situation she managed to avoid just in the nick of time, she agonized on the ludicrous notion that she was a bad mother.

    Or am I not living up to what today’s society jokingly considers “proper disciplinary techniques”?

  8. K8 says:

    Holemaster; Heheh.. did you learn that at your support group?

    Susan; It’s such a shame that that’s the one part of American culture that hasn’t found its way over here yet. I’d happily swap it for Burger King.

    Baino; Toddler groups scare me… I think it’s because the mothers haven’t clocked up enough experience to talk about anything other than their new kitchen fittings. Mind you I’ve never tried so I can’t really talk.

    Mammydiaries; Thank you! Your blog is great – thanks for commenting and leaving a link :)

    Grannymar; You’re too right… we all need Grannymars. There just isn’t enough wisdom in this game.

    Unstranger; Thanks! I was going to say how the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that deserves a pint, but that’s roaming into dodgy territory.

    Kirk M; You have my mindset entirely. If a kid wanders out into a busy road, it gets a smack. Better pain from its mother than pain from the smack of a car! Same goes for plug sockets… basically anything dangerous as you say. I think we’re just programmed to associate slapping with violence, it’s just a socially WRONG thing to do. The socially correct thing to do of course is explain to the child (using Venn-diagrams) the chemical composition of toilet-duck and its catalytic effect on the retina causing irreversible blindness. This of course should be followed by a snack of high-fibre soy-yoghurt. *sigh* We’re raising a bunch of Nancies.

  9. Kirk M says:

    “*sigh* We’re raising a bunch of Nancies”

    But not at your house? (but I understand what you’re saying) ;)

  10. K8 says:

    That’s the collective We I mean. I shudder to think what I’m raising. I’m saving up for counselling fees :)

  11. Kirk M says:

    I knew what you were saying. And don’t worry about what you’re raising. That’s just comes with being one of those good type of parents. Just something you have to deal with. The answer lies in watching how your grown children deal with their lives.

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