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.