At some point in your career as a mum, you work out what kind of mum you are. Before the babies arrive, you worry whether you’ll be good enough. Will you be a Carol Brady kind of mum, all the right answers and perfectly turned out in a miniskirt (though married to a man with a perm, which is off-putting). Or will you be a Malcolm in the Middle kind of mum, practising benevolent neglect?
I’m six years in to this gig now, and what I have learned about myself is not pretty.
I am, for example, a ‘wait til your father comes home’ kind of mum. I never thought I’d be that woman. I thought I had enough intestinal fortitude to manage a couple of under-7s on my own. I hadn’t allowed for tiredness and the chinese water torture that a couple of little voices can inflict over the length of a long day.
I am also not fun. I’d fondly imagined myself rolling around the backyard, making mud pies, encouraging mess and imagination. I do the encouraging – I get out the paints, the play-doh, the water, the spades. But then I dither about saying ‘don’t’. “Don’t fingerpaint on the deck.” “Don’t use the carpet as a forest for your play-doh dinosaur.” “Don’t bring those muddy feet in the house.” Fun mums don’t do that. I know a lot of fun mums. They are all very relaxed individuals. I am not one of them.
In worrying news for my boys, I have also discovered that I am not afraid to be trouble-making mum at the school. Admittedly, I’m a bit of an amateur in this field just yet, but the signs are there. I’ve already had a meeting with the principal to protest the scrapping of second grade swimming lessons. Mr 6 hasn’t even made it to second-grade yet. I know what you’re thinking: poor kids. But it was a principle thing, I promise.
I’m a stickler for manners, an ogre for reading homework and bedtimes, and a demon when it comes to eating your vegetables. Your basic nightmare.
I thought things might change with the move to the Fibro. Perhaps I would morph overnight into Fun Mum, ready to drop everything, including homework and housework, for spontaneous trips to the beach or twilight picnics. And, to an extent, this has happened – mostly because The Builder now cycles 15 minutes to work rather than driving an hour each way and so is home by 4pm. It’s easier to plan spontaneous family adventures when you have time.
For the most part, however, it’s business as usual. As I’ve discovered, the one overwhelming thing about any big move is that, while everything around you may change, you take yourself with you.
Apparently, this is the mum I was destined to be. No mini-skirts for me.