For those a bit slow on the uptake, you may have noticed that I find weekends particularly challenging. This is for a number of reasons:
1) my mother’s pervading presence
2) my general tiredness from a week of juggling commuting, work and family duties
3) my mother’s pervading presence
4) the absence of Chef who normally fills my world with humour and good will
5) my mother’s pervading presence
This weekend was no different. It started on Friday as soon as I walked through the door. Felix’s niggling (aka annoying) cough had escalated that day (it started at about 5am) and was basically relentless. My fear that he had whooping cough (again) was growing.
Of course, the sound of the sliding door heralding my arrival home triggers the (dundundundun) of Mum coming downstairs to tell me he’s been coughing “all day” (a wondrous side-effect of having my child at the school where my mother teachers) and the ever-helpful advice that maybe I should take him to the doctor as he might need an antibiotic.
This was followed by another drop-in visit telling me whooping cough was going around. As if
a) I don’t talk to any other parent in the school and find these things out on my own. Or
b) that I’ve already lived through all.of.us. having whooping cough 2 years ago and know full well what it sounds like.
The THIRD visit was to suggest maybe I should give him some Panadol and cough medicine. I’m not kidding. No seriously. She did this. I looked at her, and with every grain of strength in my body said “I have done that” when I really wanted to scream “fuck off and let me look after my own family” or maybe “really? Should I wait the recommended three hours from when I gave him Panadol an hour ago and another five hours for the cough medicine, or just give another dose now?”
The irony in all of this, is that I don’t think she even realised I spend three hours at the hospital with him later that night.
This pissed me off for a number of reasons:
1) it completely undermines my authority as a parent and calls into question any decision I make about the health and wellbeing of my children. Another example of this is when we have pasta for dinner – something my mother does not eat, along with onion, tomato, garlic, cheese and anything else with real flavour in the world of food – and she will comment ‘is that good for them’ – the subtext of course being, that can’t be good for them as I don’t eat it so it can’t have any nutritional value at all. I find this hugely frustrating, highly annoying and grossly offensive as I NEVER call to question the meals she may create for my children, which largely feature an overcooked chop, processed frozen chips and tinned peas. I am not kidding.
2) it acts to turn me into a petulant child – the type that thinks, well if you as my parent are going to tell me to do something (no matter how you try to veil that message) I’m going to do the complete opposite. This of course doesn’t work as it is basically always involves something about my kids that needs action on my part.
3) It locks me permanently into a relationship where I am a fifteen year old child. Any merit or skill I have in my job, in my people skills, in my ability to communicate with anyone except my mother, may as well not exist as she will come down and tell me about this great communication strategy they’re implementing at schools – which has basically been operating in every workplace I’ve been in since leaving university. God forbid I may know something or be skilled somehow in a way not a) guided by her or b)imparted by her to me.
I’m writing this both the vent and to act as a document that as my children grow, I respect them as people, and as they venture into adulthood and the workplace, acknowledge their skills, experience and knowledge as an adult and – gosh – maybe even look to them on occasions when I am out of my normal zone of operation.
Please, if any of you see me vaguely acting in any of the ways indicated above, just take me out into the back paddock and shoot me.