For Mother’s Day, what ev­ery woman with chil­dren wants is a heart­felt and grov­el­ling apol­ogy from her off­spring.

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UPFRONT - CAITLIN MO­RAN

It was Mother’s Day two weeks ago (in the UK) – I’ll leave a pause while a cou­ple of you scream: “Oh shit! I knew there was some­thing I’d for­got­ten!” – and I was asked, as al­ways, by my chil­dren, what I would “like”. “Shall we bring you break­fast in bed? Do you want to go out for lunch? Shall I make a cake?” they asked, be­cause they are lovely chil­dren, and also a lot of moon­pig.com ad­verts had re­minded them. “What do you want for Mother’s Day, Mamma?”

Once I’d told them, and they too­tled cheer­fully off to make a gi­gan­tic mess us­ing ev­ery sin­gle thing in the house, I turned to my hus­band, and said, “What do I want for Mother’s Day? What do I want for Mother’s Day? I’ll tell you what I want for Mother’s Day – I want what all moth­ers want on Mother’s Day: AN APOL­OGY.

“This is what we’re all se­cretly wait­ing for – ev­ery mother, in the world. A FULL AND FRANK APOL­OGY. A FULL LIST OF ALL THE HAS­SLE, BULL­SHIT, UNREASON AND CRAZI­NESS WE HAVE BEEN SUB­JECTED TO SINCE WE GOT PREG­NANT, READ OUT LOUD, WITH EACH IN­FRAC­TION SIN­CERELY AND TEAR­FULLY APOL­O­GISED FOR, BE­FORE MOV­ING ON TO THE NEXT ITEM.

“I don’t want a frig­ging cup­cake. I want repa­ra­tions and tran­si­tional jus­tice! I WANT DUE LE­GAL PROCESS! I WANT THEM TO BEG FOR MY FORGIVENESSSSSSSS!”

Once my hus­band had come out from be­hind the sofa, and made me put down the phone (“You can’t call your lawyer. You don’t have a lawyer”) I used his en­su­ing si­lent ter­ror as an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain fur­ther.

“The older one tak­ing all my tights. The younger one call­ing me ‘a tiny wrinkly lit­tle raisin-woman’. The older one los­ing 17 bus passes. The younger one con­stantly bring­ing new pets home. The older one tak­ing pic­tures of me while I do yoga. The younger one pip­ing up at a din­ner party, ‘So, Mum – how are RELATIONS with Dad? You still keepin’ the magic alive – or have you friend­zoned him?’

“The older one tak­ing THREE DAYS TO BE BORN. The younger one favour­ing the left breast over the right one, and leav­ing them lop­sided. Both of them think­ing it’s per­fectly rea­son­able to wake me up at 1am, scream­ing, ‘HELP! HELP! EMER­GENCY! THE WI-FI’S STOPPED WORK­ING!’ The older one blithely pram­splain­ing who The Smiths are.

“This is why I . . . have re­cently started long­ing for grand­chil­dren.”

“The younger one sar­cas­ti­cally say­ing, ‘Is this the pa­tri­archy’s fault, Mum?’ when I have a ter­ri­ble, weepy han­gover. You know what these past 17 years have been? They have been a GODDAMN HOS­TILE WORK EN­VI­RON­MENT, AND I WILL SUE THEM FOR EV­ERY PENNY THEY HAVE! WHICH IS ALL THE MONEY I HAVE GIVEN THEM! I’M GO­ING TO SUE MY­SELF! THAT IS HOW CRAZY THEY HAVE MADE ME!”

Now, I am not an un­rea­son­able per­son. I have al­ways known what the deal is with par­ent­hood. They are chil­dren and I am an adult – the adult who will­ingly brought them into the world, and fully un­der­stood that rais­ing them would re­quire pa­tience, sac­ri­fice, time, de­vo­tion and the end of my me-cen­tric world. The un­rea­son­able things they did as tiny chil­dren – they did them be­cause they were tiny chil­dren. This is what tiny chil­dren do. I know all of this. I wholly ac­cept it. I love them.

The thing is, as they get older – one is 17, the other nearly 15 – they are not un­rea­son­able tiny chil­dren any more.

They are vir­tu­ally adults. And with their new-found ma­tu­rity and wis­dom, it feels like the time is right for them to re­flect a lit­tle on their gen­eral per­for­mance as chil­dren, then come into the front room, and say, “Mamma. I’ve just re­mem­bered. In the Co-op in 2005, when I was in my buggy, and had a tantrum where I arched my back so vi­o­lently the woman on the check­out thought I’d been stung by a bee – when, in fact, I was just an­gry you had not bought a three-page Peppa Pig mag­a­zine for £17? Look­ing back, that was wholly un­rea­son­able. I am sorry.”

Or, “Mamma. Those four years I was scared of but­ter­flies, and you had to walk in front of me wav­ing a stick, telling me, ‘I have dis­missed all the but­ter­flies with my But­ter­fly Stick’? That was a bad scene, dude. I am sorry.”

At this point in their lives, if they are not full of sud­den, daz­zling in­sight into how in­cred­i­bly bloody tol­er­ant and bril­liant I have been since 2000, then surely I have failed as a par­ent.

This, I think, is why I – along with ev­ery other par­ent of teenagers I know – have re­cently started long­ing for grand­chil­dren. Oh, we can pre­tend it’s be­cause we’re broody, or want to con­tinue our ge­netic legacy. Re­ally, it’s be­cause we’re long­ing for that phone call – three months af­ter they’ve given birth – where they go: “Mum? I get it now. Now I see why you used to sit at the ta­ble with that weird look on your face, whis­per­ing, ‘I can’t be­lieve I’m not be­ing paid for this.’ I get it. I’m sorry. Now – can you help make the baby apol­o­gise to me?”

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