Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting - TRIC KEARNEY

I’ve been a mother over 20 years, al­though I do look a mere child. In all that time, I have reg­u­larly shared great ad­vice with my chil­dren. But, hard as it is to be­lieve, I don’t think they’ve ap­pre­ci­ated any of it. In fact, they even think they know bet­ter.

“Put on your coat, it’s freez­ing out­side,” I say, only to dis­cover their coat still hang­ing up af­ter they’ve left the house.

“Don’t leave all your home­work to Sun­day night,” I say, only to hear much huff­ing and rant­ing at how much home­work they have come Sun­day night.

Their com­plete dis­re­gard of my wis­dom doesn’t stop me though, I’m gen­er­ous like that. Take one day re­cently when I de­cided to speak from the heart about the im­por­tance of good self-es­teem, hav­ing spot­ted my daugh­ter scru­ti­n­is­ing her­self in the mir­ror.

“You know,” I said, “I get up most days and feel great, as if I were still 21. Then at some time dur­ing the day, I catch sight of my­self in a mir­ror and I’m brought back down to earth with a bang. It’s not good for the soul.”

“So,” said my daugh­ter, “your ad­vice is don’t look in the mir­ror.”

“Ex­actly,” I smiled, happy to have shared such a nugget of wis­dom.

“You know Mum,” she said, look­ing

I catch sight of my­self in a mir­ror and I’m brought back down to earth with a bang. It’s not good for the soul

me up and down, “If you ask me I think you could do with look­ing in the mir­ror more of­ten!”

Crushed, but not to be de­feated by their dis­re­gard, I have sol­diered on and one day re­cently, my heart soared when one of my daugh­ters en­tered the sit­ting room with a se­lec­tion of out­fits in her arms. My opin­ion was be­ing sought at last. She opened and quickly shut her mouth again. “What’s up?” I said. “Eh, I was go­ing to ask you which of th­ese two out­fits looks bet­ter?” She paused, look­ing me up and down, clearly not im­pressed by the mix and match en­sem­ble I was wear­ing, which I ad­mit screamed, ‘made no ef­fort.’

“Ac­tu­ally, don’t worry about it,” she said as she about turned, shout­ing for her sis­ter up­stairs.

For a mo­ment, I smarted. Her loss, I thought. But, if truth be told I un­der­stood. Good fash­ion ad­vice from me is as un­likely as a rec­om­men­da­tion for good wine from tee­to­tal, yer man.

The fol­low­ing day, while chat­ting at din­ner, the sub­ject of her al­most ask­ing my ad­vice was dis­cussed, amid much laugh­ter.

“You lot don’t know how lucky you are to have me here ev­ery day to ad­vise you,” I said, hear­ing my own mother’s voice as I spoke. “I’ll not be around for­ever you know, and when I’m gone, you’ll miss me.”

I’d in­tended my words to qui­eten their laugh­ter, in­stead, it fu­elled it, as they quickly be­gan to list what they would never for­get.

“Ah for god’s sake, where are my keys?” mim­icked one daugh­ter.

“Come on lads, does any­one know where they are?”

“Any­one any spare money? I’ll pay you back.”

“If you don’t put that away I will, and you will never again find it.”

“I’ve lost my phone. Has any­one seen it? No, don’t call it, it’s on si­lence.” “Ah for feck’s sake.” “Yes,” said my youngest, “and I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber how good you were at do­ing my hair for bal­let … not.”

“And of course the smell of burned toast.”

Lis­ten­ing to them I be­gan to won­der, is that re­ally how they’ll re­mem­ber me? I like to re­mem­ber my moth­er­ing them as lov­ing, car­ing and wise.

How­ever, as I looked around the ta­ble at their laugh­ing faces, an­other thought struck me. If there was one thing I’d love to be re­mem­bered for, it’s, “even on a bad day she made us laugh”.

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