The ‘over-privileged’ mother
Five or six times a night! Before you get any strange ideas, this is the number of times I look at my children while they’re sleeping. I’m not checking on them, I’m just gazing. So what kind of mother am I? An article in The Daily Telegraph lists the new tribes of motherhood for 2018. Solidarity Mom “bails other moms out of last-minute childcare crises and sends group texts with that week’s spelling-test words”. I recognise some friends as that kind of mom. Thank goodness for them. But that ain’t me.
Zero-Sugar Mom “can detect sweets at 20m, and substitutes plum tomatoes. Also has strong views about screen time.”
I know that kind of mom — they scare me and make me feel guilty and disdainful in equal measure. Naturally, I’m not that kind of mom either.
North Face Mom “is permanently attired in outdoor wear; takes their kids camping, rock climbing and river rafting”. Not me.
Then there’s the strict schedule mom; the rave mom; the home education mom; the power networker mom and so on. But none of those is me.
So I asked my family.
“You’re nice,” says my son. “You’re loving,” says my daughter. ‘‘You’re disorganised,” says my partner. “You’re perfect,” says my own mother, who is my ‘‘momspiration”.
If I’m anything like the kind of mother she is, I’m doing a good job. She’s the kind of mother who played Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love full blast when dropping me at the school gate. Was she consciously cueing the orgasm section (1:18 to 3:02) or was that always just a coincidence? She’s the kind of mother who insists on dancing with me on the beach or at family dinners, in the mall — any opportunity works. She’s made rugby fans of her grandchildren — even the princess. She’s the matriarch of the family, who subtly but absolutely ensures that we all bend to her will — with pleasure. She’s generous with everything, but especially with her time. She says that her prudish German mother-in-law loved everything about her except the way she dressed, and I love that. She’s beautiful, unconventional and free-spirited. Strong, gentle and in control. She’s about the only person my partner is a little scared of.
She’s a working woman who always puts family first. And she’s the best gran any kid could ever hope for — insisting that none of her grandchildren calls her Granny. “I’m no ‘Granny’,” she says. “I’m Ma.” She picks them up from school, takes them to their extramural activities and never misses a sports fixture (although she does make quite a racket from the sidelines).
Her home is their home, and she takes over from me any time I want to ditch my maternal responsibilities and go out on the jol. That’s often!
And then it dawns on me. I am the overprivileged mom; the mom who always has her mother behind her, supporting everything she does — especially becoming a mother herself. I am the mom who always has someone to call, day or night. I am the mom whose children don’t have a gran, but have two mothers instead. And while some mothers have to spend months apart from their children, I am the mom who, because of my mother’s support and the kind of life she has given me, gets to gaze at my children while they’re sleeping, five or six times a night.