The ‘over-priv­i­leged’ mother

An­drea Nagel

Sunday Times - - Pulse -

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.


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