The chocolates settle comfortably upon the hips of the mothers of Australia – time once again to reflect on Mother’s Day.
Motherhood is not a doddle. Babies don’t come with a user’s guide. Even TV dinners have more comprehensive instructions. Therefore, there are many different kinds of mother. Some deserve special mention.
The Tryhard Mother is the paragon of parenthood. Your average Tryhard plays classical music to her stomach when the pregnancy’s confirmed. Don’t even think of mentioning epidurals – this woman does pelvic floor exercises while she waits in the checkout queue at Coles. The neighbours will be robbed of the opportunity to say she’s let herself go – she’ll be smugly zipping up her jeans on the way home from hospital. Then she’ll iron the nappies.
The Earth Mother spends nine fulfilling, harmonious months preparing soothing alfalfa sprout poultices for her sore bits after her pain-free, organic, underwater birth. Her partner, two close friends and a few interested neighbours will join her – nude, in the patchouli-scented water, being encouraging and singing madrigals. The Earth Mother will breastfeed until the child is five. She will only stop when the kindergarten teacher tells her firmly, but kindly, it is disrupting the class. She is asked courteously to send muesli bars instead. Kellogg’s will have nothing to do with this – the Earth Mother bakes her own with hand-ground grains and they will not be packed in Tupperware – she’s never heard of it, but knows plastic is carcinogenic. Her child will, however, be able to give useful advice on star signs and know immediately whether the sun is in Uranus. Later on, the Earth Mother will be baffled and mildly hurt when her child changes his name from Rigel Stratosphere to Steve. Like every other mother, she’ll wonder where she went wrong.
The Thrillseeker ‘Laugh in the Face of Danger’ Mother barges straight into parenthood by giving birth to her child while parachuting into a war zone. It won’t worry her, either – she thrives on photo opportunities. Her child won’t know what’s hit him. He’ll wonder all his life what he has done to deserve a mother such as this. The Thrillseeker Mother puts her hand into a loaded nappy to check it. She thrusts an arm into a schoolbag that’s been sitting in the sun outside a classroom all day with a devon and banana sandwich inside. Often, the Thrillseeker Mother does not have a partner. He got frightened and left. The child will leave too, as soon as he finds a girl just like mum … another controlling bitch.
The In-Your-Face Mother tells the obstetrician what to do. He wonders why he bothered with seven years of medical school. She pushes the child belligerently through shopping malls like the commander of a Sherman tank, telling other mothers what they’ve done wrong. Teachers hate this sort of mother. They are trained to recognise one at 50 paces. The In-Your-Face Mother’s child is gifted and talented … or else.
The Leave-You-Wanting-More Mother had her child in between conference tea breaks, phoning the hospital whilst explaining the finer points of a Powerpoint Presentation on the overhead projection screen. Fortunately, due to her superior organisational skills and foresight, her nightie was rolled in her tortoiseshell briefcase under a folder of advertising contracts. Her child will wonder whether he has a mother. He’ll build an empire and his wife will have artificial insemination.
Lastly, there’s the At-The-Coalface Mother. A functional, hands-on type – the kind we all wish we had – the kind we all wish we could be. She makes playdough in five different colours and flavours, can flip pancakes, juggle oranges and wears your macaroni necklace in the rain even though the turquoise and orange dye wrecks her off-white jumper. She doesn’t care if you wear odd socks to school, have jam and curried egg in the same sandwich or keep a python under your bed. One Coalface Mother spent all night making a prehistoric diorama in a shoebox because it was due to be handed in at school that morning and she’d only just found out about it. She didn’t get any gratitude and didn’t care when she only got a C+. She’s wise enough to know tomorrow will be another day. When it comes, she’ll cope with that, too.
The Coalface Mother’s kids grow up to be exactly what they want to be. Because she always told them they could.
Have the best Mother’s Day. Whichever one you are …