Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

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Turning down the heat on smotherlove

Over-mothering. I’ve just been accused of it by Team Children.

Really? But I’ve worked full-time throughout their formative years, missed Christmas shows, forgotten packed lunches/wellies/coats, been the last to collect at after school club more times than they’ve not had hot dinners (“Actually it’s the After School Club Woman I feel sorry for, having to take me home with her. I don’t mind, I know you’ll come – eventually,” said Youngest calmly as I apologised).

And the teen years have seen self-mutilation (tattoos, piercings, green, pink, purple hair), experimentations and incidents galore, most of which I don’t write about for legal/children ever speaking to me again reasons.

So to find myself accused of OVER-mothering, that was a surprise.

“Yeah, we’re half-baked,” says Middle, who is telling me he’s already fed himself and Youngest, and that I shouldn’t be apologising.

“You do too much. And it’s not good for us.”

Eldest agrees: “If you didn’t cook for us, we’d have to cook, and shop and take less enjoyable jobs with more hours.”

“I don’t want you knocking yourselves out with rubbish jobs while you’re studying to move into a scabby rented room and live on Pot Noodles,” I say.

“But we might like it. We need to grow up. We should be adults now. People used to start work at 14.”

“Yeah,” I say. “MY grandad was on a whaling ship in the Arctic when he was barely a teenager and the other was down a mine. And my grannies were working as servants and in jute mills, not much fun either. Hmmph.”

“Maybe it was character building though?” says Middle.

“And maybe it was character damaging? Brutal and hard. One of YOUR grandads was delivering milk at dawn before primary school. And the other was taken out of school and sent up the hill behind their house to fire a gun at enemy planes!”

“Well, when I say less enjoyable jobs…” says Eldest.

“OK, I’m being extreme. You’re absolutely right, I’m hampering your development. OK, I’ll cut back on the cooking for starters.”

“What!?” says Youngest, catching on late. “I’m still a child. Keep cooking! I’ll have theirs.”

That’s my girl. For a wee bit longer