Monday, July 23, 2007

Ranting about Motherhood

What is it about winter that makes us so dispirited – at least a little more than in summer? This of course, excludes all teenagers, who feel bitter and depressed all year round. This sullenness is driven by being 13 – 16 and having appalling parents who refuse to allow them to stay out all night, have unlimited mobile phone credit or eat only purple food. Mine aren’t there yet, but I’m watching my friends’ children turn into aliens from the planet Angst and thinking about the future.

I am, of course, an appalling mother. All mothers are appalling at some point, but I have decided to make it my life’s work to be really awful at motherdom.

I strongly recall my own teenage years. I was poisonous. I wrote sad and bitter tragic poetry, (which was overall bad poetry) and spent a great deal of time in my room. In the dark. With incense. And cigarettes I fondly imagined my parents knew nothing about. (This was until my mother ran out of cigarettes and started stealing mine – at which point I realised they weren’t as stupid as I’d hoped).

I spent a lot of time being a tortured soul and wearing black. Now, of course, the same wardrobe just looks like you live in Melbourne. Or possibly that you can’t make wardrobe choices in the morning and black always goes with other colours. Like black. Or even black.

Occasionally, my very nearly five year old daughter shows flashes of what she will be like as a teenager. I’m NOT looking forward to it. So, I thought I’d get a head start and become a really awful mother now, just to get prepared.

Her birthday is next week. For lots of reasons, ever since I discovered at 18 weeks of pregnancy that I was having a girl, I declared our house a Barbie and Baby Born free zone. I agree with all the arguments about them being sexist and pushing particular gender roles on children, but mainly I hate the marketing. I hate the fact that clothes for either of them cost more than clothes for a real baby or child. I object to commercials about Barbie cruise ships or Babies that wet and cry (hey – got one already – he’s 2!).

I have extended the marketing free zone to include Bratz, which I think are slutty, and send all the wrong messages about body image and fashion to young girls. I resent the sexualisation of children that corporations push in their toys, clothes and in the media. And I won’t put money in their pockets to let them keep doing it.

Philip Adams coined the term ‘corporate paedophilia’, and I agree. So I am an appalling mother.

Mind you – I don’t mind Bob the Builder to the same degree – especially not since Wendy came out of the office and picked up a hammer!

That turned into a bit of a rant – sorry – but while I have always felt this way, it’s become more personal since having children of my own.

I am also an awful mother because we don’t watch commercial television – so most of the time I don’t know what the toy-de-jour is anyway!

I feel strongly that it is a parent’s role to embarrass their children in public as frequently as possible. That parents are there to love, protect, support and place limits on behaviour. That parents exist to turn the constant barbarian invasion that is babies into civilised – and civil - human beings. Human beings who value and respect others, believe that working is a good and valuable thing, that riches of the mind are more important that instant celebrity and that books are the very best presents to give and receive. (No, I haven’t read HP yet – the Accountant snaffled it as it came in the door and won’t give it back).

I also think that parents should read. And knit. And laugh. And cook. And play. And answer questions. And build houses out of boxes and make cards with glitter. And get dirty and kick balls and throw snowballs and make sandcastles and pick flowers and climb trees and push swings. And knit. And kiss their children and read stories and when the children are in bed they should fall exhausted into chairs and drink wine and knit (but not knit drunk – no, no!)

Besides, embarrassing your children is fun! Just think, when they’re teenagers they’ll get to embarrass you!

I also hate Big Brother. And I would hate Paris Hilton – if I didn’t feel so sorry for her. I bet she had a REALLY appalling mother.


Bells said...

I'm not a mother yet, but I'm applauding, sitting here in my dull as hell government office, just applauding.

Thank you Tinkingbell. That was fabulous.

Georgie said...

*stands, applauding*

Beautifully articulate post TB. I'm a few years behind you, but struggle with similar things and am terrfied of what lies ahead on a daily basis. You've just captured my feelings perfectly. Thankyou!

Kate_knits_a_bit said...

Oh, yes, you have joined the Mean Mum Mob (M3) - as part of the M3, you must stand in the aisles of the nearest cheap clothes shop muttering about the total inappropriateness of midriff tops and miniskirts sized for 4yr olds. You must walk the aisles of the supermarket ignoring every wistful or whinging request for chocolate/lolllies/80% sugar bickies/anything marketed by Shrek. You must place firm limits on tv, and especially enforce tv/comp free hours for enormous parts of the weekend. You must insist on regular early bedtimes, and refuse to let them watch movies designed for people 5+ years older.
Hey, why don't we make this official? Write a manifesto (the M4!!), post it on our blogs, come up with a button (I know not how) and see how many we can infect???
ps thanks for your comments - I'm trying to catch up over the next few days!