“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” – Oscar Wilde
I have noticed some strange quirks in my behaviour over the last few years, which I think have dated from having children, and which have now become too obvious to ignore or to laugh off as a coincidence. I am doing things that my mother does now, and things that she did when she was raising us in the 1980’s and 90’s.
These are some of the signs that made me first realise that I was becoming like my mother:
- Using tried and tested stock phrases to your children, usually at moments of high stress:
- Play session becoming increasingly excitable? It’ll all end in tears;
- Small spillage from a sippy cup? There’s water all over the floor;
- No-one listening? It’s like talking to a BRICK WALL.
- They want more toys, DVDs and clothes? I’m not made of money;
- Children being particularly irritating? Give me strength;
- The just-replenished biscuit tin is now empty? You can’t pull the wool over my eyes;
- Exclaiming, he won’t get there any quicker whilst watching the speeding motorist disappear into the distance;
- Someone guzzling wine? It’s not pop you know;
- Children squabbling? If you can’t play nicely, you can’t play at all;
- Children whining that they don’t have enough to do? Well, I wish I was bored.
- Saying ‘Ooof’ whenever you sit down or get up from a seat (whether a comfy sofa or wooden chair) and also when you bend down to pick up an item from the floor.
- Mixing up the names of your children ALL THE TIME and calling your son by your husband’s name or your daughter by your sister’s name.
- Recognising your child’s cry as either a) tired, b) hungry or c) hurt and if c), reprimanding their sibling who tries to deny any wrongdoing. (Flashback to 30 years ago when I scoffed at the different cries:
“Ridiculous! They all sound the same”.
“Ah, but a mother knows”.
- When daily routines are controlled by caffeine intake: Ken Bruce’s Pop Pickers is on? Time for a milky coffee. Just had an afternoon stroll to the shops/park? Stick the kettle on, I’m parched.
- A fervent obsession with turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms whilst muttering under your breath about pressure on the national grid (my mother also used to exclaim: “it’s like Blackpool illuminations in here”. I don’t do this. Yet).
- Using words such as ‘snazzy’ (“that’s a snazzy top”); canoodling (“there was a couple canoodling in the swimming pool and it rather put me off my stroke”) and ‘bit of alright’, as in “he’s a bit of an alright”.
- Developing an unnatural pre-occupation with time: looking at your watch before setting off on any journey longer than an hour and announcing to the car that ‘it’s 20 past ten’ as you start the engine and continually stressing about missing a train even though you always arrive at the station 13 minutes early.
- Anxiety about driving long distances or to places you haven’t been before and refusing to drive in the dark / at rush hour / when it’s raining / anywhere in London / anywhere that you may have to reverse park.
- Realising that Question Time is on too late to stay up for. Sorry, David.
- Favouring knickers that provide optimal coverage and comfort over, well, ones that don’t. Thong? In the bin. Not that I like to throw items of clothing in the bin but I don’t even think the local recycling clothes bank would want my cast-off G-strings and I don’t trust my two year old to use them safely as a catapult.
- Always having a tissue on one’s person (e.g. stuffed up sleeve / down bra) and favouring clothes – especially pyjamas – with pockets in for that reason.
- Developing a general obsession about clothes and linen washing. It’s a sunny breezy day? Perfect for getting the washing on the line. Then furtively checking the washing to see if it’s dry and re-pegging it correctly if someone else hung it out. And is there a bigger treat than getting into bed when the sheets are clean, crisp and cold?
- Commentating on TV programmes, whether watching alone or with others. My favourite one is commentating over sport commentary, particularly when watching an important golf tournament with my husband: ‘it’s going in the hole, it’s going in the hole, IT’S GOING IN THE HOLE… Oh, it’s not going in the hole’.
For me, the main sign that I am turning into my mother, at least in some ways, is that I recognise all the above and yet I’m not all that bothered actually. Perhaps this is because I’m a mother now and have therefore given up on all hope of maintaining my identity. Or perhaps I’m just more mature than I used to be. I am not saying that Oscar Wilde was wrong (that would be heresy!) but I find it more, shall we say, tragi-comic than tragic. My husband may disagree. In the hole!