Showing posts with label single mother. Show all posts
Showing posts with label single mother. Show all posts

Tuesday 18 September 2018

The power of chocolate buttons

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

Little One stamps the pavement outside our house with her new Startrite shoe. "Don't wanna go to school," she wails. "Got no friends."

"School sucks," agrees her older brother, "but you have to go, otherwise the police will come and arrest Mum." 

Sign saying: All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt

I glance across at him to see if he genuinely believes what he's just said. It appears he does. Wow! Those white lies I used to tell him have still got some mileage. 

Monday 18 December 2017

Christmas drama queen

Hermaphrodite Mum 
Three kids and a single mum

 "Are you alright?" asks Middle Child anxiously.

I am beached on the sofa, one hand massaging my temples. "Yes, I think so. It has been a long day."

Christmas decorations hanging on the Christmas tree"Were you working?"

"No, love, I was finishing off the Christmas shopping."

"Oh, is that all?"

I take a deep breath. He's young and inexperienced. How would he know what I've accomplished in the last few weeks? How I have written 80 Christmas cards, bought and wrapped in excess of 50 presents, hauled a six-foot fir tree into the house, dragged two boxes of decorations down from the attic, booked in three online food shops for Christmas and New Year, as well as all the usual drudgery, and... 

Thursday 11 February 2016

A woman like Sally

People watching: 
Sally Curson, founder of Face Matters skincare

As I grow older I find myself becoming obsessed with little details such as wiping the kitchen surfaces and tidying away stray felt-tip pens. It is not a trait that I am proud of - in fact I actively fight against this instinct to control and order my immediate surroundings. Somehow it feels so unBohemian, so suburban, and worst of all it implies a disregard for the important things in life.

Sally: 'Focus on the important issues'
Nevertheless, most mornings, my son and I have our habitual disagreement over whether he has made his bed, drawn his curtains and hung up his pyjamas. My daughter, cut from the same genetic mould as her neat-freak mother, never waits to be asked. "But Mummy, I really don't care if my bed is not made," wails my son. "I like it all messy." Still I persist in urging him to follow my rules.

A few weeks ago, I met a woman who takes a different view. Lying on a couch, my face wrapped in warm flannels, I found myself in conversation with Sally Curson, a beauty therapist and founder of the Face Matters anti-ageing skincare range. She gives facials at Fenwicks in Bond Street and runs a successful business selling beautiful, silicon-based products (which I have recently reviewed for my lovely friends at CountryWives). 

Thursday 12 March 2015

Stop, drop and breathe

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

Walking Toddler comes clodhopping into my bedroom while I am still lying in bed. Her little feet are balanced precariously on my high-heeled shoes left out from the evening before. 

"Mama, we have a soo-pise for you," she shouts gleefully.

She is swiftly overtaken by Middle Child who clouts her around the back of the head with his Viking sword. "Don't give it away, stupid! It's not Mother's Day yet!" 

A child wearing her mother's high-heeled shoes
Walking Toddler in my shoes
© Marikeherselman |
Walking Toddler lets out an ear-splitting wail, hurls herself to the ground and proceeds to beat the wooden floor with her fists. One of my vintage heels goes flying across the room and slams into the back of the bedroom door. 

Oh my God - where to start? Stop, drop and breathe. I repeat it like a mantra, though I can hardly hear myself over the full-body tantrum going on at floor-level. Stop (close your mouth), drop (let the issue go for a moment) and breathe (deeply several times). 

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Favoured chicks

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mother

Sunday evening finds me packing the kids' snack boxes for school. There is a golden rule in my house - everyone gets the same snack, no arguments! Last weekend the cupboard was nearly bare but I found two cereal bars peeping out from the debris of crisps, biscuit wrappers and loose raisins. As I gingerly extracted them, I noticed that they had different best-before dates: one was fine, but the other was a month out. I hesitated for a moment and then I gave the out-of-date bar to Middle Child and the in-date bar to the eldest child (the Quiet One). Job done.

The shoebill: a mother with a favourite 
© Lukas Blazek |
It wasn't until Non-walking Toddler was safely tucked up in her cot that I gave some thought to my decision. Why had I damned Middle Child with a packet of mouldy grains? Was Quiet One my FAVOURITE child? Or was Middle Child my favourite? Perhaps I gave the fresher bar to Quiet One to compensate for a shortfall in love! From this cereal-bar index, could I extrapolate which child I might pull first from a burning building?

I had stalled at an unlikely spot - the intersection between maternal guilt and Darwin's theory of natural selection. One thing stuck in my mind: a piece of footage from a BBC documentary on Africa's Savannah. Deep in the swampy marshes, a stork-like shoebill looks after her two chicks. While she waddles off to find water, the eldest chick attacks the younger hatchling - a fluff-ball on wobbly pins with barely the strength to lift his own head. On her return, mummy shoebill notices fluff in the beak of the aggressor - like most mothers she knows what has been going on. The little fluff-ball gropes his way towards his mum, seeking comfort in her feathers, but heart-breakingly she brushes him aside and bestows her gift of water on the stronger chick. Shoebills, it turns out, rarely raise more than one chick. The younger one is merely an insurance policy in case the older one fails to thrive.

According to research conducted by Catherine Conger, a professor at the University of California, 65% of (human) mothers also exhibit a preference for one of their children - often the eldest one. Just like the shoebill, we apparently orientate toward our eldest, healthiest child - a throwback, perhaps, to earlier times of high infant mortality.

I think back to my pregnancy with Non-walking Toddler and remember how I couldn't imagine loving the new baby as much as the other two. But love comes in a feverish burst, along with the breast-milk and the cracked nipples. We are compassionate creatures. Our capabilities - love, empathy, imagination - set us on a different path to the shoebill. 

For the record, I love my three children equally, but in different ways, according to their strengths and weaknesses. Naturally Non-walking toddler takes up more of my mothering time, but less of my adult space which I am beginning to share gladly with the older two. Middle Child needs more cuddles and reassurance, while Quiet One is sustained by a current of mental sympathy that flows exclusively from me to her. 

And the fiasco with the cereal bars? I worked it out. It was a practical decision. Middle Child has a stomach like a cast-iron bucket. Mouldy cereal bars are no contest for his intestinal juices.  

Hermaphrodite Mum is a fictional creation of Emma Clark Lam
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