My earth mother sister, ensconsed in Devon, and nicknamed Chutney Mary, had a bad day yesterday.
Going into the sitting room to sort out some childish squabble, she tripped over her own shoes and fell, squashing her eldest son, the Pickle, under her as she went and knocking his head into the hearth. Blood, tears and casualty later and the Pickle is a proud owner of some skin glue, a new toy motorbike and a Peppa Pig DVD. Chutney Mary may be scarred for life though.
She is quailing under the guilt. I mean, she is prone to being more sensitive than you or I anyway. The slightest hurt or criticism will be hoarded for years, brought out every now and then, polished lovingly and then carefully stored again in acid free tissue paper. This one may beat all our past insults thugh. I think it will never, ever go away.
I imagine that accidents like this are totally normal if you are trying to bring up children. You are tired, bored and trying to do a million things at once and they are small, wriggly and inevitably in the wrong place at the wrong time. This defines incipient disaster. Chutney Mary can't see this quite yet. She is tormented by the fact that she was cross with the Pickle anyway - as though she caused some Karmic disaster by not being permanently loving and sweet natured. I could explain to her that that sort of parenting is only achieved with Valium but she seems convinced that there is natural state of perfect parenting that she could achieve if only she cooked her children more organic food, knitted them ugly clothes out of leftover newspaper and made up a new and imaginative story every night at bedtime.
Her life would be so much less agonising if she was not aspiring to win the mother of the year award all the time. She might even get to enjoy the chaos and madness that parenting seems to engender.
Obviously I am speaking from a child free position. In her book this means I can have no opinion as 'I won't understand'. Maybe she is right, but I can see how she is tortured by the very act of being a parent and as my sister, deranged or not, I'd like her to have an easier life. I could give her a million pounds and a nanny and she wouldn't rest any easier though. She hasn't had a full night's sleep in FOUR YEARS and has martyred herself to the cause for good. Days like yesterday, whilst horrible, will never become a funny story to tell at future parties. Not just because she won't go to any parties (she couldn't leave the children!) but mainly because she will never let go of the guilt for long enough to see it as just an accident.
I wish that a bit of skin glue and a Peppa Pig DVD could fix things for her.
The price of health
2 days ago