So this is my first Mother’s Day as a mother and my first wish (which was granted) was for my husband to take my son downstairs and let me lay in bed, like Barbara Cartland, and listen to The Archers, toute seule. This flags up a few issues; firstly, on writing this last sentence I realise how, like any true addiction, my need for the Archers has crept up on me unawares, until now. It is a true habit, part of Sunday morning, rather than a luxurious novelty. Secondly I am surprised by the ability of a show, set in rural Aga-shire to have settled in my consciousness and, dare I say it, my heart. I have moved beyond gentle amusement at the Producer’s economy with storylines (the saga around the dairy’s steam clean was meted out over a series of weeks), the token efforts of the Agricultural Editor, who gets star billing at the end of each episode for advising on the smallest of farm issues (when do ferrets get their claws clipped? How would David Archer pronounce fettle?). Now I shout at Rob and cringe at Lillian and fret and vex about Helen as much as any retiree. Which brings me to a third point, one which I am less willing to dwell on – when did I get so old?
So, moving back into safer territory (unlike the Archers, which has covered/is covering gay marriage, domestic abuse and adultery), here I am lying in bed, getting my fix, eating breakfast and drinking tea. How long before self-recrimination sets in? The current average is 24 minutes, but this morning, I have made it all the way to 57 minutes. I reflect on my one true wish on my first Mothering Sunday as a mother, a day of appreciation for the maternal experience and the special bond between Mother and Child. My one true wish on this day of all days was that my son could be safely in another room , away from me, for a little bit.
Notice how I qualify even this statement? ‘Safely’? ‘Little bit’? Like I have to justify this decision even on a blog page, which if I am lucky, will be read by ooh, let’s say, over ten people? But the portion of guilt which is handed out free to every mother as they leave the maternity bay has remarkable staying power. And this is why, on this Mothering Sunday , my intention is to get rid of this guilt (much as we wish Helen would get rid of Rob Titchener) . I interact with a lot of different mums and dads over the course of a week as I work my way through my son’s social calendar; from anti-vaccine, to anti-formula, to pro breast (there is a difference between the last two categories), to attachment, to working, to sleep deprived, to competitive, to Mumsnet, to no-screen time, to insecure, to Facebook obsessed, to pro baby led, to no-cry, to cry it out, to routine, to let it all happen as it will (aka chaotic aka me) parents. What we all have in common is that we belong to more than one group at once, or a variety of groups in short succession as we try out different parenting route maps in search of the one that most resembles the parents in the advert. This may mean that we contradict ourselves or that we don’t know what we are doing. We don’t. That’s okay. And that’s the second thing that we have in common and the hardest part of being a parent; not feeling guilty about not doing it right. Not feeling guilty about changing our minds. And not feeling guilty about lying in bed listening to Eddie Grundy on this day of all days. Happy Mothers Day!