Sunday 21 January 2018

Demented mum: So this is what it feels like to be a failure as a mother

SHE has no mother, the Wolverine informs you coldly. She turns to your bewildered husband. She has no father.

With a wide, sweeping gesture that manages to encompass both the dinner table at which she has just consumed a delicious, labour-intensive meal and the comfy sitting-room where she intends to spend the evening watching a DVD, she declares: "Home? What is home? I have no home."

It is Saturday night and the Wolverine is displeased. Shocked by the state of her bedroom -- which he discovered that morning on being summoned to hang a new mirror -- her father had forced her to collect almost six armfuls of clothing from the floor.

These were put through the washing machine in three separate loads by the Wolverine and then -- despite her strong warnings of an imminent cloudburst -- hung out by her on the clothes line.

To her dismay, a hot sun unexpectedly broke through the clouds and dried the lot in record time.

Dad finished them off in the tumble drier and firmly directed her to the ironing board.

It took simply ages and left her so physically exhausted that she is now unable to go on a planned outing with her pals to the cinema to see 'Bridesmaids'. Instead she'll have to stay at home and watch an old video because all her energy was used up doing Mum's job -- the ironing.

"Users," she accuses.

"You just keep me here to do the housework!"

Other fathers were happy for their children to enjoy themselves. Other mothers were content to do the chores themselves while their children concentrated on getting through adolescence.

"Look," I say after 10 minutes of this.

"Get dressed up and I'll drive you to the cinema."

I thank her for all her hard work, pointing out, however, that if she'd only hung up the clean clothes in her wardrobe and put the dirty ones in the laundry basket there'd have been no ironing for her to do in the first place.

The Wolverine fixes me with a cold, saturnine eye.

"You," she declares, "are a failure of a mother. How does that feel?"

I decide not to argue.

"Terrible," I say. "It feels really terrible. When I see the result of my reckless failure standing before me I really fear for the future."

A moment ticks by and the Wolverine gets it.

"That's a terrible hurtful thing for a mother to say to a daughter," she wails and runs out of the kitchen.

Ah well.

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