I love my mother.
And not just because she made me roll around laughing for 20 minutes today after claiming that Prince must have died because his body was “too small to fight off infections.”*
She has also come out with some brilliant pieces of parenting wisdom.
1.) About breastfeeding: “You’re doing it because you enjoy it.” The only response to this is to cover your ears and shout “WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION” repeatedly. Yes, I enjoyed every moment of sitting there with a baby literally attached to my sore breasts solidly for the first two months, and now I only do it because I “want him to be dependent” on me. Dependence is a terrible quality in a child under two. He should be off down the mines.
2.) “Don’t tell him. Just go and do it!” I was only informing said small child that I was going to go and have a shower. I’m not sure what I expected; him to throw himself on the floor in anguish and sob hysterically at the mention of his beloved mother leaving the room for a few minutes, possibly, but before we moved in with my mother, showers were spent trying to keep him entertained in the bathroom with as many waterproof and battery-free toys as possible, whilst simultaneously trying to make sure he didn’t bang his head on the toilet bowl. We are bathroom buddies, I can’t just leave without telling him where I’m going.
3.) “Watch out! There’s MUD on there!” We are in the garden. It is a veritable jungle which includes an entire section of around five square metres which is basically a giant cat litter where every single one of the neighbourhood’s five thousand cats regularly come to do their business. There are bits of gardening equipment the like of which I have seen used as actual murder weapons in Midsomer Murders and random gas canisters strewn around as the shed is in the process of being emptied. Piglet is in the middle of the only reliably safe section-the lawn-accompanied by his mother (me), a woman who likes to think that she is somewhat concerned for his safety, and yet he needs to be warned by my mother shouting above the din to watch out for MUD?
4.) “I know you say that rear-facing car seats are better, dear, but I ask you this, WHERE DO THEY PUT THEIR LEGS? It’s all very strange, if you ask me.”
I appreciate your concern about the placement of legs when sitting in a rear-facing car seat, but I’m going to go with the latest safety recommendations here, not whatever we used to do in the 1980s when it was jumpers for goalposts, everyone left their doors unlocked and drink-driving was a socially acceptable Friday night pastime.
5.) “Well, if you ask me, this baby led weaning business is all a load of rubbish. They need SPOONS. They can’t feed themselves, and it’s ruining my carpet!”
I bow to your better judgement about what’s right for the carpet, but if this child ends up so obese that we have to knock down a wall and haul him out of the side of the house by crane, I’m blaming you.
Seriously though, I cannot complain. My mother may like to voice her opinion about how parenting in the 1980s was much more straightforward when you could feed children aspirin with impunity, sit them outside the house in their prams for hours on end, and the most difficult question you could be asked was why everyone called Boy George a boy when he was quite blatantly a girl, but I cannot fault her. Who else but a mother would put up with her 35 year old offspring moving back into the family home like the prodigal son after a dissolute and more than slightly too long youth, tiny child in tow, and encouraging said mother to take on a second career late in life as an unpaid childminder for the tiny child in question?
Never let it be said that I am not grateful for her unerring support in the face of my decision to embark on parenthood alone, a decision that she must have considered to be a severe case of modern madness.
However, apparently, back in the 1980s, parenting was another country. They did things differently there.
*I am smaller than Prince. The future is bleak.