Mothers can be very different. They come in all colours and all shapes and sizes, so where do I even start? Let’s begin with breasts, shall we? That seems as good a place as any. After all, that is where it all started didn’t it!
Generally speaking, mothers all have a pair of boobs, but what they choose to adorn them with is as varied as the colours of the sea. Some favour your basic common or garden, no-frills Sainsbury bra, two for £14.00. Others go for the seventy pounds Elle Mcpherson ones, a sexy little number which I have admired from afar for many years. Then there’s the sports bra, the padded bra, the bra which consists of almost nothing but white lace. Let’s not also forget the maternity bra, what a joy. I myself favour my 12- year-old black Wonderbra, the wonder is, that it hasn’t fallen to bits yet despite being older than at least one of my children, and my housebound arthritic cat.
Now, my hair, unlike my cat, and my children is low maintenance, wash, brushed occasionally and every month I dye it red to cover the greys and to combat my otherwise, dull and androgynous appearance. I have two hairstyles, number one in a ponytail, and number two not in a ponytail. But that’s just me. Other mums actually take care of their hair. They might curl it, braid it, layer it, extend it. Treat it with hot oil, lotions or the tears of a wild orchid. Christ, they may even brush it regularly. Of course, not every mother has this much time on their hands.
Now let us move on for the female form for it is something that by now has been well documented. If, however, you are more interested in this subject, then return this book to Waterstones. Then check out those very high brow books in the Art or Feminist Literature section. Oh, or buy a copy of Loaded magazine, they seem to have a lot to say about women’s bodies too!
Next, it feels important to discuss the space women inhabit, and I realise I am still sounding very high brow. Fear not I am merely referring to the places they live. Bricks and mortar darling, bricks and mortar.
Where they live
Some mothers live in the sprawling metropolis, high up in tower blocks or dilapidated Victorian houses. Others inhabit new-build apartments or spacious country homes and then there is everything else in between. Personally, I am one of the council flat varieties and yet here I am articulate as hell and even on occasion shopping at Waitrose.
Family homes can be quite tidy. So tidy in fact that you might never even guess children live there. There are parents out there who actually manage to maintain a clutter-free, spotlessly clean living environment, no really. But this is not the natural habitat of every family. Some homes exude the presence of children from every corner. In these homes, you can literally spot fridge doors hanging off under the weight of their children’s ‘artwork.’ Inside this variety of home, it’s often impossible to tell which room is which. Is this the front room, the playroom or just a gigantic porthole to another land? A land where long forgotten and incomplete board games live happily alongside half-empty yoghurt pots. And where dirty socks mingle freely with apple cores? It’s hard to tell sometimes. Given these descriptions, perhaps you can imagine what my home might look like…no try again, it’s not that bad!
Just as their homes differ, so do the many talents these women. Some mums can single handily assemble an IKEA bunk bed, without once wishing they’d never bought the fxxking thing in the first place. There are also mums who calmly help their children with their maths homework. Not only do they help them they do so without simultaneously having a heart attack. The last time I tried helping with homework my head exploded. I was cleaning plasma off the table for weeks after that. In my defence though, it was long division.
Mothers can also be incredibly creative and artistic. I know one mum for example who created a beautiful mosaic of a tropical rain forest on their children’s bedroom wall. But please don’t think that this is all of us. Some of us can’t even create a homemade soft toy from an everything you need to make a soft toy kit!
We can also be kind, caring and empathic. But they can also be opinionated, overcritical, foulmouthed and stubborn. Some mums for example need to swear occasionally. Usually at times when they feel totally frustrated and overwhelmed. Yet not all mums resort to uttering a string of expletives in this situation, at least that’s what I’ve heard. My mum, for example, has never said the F word in her entire life, which seems almost impossible to imagine. But she assures me it’s true, frequently and usually when I’m reaching for it myself.
When it comes to lifestyles, again, we see a vast array of different setups. There are mothers who stay at home to look after the children while their husbands or partners go out to work. In these modern times, it is also quite possible for this arrangement to be reversed. It is not unheard of for women to be the main breadwinner while their partner stays at home. Although I hear women are still currently earning less than men, apparently, we are still, just not working hard enough!
Alternatively, mothers might single-handedly support themselves and their kids on their paycheck alone. After they’ve paid all the bills, they might even have some money left over to treat themselves. One month they might get a Wispa Gold, for example, the next, a bottle of hair conditioner.
Let us not forget the delightful benefit system which provides a safety net for those without an income. Not a comfortable, well-crafted net like any decent human would want. But a net nonetheless and one which usually stops you from drowning. There are all kinds of reasons why a mother might need to claim benefits. One very good reason is that they might not be able to find a position with suitable hours. I mean how many jobs have you seen that start at 10.00 am finish at 3.00 Monday to Thursday, with Friday off to catch up on all the bloody washing. You see my point here.
The role and lifestyles of mothers in society have changed a great deal over the years. Mothers now do all sorts of jobs. They are cashiers, police officers, careers, teachers, doctors, nurses, architects and sex workers, bus drivers, cleaners, dentists, prison wardens, and even prime ministers, although those last two didn’t work out too well, did they? These days the world of employment is literally full of working mothers, it’s nothing like those old Richard Scarry books anymore you know. Women don’t just work at the sweet shop or iron the captain’s white shirt.
Some mothers have demanding jobs as well as looking after their children, that is. There are mothers who have positions where they manage people, make conference calls and oversee acquisitions and mergers, whatever they are. Then there are those employed in jobs which are demanding in a different way. Perhaps they must answer like a fxxking thousand phone calls every bloody day. If that was not tough enough, they must do so politely and making sure they don’t ‘accidentally’ swear or hang up on any of the stupid callers. Then they must go home and be the epitome of patience and understanding for their children, I’m serious.
As well as mothers who go out to work there are also, of course, stay at home mums. This type of mum brings up the children while their husbands or partners go out to work. But don’t be fooled: this role requires a great many skills too. An important talent these women must possess is the ability to hold their tongue in the face of adversity and provocation. A stay-at-home mum will spend her entire day on her feet, working her arse off while simultaneously being subject to comments such as,
“Oh, you’ve got young children haven’t you, so you don’t work!” (FFS)
“You’re so lucky!” (I tell myself that every morning.)
“What do you find to do all day?” (You don’t need to look; the housework finds you.)
“You must really love your kids.” (As opposed to working mothers who obviously don’t love their kids quite as much.)
“Can’t you afford a Nanny?” (A nanny? I can’t even afford a nursery place).
Many a foolish husband has asked; exactly how long does it take to do a bit of hoovering and cleaning? Now isn’t that a silly question., I mean how long is a piece of string, a piece of string from an enormous ball of string that belongs to a bloody great giant with a string fetish. In reality, the stay-at-home mum is a cook, a cleaner, a negotiator, an event’s organiser, a doctor, a talk partner and a playmate.
Finally, although not conclusively there are the mothers, I mentioned earlier, who survive on benefits and who may have to on at the job centre to sign on. These women are highly skilled too as they have learnt how to successfully support their children on a finite budget of three shillings a week. The financially challenged mother has a mind like an encyclopaedia. She knows of every free museum, gallery, and exhibition in the local area. Not only this, she will have an up-to-date knowledge of every two for one offer. At any one time, she can tell you who is doing a ‘kids go free’ promotion and which supermarket is selling Rice Krispies half price. You might also want to think twice about pushing in front of her at the bus stop.
Before I continue, I feel it is important to first dispel some of the many myths that surround motherhood…….
If you would like to find out more about mothers check out tomorrows post.
Before I continue, I feel it is important to first dispel some of the many myths that surround motherhood.
Once you have children, you never get to go out again (I mean out, out)
Some people believe that choosing to start a family means saying goodbye to your social life. This is simply not true. Mothers go out all the time! Some of us go out to clubs, bars, the theatre and even all-night parties. Others choose not to go to such places because they are too tired, skint, or busy or all three. However, there are still plenty of places out there for these women to mix with other adults. There is Asda, for example, or Sainsbury’s. Then there’s the doctor’s surgery and the park. Yep, there’s always the park.
When you start a family, holidays are a thing of the past.
When you are a mother, you can still travel to lots of different destinations, you just have to bring your children with you, unfortunately. This might mean you can’t go clubbing in Ibiza or Ayia Napa for a while but there are still lots of exciting places to choose from. For example, one might spend a couple of weeks at a château in the Dordogne. Then there’s Vermont, which provides the perfect place for a family skiing holiday. Providing one takes the nanny that is.
But luxury holidays are not for everyone, don’t I know it! That’s OK though, there are lots of other options for families. Rundown seaside towns for example provide a perfect place for a cheap holiday, plus by staying in a caravan or chalet you can make it even more affordable. Then there are those lovely Butlins vouchers you get in The Sun. Let’s not also forget the faithful four-man tent. I mean, who doesn’t adore camping with little ones?
Finally, there is one place which provides some respite for parents, and one which is very affordable and that’s Costa del Grandmas House. Leaving your kids with your parents costs nothing and when you check them in, it’s like you’ve been instantly granted annual leave. Without the kids, you instantly feel like you are on a relaxing weekend getaway. Even though you might do nothing but drink tea and binge Netflix all weekend.
When you’re a mother with young children, you spend your entire day having inane conversations about Peppa Pig, poo and the benefits of eating your vegetables
I’m not going to lie, when you are a mum you do spend vast amounts of time in the company of children, and you do have to occasionally talk to them, but there is a positive side effect to this. This very same isolation creates a strong desire to communicate with any other living creature you meet, even a cat or a pigeon for example. Interestingly a mother can recognise another mum in any setting, a bus stop, a hospital waiting room, even a public toilet. (I hear drug addicts and dealers have a very similar ability) Furthermore, these brief encounters provide a perfect and much-needed opportunity for adult conversation.
Such as, “Ahhh, how old is your baby?
“Seven months, and yours?”
“Almost a year.”
“I am so tired.”
“Yes, I’m really tired too.”
Adult interactions are essential when you are a mother as they help guard against the onset of insanity. But this is not the only thing that gives a mother strength, some also have their faith. For these women, their God provides them with the hope and courage to keep going, to keep marching onwards. Other mothers find salvation elsewhere, in the pub or the hairdressers for example or in online gambling.
All mothers ever do is talk about their kids; they have no idea what’s going on in the real world.
Only the other day I saw two women, out with their babies discussing world news. One woman was talking about the extreme political upheaval in Russia and the Baltic states. The other lady, well at first, seemed to just stare vacantly into space. However, after just a few minutes she replied, “Russia, yes Russia that’s a country, isn’t it?” Okay, it wasn’t a long discussion, but I think I’ve made my point.
Just because a woman has children does not mean she can’t keep up with global events. Mothers read the papers too you know, they just do it while rocking a Moses basket with their foot and listening out for the Asda delivery