My Teengirl is currently reading ‘How to survive family life: they f*** you up’. Am bracing myself for the fallout of her newfound understanding of my parenting shortcomings. But, frankly, family life isn’t always easy. Dustbin lids don’t come with an instruction manual. Though one might prove useful, I’d probably ignore it.
This week I read reviews of 'Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality' by Rebecca Asher, a new mother. She’s angry about the inequality parenthood brings. Go figure sister: welcome to the real world. Life’s not fair. Equality may work at work, but the arrival of dustbin lids changes things indoors. For ever. She’s clearly not yet used to the sleep deprivation that comes with being a parent: it takes at least a decade. She suggests the government forces fathers into equality. I think she’s wasting her precious time and energy. She is yet to learn that just as tiredness can cause anger, motherhood can cause martyrdom.
Family life can be full of drudge. And mess. And poop. And laundry. Always laundry. And tears. And challenges. And joy. Deep joy. And laughter. Lots of laughter. Inequality starts in the earliest days of pregnancy: as the smell of his morning coffee makes you want to puke. The paths of motherhood and fatherhood are different, and in places uneven. With this realisation, the puke reflex returns.
Sadly, there wasn’t much mention of the lids in the reviews. I haven't read the book so I don't know where their perspective fits in. I lay no claims at being a perfect mother. Who'd want to be one of those? They seem smug and irritating. I don’t always get it right. And, what works for me, won’t work for my sister. But I know I’ve been blessed with children. They are a gift. To be treasured. And we don’t want to f*** them up any more than we were by our parents.