THERE is a scene in the film Mean Girls in which one of the lead characters, Regina George, invites her nemesis and our burgeoning heroine, Cady, to her house along with her group of friends.
It is here that we meet Mrs George, the perma-blonde, pink velour tracksuit-wearing, wannabe member of her daughters’ squad, ‘The Plastics’. Played by Amy Poehler, she delivers the now iconic line to her daughters’ friends: “I’m not like a regular Mom, I’m a cool Mom.”
To qualify this she offers alcohol when Cady questions her announcement of Happy Hour being from four to six on presentation of a tray of beverages: “Oh God, honey, no! What kind of mother do you think I am? Why, do you want a little bit? Because if you’re going to drink, I’d rather you do it in the house.”
Upon barging into the room where her daughter and boyfriend are checking out each other’s dentistry she proffers: “Can I get you guys anything? Some snacks? A condom? Let me know.”
She is everything which is cringe-inducing and the antithesis of what I told myself I would be as a parent.
Turns out I was wrong.
Why yes, you are correct. That high horse parked over by the barrel marked, ‘My last shred of dignity,’ is in fact mine. It’s the same one I fell off.
Looking back, the warning signs where there. I just chose to ignore them.
I was not going to fall foul of ‘Irish Mammy’ mannerisms. Nope! I was a woke millennial! I knew about stuff. Cool stuff.
I had visions of my children’s friends returning home to wistfully exclaim to their parents: “I wish I lived with them, they’re so cool.” Turns out I was just setting myself up to be the new version of the Irish Mammy — Millennial Mammy.
It began the first time my eldest son had a friend over.
Irish Mammy would concern herself only with making sure the homework was done: “I don’t need any phone calls from that school” and shoving a dinner which was two-thirds potato into them before booting all and sundry out the door for some fresh air. In the rain.
Enter Millennial Mammy; I agonised over a menu in the hope that tales of my cooking prowess would be relayed to their parents. Of which I would then accept their parental praise with a coy, “oh it was nothing; a moment’s work”, while flicking my glossy blow-dry and batting my perfectly lined lashes at them.
No… wait, that’s some culinary vixen on the telly. You see the level of delusion which was beginning to manifest itself?
I can’t remember where or whence I came upon the recipe I toiled over. It matters not because trust me when I say, you do not want it. I vaguely remember it being some super-green pasta concoction.
It promised a ‘quick, easy and nutritious meal’ that they would duly scoff. To say it was laborious in its preparation would be an understatement.
There were many steps involving blending and pesto making.
It was finnicky and sweat inducing but I would not be beaten.
When plated in front of the kids, they looked first at their bowls, then at each other before finally side-eyeing me.
After two mouthfuls, and several grimaces I asked: “Who wants some chicken nuggets?”
Alas, this maternal neediness has lost the run of itself entirely as they have grown.
My eldest will be 10 this year and so alternates with loping in and out of the house with friends at various intervals.
As soon as I hear the door handle, I pounce: “Hi guys! How is everyone? Cool, cool! What are you up to? Playing some Xbox? Cool, cool. Is anyone hungry? Can I get you anything? Anything at all?”
As this over-eagerness tumbles from my mouth my inner dialogue is screaming,
“Stop it! Stop it now!”
My son is incredibly tolerant and patient and displays zero level of embarrassment at his mother’s smothering neediness. I’m sure as we trundle towards the teenage years, that may well change but for now he offers a piteous smile along with: “No Mum, we’re grand, thanks.”
As they barrel out of the house, I sprint upstairs to catch a glimpse at them leaving. My daughter then hollers that she and her friend are hungry.
“OK! Cool, cool! What can I get you? Just name it… it’s no trouble.”