I’ve been a mother over 20 years, although I do look a mere child. In all that time, I have regularly shared great advice with my children. But, hard as it is to believe, I don’t think they’ve appreciated any of it. In fact, they even think they know better.
“Put on your coat, it’s freezing outside,” I say, only to discover their coat still hanging up after they’ve left the house.
“Don’t leave all your homework to Sunday night,” I say, only to hear much huffing and ranting at how much homework they have come Sunday night.
Their complete disregard of my wisdom doesn’t stop me though, I’m generous like that. Take one day recently when I decided to speak from the heart about the importance of good self-esteem, having spotted my daughter scrutinising herself in the mirror.
“You know,” I said, “I get up most days and feel great, as if I were still 21. Then at some time during the day, I catch sight of myself in a mirror and I’m brought back down to earth with a bang. It’s not good for the soul.”
“So,” said my daughter, “your advice is don’t look in the mirror.”
“Exactly,” I smiled, happy to have shared such a nugget of wisdom.
“You know Mum,” she said, looking me up and down,
Crushed, but not to be defeated by their disregard, I have soldiered on and one day recently, my heart soared when one of my daughters entered the sitting room with a selection of outfits in her arms. My opinion was being sought at last. She opened and quickly shut her mouth again.
“What’s up?” I said.
“Eh, I was going to ask you which of these two outfits looks better?” She paused, looking me up and down, clearly not impressed by the mix and match ensemble I was wearing, which I admit screamed, ‘made no effort.’
“Actually, don’t worry about it,” she said as she about turned, shouting for her sister upstairs.
For a moment, I smarted. Her loss, I thought. But, if truth be told I understood. Good fashion advice from me is as unlikely as a recommendation for good wine from teetotal, yer man.
The following day, while chatting at dinner, the subject of her almost asking my advice was discussed, amid much laughter.
“You lot don’t know how lucky you are to have me here every day to advise you,” I said, hearing my own mother’s voice as I spoke. “I’ll not be around forever you know, and when I’m gone, you’ll miss me.”
I’d intended my words to quieten their laughter, instead, it fuelled it, as they quickly began to list what they would never forget.
“Ah for god’s sake, where are my keys?” mimicked one daughter.
“Come on lads, does anyone know where they are?”
“Anyone any spare money? I’ll pay you back.”
“If you don’t put that away I will, and you will never again find it.”
“I’ve lost my phone. Has anyone seen it? No, don’t call it, it’s on silence.”
“Ah for feck’s sake.”
“Yes,” said my youngest, “and I’ll always remember how good you were at doing my hair for ballet … not.”
“And of course the smell of burned toast.”
Listening to them I began to wonder, is that really how they’ll remember me? I like to remember my mothering them as loving, caring and wise.
However, as I looked around the table at their laughing faces, another thought struck me. If there was one thing I’d love to be remembered for, it’s, “even on a bad day she made us laugh”.