In some ways I think I should never have been a mother. I am entirely too selfish in some ways, and too unreliable in others.
I believe in living a creative life so absolutely, that I encourage my children to explore their creativity and remind them daily that they are unique. They have gifts unlike any other and that they should try and be actors, writers, musicians, artists, poets, and dancers if they feel they should.
Even though a creative life is a tough road, and it pays beans, I still think it’s worth a shot and they should find a way to tell their story in an artistic form.
I am also the mother who swears. A lot. We had the “at home” language and “at school” language. Why? Because I was too fucking lazy to edit myself at home.
If my kid wants to wear black to their cousins confirmation when she was ten, then so be it, even though a relative told me she looked like she was a goth. Good, I thought. She’s a goth, and a heathen.
If you wanted to eat leftover fried rice for breakfast, then be it in your digestion system. I don’t really care, I’m writing anyway.
“If you take drugs, then tell me so I know what to tell the hospital, otherwise, don’t buy drugs from a bikie and remember we have ambulance cover, so get someone to call them if you’re frothing at the mouth. The hospitals can’t report, they just treat. Don’t take ice. I mean this one. Don’t. It’s a dirty bogan drug and it shrinks your brain.” I then show them pictures of MRI’s of brains after three weeks of ice use that the Good Doctor sent me and this scares them a little. I say the other stuff about drugs because do you think anything you say as a parent is really going to stop your kid from doing stuff? Did it stop you? No. Get real. Tell them how to be safe instead.
“Don’t worry about maths. Really. It’s not your thing. I’m not going to get all caught up in tutors and stressing about your grades over a subject you hate. And no, Mr Teacher, I really don’t care about maths either. He’s exceptional at English and History. Let’s play to our strengths, yes? I can’t be arsed arguing with you about this. I don’t care if he’s not good at maths.”
I didn’t work on my kids times tables, instead I worked on their emotional vocabulary. Twenty words for happy, twenty words for angry. Go. If you can do it, then you’re emotionally intelligent and probably agree with most of this drivel.
I was lazy when I didn’t attend any school concerts for five years, except her last one, because I couldn’t be arsed and she told me that I killed her vibe with her friends. I didn’t see her performance in a play in Year Nine because she had one line, and she told me it was boring as fuck and I might want to punch myself in the face with fire hydrant to stay awake.
I did go to the primary school talent night and laughed until I got asthma at the kid who rap danced, and then turned his back to the crowd, and he pulled his wedgie out in front of the crowd. That was worth going to.
I only went to one performance of any of her plays because I was too tight to pay for extra nights, and honestly I could not have sat through another night of kids acting and singing. There’s only so much, you know?
I believe in my creativity so unsurpassedly that I put it ahead of them. “Make your own way there, be safe, home by six,” is my cry from my desk.
I don’t believe my life exists for them. When people’s children grow up, some parents struggle at the thought of being without a purpose. If your only purpose is to parent, then you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.
I had children because my arms ached with the need for a baby. I then grew up with them. I was twenty-five when I had my first one, with no career and no idea. I made it up as I went along. She came out okay. The second one came before I was thirty. I grew up again with him.
And then I came into myself. Having children forced me to be present, capable, resourceful. It also reminded me to play. I played a lot with my kids. Creating involved games using our imaginations. It was as much fun for me as it was for them.
I’m lazy because I say to them,”Don’t be a dickhead,” and leave it at that.’ I can’t be arsed telling them why and when they’re dickheads. They know. Self-awareness lesson 101.
But then I think maybe this selfishness is what makes me a decent mother. My children are amazing. I’m pretty shocked at how great they turned out. Maybe they needed nurturing but not suffocating? Maybe seeing myself as an individual allowed them to be themselves from day dot.
Or…maybe they just lucked out and are who who they are regardless of their parents.
* The Lazy Arsed Guide to Selfish Mothering with Bonus Creative Activities, will be out later in the millennium, published by Sloth Books. Available for download, because those who want to read it are too lazy to go to an actual bookstore.