Tuesday, 24 February 2009


“Do you know”, I said to Mags over a fat free, piece of fruit cake and a skinny cappuccino, “Half-term seven years ago I was a crazed, wild-eyed mother”.
“Yeah well”, she mumbled, troughing a full fat muffin, “Some things never change”.
“Seriously Mags. Hubby’s ship had sailed for months to the Caribbean, I had a new born baby and two other young children. I was shattered, hormonal and anxious 24/7. I can remember not being able to breathe properly due to the enormity of it all”.
“So how did you get through it?”, she asked, sucking every remainder of chocolate from her fingers.
“An understanding, female G.P who described my situation as a disaster and subsequent, strong, prescription drugs. When Hubby rang me a few weeks later, from a yacht in Antigua wishing me a happy Easter and telling me, oh sorry, he had to go, lobster and champagne were awaiting him in some nearby beach restaurant, I swear I could have swallowed a fistful of those bloody pills”.
“And the moral of this story is?”, she enquired, now turning her attentions to the neglected sultanas on my plate.
“Well, I thought that looking after three small children alone was a tough gig but it was a walk in the park compared with raising teenagers”.
“I wish my mother were here Mags. I’d give anything to be granted one last audience with her. I really need some maternal advice. I want her to tell me what to do, because I tell you, I’m fumbling in the dark”.
We stacked the dishwasher in silence. The cats purred around my ankles, demanding to be fed, briskly followed by two young girls whose DVD had ended and were now ravenous and, evidently, bored.
“What can we do today mummy?” asked the seven year old.
“Well, I was thinking we’d stay in today and play”.
This was not what they wanted to hear and before the moans and groans kicked off I reminded them that we’d been out to lunch this week, had a trip to the pictures and an afternoon at Jump. My purse was empty. A chorus of “It’s not fair” had no effect whatsoever on me and within minutes they were re-enacting some Disney show, involving much lip-gloss, tight clothing and high-heels.
Mags and I went into the sitting room and I fell onto the sofa with a loud exhalation.
“What’s up then?” asked Mags softly, lifting my feet onto her lap, “Sex, drugs and rock and roll?”
“No drugs thank God and I’m in denial with regards the sex thing. Nope, bizarrely, it’s the rock and roll which has caused so much angst in this house recently”.
“How so?”, asked Mags, rhythmically tapping the soles of my feet.
Before I had a chance to answer, the 13 year old stood in the doorway, dressed in a hat and coat, a handbag draped across her chest.
“I’m going into town”, she announced, “There is nothing to do here. I’m going to buy a new book” and blowing a kiss in my general direction she left. I jumped off the sofa and gave her a hug and a simultaneous list of do’s and don’ts.
“Mu-um. I know. Watch the road, don’t be impertinent, walk tall, be confident and don’t talk to strangers”.
“Unless devastatingly good-looking, remarkably appealing and in a well lit room with several others”.
“That’s my girl”. She went to catch the bus.
I resumed my position on the sofa.
“She’s not too much trouble”, remarked Mags, “Can I therefore deduce that it is the son and heir who is providing premature grey hairs?”
Well not exactly him, I tried to explain but the environment in which he is growing up. It is so alien to my own upbringing that it leaves me reeling.
“How do you mean?” asked Mags.
I went on to explain that our son had fallen out with his band. Nothing unusual there, rock bands are notorious for falling out and disbanding. Look at Take That.
“Not quite a rock band Alice”, said Mags, “I don’t think your son sees himself as the next Gary Barlow”.
“Well the Beatles then. The point I’m making Mags is this; when Robbie and Gary and John and Paul were peeved with each other no doubt they had a few fights, bitched behind each other’s backs, trashed the odd hotel room, and then moved on. Nowadays there is Facebook”.
“Exactly. However, if you fall out with your friends these days the whole world and its ‘Friends’ has an opinion and it is there forever as a testimony to your unpopularity and atrocious spelling. It’s insidious”. I sighed.
“You’re depressed because of Facebook?” asked Mags incredulously.
“For what these social networking sites are doing to our children, yes! It seems to me that once behind a screen or a text they assume a different persona. Naturally shy and courteous kids are buoyed by a confidence and effrontery that they would never possess in the real world. That’s it actually. To them they are living in a virtual world and thus they are not really having a ‘conversation’, ergo, they can say what they like; it doesn’t seem to matter to whom. Be it someone’s friend, mother or grandmother”.
“Speaking from experience?”
“Yup. Then, on top of the entire band trauma, our darling son’s attitude to his studying is laissez faire in the extreme. His father and I have patiently explained that until these GCSEs are over, the weekend is the only time he can stay over at his beloved’s. Even during the holidays”.
“Sounds fair”.
“You’d think so. It’s been a week of combat and warfare resulting in texts being sent to me with the ferocity and devastation of Exocet missiles. By all accounts I’m a ridiculous mother. The sworn enemy. Uncompromising and out of touch”.
“Were it ever thus?” said Mags, insightfully.


Mary Alice said...

Really...you should stop writing about MY life!

Did I ever tell you about the time I was having to prepare the house for an oncoming hurricane and getting ready to evacuate alone with three children under five and two of the neighbors dogs which I was sitting ....along with roughly one million other people who would be fleeing along the same roadway....and MM called me from his work trip to Alaska and advised me "sweetheart, you should just relax." Oy Vey.

And yet, now? All that with the little ones seems like, the romantic and much easier, good old days, compared to parenting teens alone - with all the much larger problems.

Alice Band said...

Dearest Mary Alice,
It really is a tough gig and it is the big emotional stuff that is so hard alone. It is impossible to divide yourself accurately so that every child gets an adequate portion of time, advice, listening to their stuff which I find nigh on impossible. Thinking of you xxx

Jen Ballantyne said...

Darling Alice, it is such a foreign world that our kids are growing up in. It makes me feel so old because things have changed such a lot since I was a teen.

I also want to thank you for your comment on my blog. What you felt for my mum is exactly how she does feel and has many times had to check to see whether I'm still breathing, it is terribly hard on her and I do feel so sorry that she has to see me, her daughter, this way. There is absolutely nothing good about this disease. Love to you darling and again, thanks. ;)

Alice Band said...

Happy St David's Day by the way to any of my Welsh followers. You know who you are!

Sally said...

I sympathise completely.....

We have text missile wars too...

Happy St. David's Day btw xxxx