Sunday, 31 October 2010
Book tour finale: Happy Child
If you're an Australian mum you're bound to know about Happy Child, a parenting website run by Yvette Vignando. Yvette's e-zine and site isn't just about the baby stuff, it's there for you rifght throughout the nursery years, the school years, and well into the uber challenging teenage years. If you haven't subscribed- you should. It's free and Happy Child is packed with great parenting articles.
To round off the Cocktails at Naptime book tour, Gillian has pitched up at Happy Child to write a guest article. As with everything Gillian writes, don't expect it to be too serious. Head on over to Happy Child to read the full post and win a copy of the book.
In Cocktails at Naptime, a book I wrote with Emma Kaufmann we said:
“Yes we’ve all been to another mother’s house that has looked like she’s spent the morning actually licking it clean with her own tongue as if a lifestyle magazine photo shoot were happening that very afternoon instead of your visit for tea, biscuits and gossip. That woman will soon be having a breakdown in the middle of a supermarket aisle: you do not want to be her.”
My own mother was and is that woman. She's a fantastic mum but she's an absolute neatness and clean freak. Her house is immaculate. The other week she got excited when she found a secret compartment in her tumble dryer that would need regular cleaning. One that she didn’t know existed before. She reacted to finding this fluff-filled compartment in the way normal people react when they find a $50 note they’d forgotten about in the pocket of last season’s jacket.
When she was recovering from an operation in her late forties she had to get a cleaner. She would clean before the cleaner arrived. And after she left.
I am like my own mother in many ways, I look like her, I hear myself talking like her but in terms of house pride we are polar opposites. She despairs of me and if it weren't for the physical resemblance she might think I'm some kind of changeling. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about it, especially when my mum comes round to visit unexpectedly, but on the whole I'm happy that I don’t feel the need to spend six hours a day making sure my house is immaculate. The thing is, I'm a mother of the 21st Century; so much is expected of me. In addition to being a mother and a wife, it's expected that I earn a living too. When my parents married in the sixties, the first thing my mother did was quit her job and set out her stall as a housewife. My parents had no money and it would be eighteen months before she even had a baby (me), but no-one batted an eyelid at her non-working status. Her mother had done the same, as had all her friends when they got a ring on their finger. Can you imagine that flying with your husband these days?
If I was to achieve the standards of neatness and housewifely perfection that my own mother and other women of her generation maintain, I would spend every hour of my non-working time with my hands full of Hoover and my head down sinks and toilets instead of paying any attention to my kids. There has to be a balance. Nothing makes me happier than visiting friends whose houses are an absolute disgrace. A scene of domestic devastation fills me with joy. My own house teeters on the edge of messiness most of the time, but somehow we manage to avoid it collapsing into a perma-hovel completely. I like to feel slightly smug when I witness others whose houses have got completely out of control. It makes me feel like a success! I’m not as slovenly or inadequate as them. Woohoo!
I'm lucky enough to live across from a friend who is a lone parent and has four teenagers, a foster child and a full time teaching job. Whenever I feel domestically inadequate I pay her a visit. I pick my way through the mound of laundry to her messy kitchen for a mug of tea with some dog hair in it and I stay there for an hour basking in the chaos. Then I go home and miraculously my house feels like something out of a homes and gardens magazine, without so much as me lifting a finger. I’d recommend finding a friend like this is you don’t have one already.
As I type this in my dining room I'm surrounded by my daughter and her friends making Halloween decorations. Upstairs my son has three friends in and they are making a racket with guitars and a drum machine. There are sequins all over my floor, I've just heard a massive crash upstairs, papier mache balls drying all over my kitchen counter and someone has just got a glob of glue in their hair that I had to break off from this article to scrape out before it set and an emergency hairdresser's appointment had to be made.
I admit it, my living room is in a bit of a state and I have no idea what we’ll be having for tea. But do you think my kids and their friends will remember any of my housekeeping shortcomings in years to come? Do you think I'll look back on my life and sigh and say “I wish I'd done more housework.”?
Of course I won’t. As for the kids, I hope they’ll remember how their friends used to like to hang out at their house and how there was always something cool going on. And how no-one ever asked them to lift their feet to let a vacuum cleaner go past. That’s the house I like to run, a busy one with lots going on and one where a spillage on a cream carpet doesn’t reduce a woman to tears.
Who knows maybe when they leave home I’ll even manage to squeeze about ten years of housepride in…before my grandchildren arrive to wreck the joint.
Visit Happy Child by clicking here.
Posted by Misssy M at 15:33