It’s five o’clock and I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner. From big daughter’s bedroom above the kitchen comes a constant thud-thud-thud from her CD player which even drowns out the radio I’ve got playing. It’s no good, I’ve got to go and tell her to turn it down, and as I’m shrieking “Turn it down!” up the stairs, I realise that I sound exactly like my Mum.
When I was a teenager, I vowed that I would be a much better Mum than my Mum. I would let my children watch television when they wanted to, I wouldn’t make them play outside in the fresh air. I wouldn’t insist on them eating their vegetables but they could exist on a diet of chocolate if that’s what they wanted to do. I wouldn’t make them go to bed at a reasonable hour, I wouldn’t make them wear sensible shoes to school, and most of all, I would never ever tell them to turn down ‘that racket’.
Oh dear. Where did it all go wrong? Here I am now, insisting that small daughter doesn’t leave the table until she’s eaten all her sprouts (she loves sprouts so it’s no great hardship), telling the girls that they’ll get square eyes if they don’t turn the television off now and rolling my eyes at every suggestion that big daughter makes regarding fashionable but not at all sensible school shoes. I really am turning into my Mum. My teenage self would be horrified.
But then, I think about all the other things that my Mum did. She was an artist and would spend hours drawing pictures for me to colour in when I was small. She would take me for night time walks to spot bats and see how different the world is when the sun goes down. When I got older, she let me turn her kitchen into a bomb site as I toiled away over apple pies to enter into (and win first prize with!) at our village gardening show. She made all our bread, cakes and biscuits. She taught evening classes so that she was there for my brother and me when we came home from school. She supported my Dad when he was writing books and giving lectures, bashing away for hours on a typewriter in the kitchen to meet deadlines. She was the glue that held our family together.
As a teenager, of course, you don’t look at any of those things. Now, though, as I bake for my family, collect my girls from school, support my husband as his work takes long hours and do my best to be the strongest glue that I can be hold our family together, I wonder if it’s such a bad thing to be turning into my Mum. My daughters would disagree, I’m sure, but I hope that one day they’ll think differently.