Multiple Personality Mum
11th September 2015
This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, August 2015
Before I had my first child I read a squillion parenting books. They were not that useful for the reason that none of them were teaching me how to parent my specific child. The Book Of Peanut would have covered theatrical, emotional, hilarious daughters. I could really have used that book. But the Book Of Peanut would still not have helped me when number two and number three children came along.
Eight years into this parenting caper, I’ve realised that all my children have a different mother, because they all need different mothering from me.
Little Peanut has always been fiercely independent and sensitive to the social atmosphere around her. Yesterday I had to talk her through the process of cleaning the rotten banana out of the bottom of her schoolbag. I insisted that she do it herself, but from the theatrics, you would have thought that I’d requested she clean out the flue of a Victorian chimney.
It was a drama, yes, but it was also massively comedic, like her flamboyance always has been. Mothering Peanut has always meant helping her process and make sense of life - judging when to step in and when to step out. I’ve got better at it as the years have rolled by.
My 6 year old son T-Bone needs another kind of Mum. He’s always been a thinker, a bit of an eccentric. He’s so bright in fact that sometimes he’s like a big brain on a stick, not tuned into his body at all. He needs a lot of really physical mothering from me. As in, walking him through every step of getting dressed. As in ‘you’ve put your undies on over your pants again, darling’. As in, holding in the Mother Rage on a school morning.
The thing with an affectionate boy-child is that there is no gold in the world as precious as their cuddles. They are just glorious. And chances are I will have them for a long time – in fact, sometimes I imagine T-Bone on a podium in thirty years, accepting the Nobel Prize for physics. And there I am, doing his tie.
Pudding, three years old and my third child, is easy like a Sunday morning. She’s funny, chatty and up for anything. If the house is full of big girls, she’ll loom-band up a storm. If her brother has a friend over, she convinces them to play ‘My Two Dads’. (So modern!) With me, she’s my car-buddy, my shopping companion, and totally happy to watch re-runs of Friends over lunch. She is so easy to mother.
These days, I try to find time in the day to narrow in on each kid at some point. I p6lay Mums and Dads with Pudding, read the Treehouse books in a cuddle-puddle with T-Bone and play the ‘Walking Game’ with Peanut. This is our latest thing. She stands on the piano stool which makes her slightly taller than me, we put our arms around each other waists and pretend to stroll along, having a ‘grown-up’ chat. ‘Hey, let’s go see a movie! What shall we see? Mad Max? You can buy the coffee, I’ll drive…’ For independent little Peanut, pretending she is eighteen and hanging out with Mum is as good as it gets.
There’s still ten years till we get there though. It’s a long game, this learning to be a Mum. I feel really privileged to get to play it.
PS - Winners of the book giveaway announced on this post: Anxiety and the Post-Baby Conversation.