Can You Hear The Drums, Fernando?

Poor old Fernando Torres. As die-hard Chelsea fans we could be forgiven for being a little…disgruntled…at his goal tally to humongous price tag ratio. But as a mother, I can feel great sympathy with his situation: a combination of insane pressure to perform from those that pay his salary; an increasing psychological barrier to performance manifested in a huge loss of self-confidence; and, the outside world – that bastion of armchair experts – with their opinions on everything about him from his choice of hair clips to his ball skills and even, sometimes, whether he’s a good kisser. (He is, so it would seem but Tevez is not. No surprises there.)

Parallels can be drawn with Tozzer’s Footius Horribilus. As mothers, we are expected to meet every parenting challenge wearing our natty pink-dotted “Perfect Parent” onesie, despite the fact that inside we are still 14 years old, scared, confused and unsure what to do with these balls of demanding flesh produced from our own interiors. We are supposed to cope with everything life with babies and kids can throw at us and are not supposed to get it wrong – there are children at stake here!

But I do slip up – often – and regularly fail to be a perfect parent or even a slightly lame one. It could be something huge like losing my rag with Whingey Teen Pig’s catatonic earphone-clad, Blackberry-toting state. Pea-hen screeched threats of boarding school, borstal or permanent adoption by people resident in Belgium are not an advert for good mothering. Or minor things, such as neglecting to give the sufficient time and effort required to chopping the smallest Pig’s mushrooms for his spag bol so microscopically small that they are undetectable to the human eye. Lumpy mushrooms = Bad Mum.

This week has been a particularly torrid Torres-esque week of mothering. Not in an earth-shattering, life-limiting way, but you know me by now – miniscule dramas are my life. Simply consumed entirely by the search for the perfect prom dress, talking about prom dresses, applying for prom tickets, attacking me with dress print-outs, hair up-dos and shoe price tags the minute I open a sticky eyelid in the morning and so on, and so on. You get the picture. Poxy prom! I’m sick of it already and it’s not until May. When I grumbled slightly at such intense subject focus and claimed immunity from shopping, online or otherwise, on the grounds I don’t really give a stuff, I was growled at, screamed at and ignored. Phrases such as “For God’s sake, all my other friends’ mums are interested – what’s wrong with you?” were muttered incoherently from behind a sneering top lip and the iPad where yet another site is being researched.

Alongside this, the Boy Wonder was having a little crisis of confidence of his own. Having always been challenged in the height department, he’s currently feeling it acutely as his compadres go through a sustained growth spurt that we know he has to wait at least 6-12 months for – the pattern of his growth to date. He blames this “growth lag” for his presence on the subs bench at footy for the past few weeks where tough games have, ostensibly, required greater physical size and “strength” than he would appear to offer in his somewhat smaller package. Now, as a perfect parent I should boost his self-esteem with chats about strength of character, showing skills count as much as size, growing his desire to win, and rising above one’s physical limitations (see what I did there?). As the rubbish slack Mum I actually am, I’ve let him talk me into Maximuscle whey powder milkshakes which he is convinced are going to transform him into Sussex’s very own Charles Atlas. Fingers crossed he grows all over, and doesn’t just sprout a massive earlobe or an unfeasibly long big toe.

Whenever such challenges arise, I know I am supposed to grasp them in a smooth nettle-like manner and not allow parental perfection to slip through my Mum-fumbling grasp. Rarely happens and I usually upset someone, ruin something or bury my head in the woodpile until it all goes away. Result? I leak self-confidence. First in myself and then in motherhood itself. It oozes from my pores and evaporates into thin air. “Who do I think I am kidding?” says my inner Slacker. “I can’t do this job for the rest of my life – it’s full-on, constant pressure to perform while being watched by unsympathetic bystanders.” The world views mothering as natural and we women that enter into it as perfectly suited and up to the task. Crap. Crap. And more crap. I find it really hard work sometimes on top of a full-time job which, given the Texan boss’s inability to deal with a single minute issue, is tantamount to double-parenting: work as well as home.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore my children more than life itself – the loving them part is easy peasy. I walk it and gain enormous pleasure from giving that love and receiving it back, albeit in a haphazard fashion linked to my overall mothering performance. But mothering – the job – that’s not easy at all. What other job consumes a person so entirely 24 hours a day forever without monetary or seemingly any other gain or upward momentum? In modern society, such servitude is illegal, surely? And where is the end goal? The pinnacle to aim for? You think once you’ve managed the standard set tasks: getting them to pee in the loo and not in the corners of the rooms or on each other; eating without showing everyone what’s in their mouths, etc.; that you’ve “achieved” something. That you are now, officially, a parent. Not true. There’s always another hurdle to overcome; another parenting conundrum to solve; another way you can screw things up without even trying. Almost 17 years into it, I’m still waiting to score a sweet, perfect parenting goal!

So, Fernando, I see your dilemma. I feel your pain. To some, it’s only scoring that goal – an insignificant elusive little goal. In my case, it’s remembering to include a vegetable in the kids’ meals at some point during the week and not send them to school with pink-dyed shirts. Minor in the big scheme of the world but not achieving these seemingly simple things is enormously pressured and smarts like a smacked arse. We both know that our respective jobs just aren’t that easy. Ask your Mum – she’s bound to know, isn’t she??


Posted on March 16, 2012, in Family Life, Sport, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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