My latest book, At My Door, is partly about being a mum. And the different kinds of mums out there. In the book we get glimpses of two mums, though one we never actually meet – Mei’s mum. Mei, a toddler, is left at the front door of Poppy’s house one night. Mei’s mum is somewhere off-stage, dealing with her demons.
As a mum of two healthy kids, living in a two-parent household, families have always fascinated me. Especially the range and number of roles parents are required to step up to, whether or not they have the requisite experience or skills or support.
There is cooking for, playing with and communicating with our children. There is conflict resolution, guiding friendships, helping with schoolwork, supporting hobbies, providing and maintaining a safe home for our children, choosing after-school activities (or not), then delivering and collecting the children to and from these. There is raising the money for these things.
Usually all of these tasks are done each day. Along with shopping for food, cleaning up after meals, overseeing showers, tooth- and hair-brushing, washing clothes, hanging out wet clothes and bringing in dry clothes, then sorting and returning these to the correct rooms (and yes some of these jobs can and should be done by the kids but often they are not and then more conflict resolution is required), and so on and so forth.
It is hard work. Some of it is woefully boring and it is quite often thankless. Some of it is confusing and worrying.
And then there is the mum – the off-stage mum, who we have trouble looking at straight-on – who has extra stuff. She might be without work, or without sufficient income to pay for all the household bills. She might be at war internally, with mental health problems. She might be fighting an addiction, or have given up this fight, given in to the relentless urges.
I just cannot imagine how hard this extra stuff makes a mum’s life. But I do know how hard it is just trying to be a good mum. It’s by turns exhausting and energising. And I think it’s okay to share some of this with our kids. So if you have a chance, check out At My Door. I’d love to know what you think.