Monday, 19 November 2012

Neurotic mothers

I doubt I am alone in being a neurotic mother, but I felt I had to confess, because my babies are now grown-ups, so it's not like I can do something simple like going to check they're still breathing in the dead of night, or ensure they're strapped in their car seat or not going to choke on a rogue piece of carrot. These days I really have no control over them so potential disaster is waiting round every corner, on every car/plane/train/bus/bicycle journey. I have imagined every worst case scenario from being kidnapped by bandits in Guatamala to being eaten by sharks while diving, to being murdered whilst driving round the countryside lost. You name it, I've had it. If only I could keep them safe at home, wrapped in cotton wool and dictate what they can and can't do. Like today, for instance, I'd suggest staying inside because of the danger of falling trees (it's very very windy). I KNOW it's not right for a mother to lead their child's life for them, but I can't help it. Wendy Mogul in her very sensible book (though slightly too religious) book 'The Blessing of a Skinned Knee', says: 'The current trend in parenting is to shield children from emotional or physical discomfort. I can't blame parents for reacting with horror to nightly news reports about our violent, dangerous society, but many of them overprotect their sons and daughters. They don't give them the chance to manoeuver on their own outside of home or school.' Well, I do actually give them the chance, and, on the whole, they do it successfully, but it's ME that suffers. I wake at 3am thinking I've had a premonition, that my dream of a giant wave is actually a sign that my son, who is due to take a ferry to Ireland in a few days, will be swept overboard, or the whole thing will roll over and he will drown. And this isn't unusual, every day something happens which convinces me my children are lying there, dying slowly and painfully and I'm not there to help them. I got a phone call from one of my sons the other day. In the background was a curious intermitent beeping. 'Oh my God, are you in hospital,' was my immediate (slightly over dramatic) reaction, sadly spoken aloud. 'No Mother,' came the slightly disdainful reply, 'I'm in the supermarket.' Oops. That was a bit of a give away.

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