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Mothers around the Bench

I have a lovely Mum. Alot of my commonsense parenting I learnt from her. She was a nurse, and anyone who had a nurse for a mother will know that the answer to every ailment was to have an apple, a poo or ‘go to school and just get on with it’. Unless there was a bone sticking out of skin or copious amounts of blood or vomit, sympathy was in short supply. It was a pretty good strategy and made for a near perfect school attendance record. I used a similar strategy for my kids, with similar results. Mum softened as we got older, and, along with her commonsense, is the most caring, loving and sympathetic Mum and Oma to my kids.


Much of my other parenting was gleaned from my girlfriends. When the kids were alot younger, on Friday afternoons a group of us would gather around my kitchen bench to drink champagne and eat Cheezels, and have a laugh and a moan about whatever was going on that week (it became known as ‘Bench’, as in ‘who’s coming to Bench today?’). Often the conversation would turn to our kids, and how we were struggling with getting them to do their homework, make friends, get off screens, help around the house - all the usual kid angst. While we were inside worrying about them, they were running amok in the backyard, chucking bombies in the pool, making little (sometimes big) bonfires, lighting sparklers, playing dress up, getting filthy, and periodically sending in the youngest and cutest to garner snacks for the group. Basically, it was low grade anarchy. They had a ball. And I laugh now at how much we worried about them, when what we were giving them was exactly what they needed. ‘Good enough’ parenting in the form of benign neglect. They needed the break from our constant hovering, and relished the freedom as much as we did.


Alot of what I learnt about mothering was forged in those hours of solidarity around the bench. Much of the time it wasn’t about providing a solution to a problem, it was simply ’I feel like that too’ and ‘you are doing such a great job’ and many, many times ‘they will be just fine, they know you love them’. We supported each other, and when the kids would run into the kitchen to grab the last handful of Cheezels and try and sneak a listen, they would get a quick hug, more snacks and sent back out to their own little tribe. The kids loved it so much that a few of them even requested ‘Bench’ for their own birthday parties as they got older. We were so proud!

It is my Mum and girlfriends who remind me over and over that there is no such thing as the perfect mother. They show me that being good enough is more than enough. They remind me that our kids are their own little people, with quirks that will delight and irritate, often in equal measure. They remind me that love and support is everything. I am so grateful, so lucky to have them.


Whatever your experience of being a mother is - whether to children, noisy dogs, crazy cats, or a tribe of nieces and nephews - I send you love and support. You are doing a magnificent job. Wishing you a relaxing, heartfelt Mothers Day on Sunday.


Champagne and Cheezels are optional :)


With love,

Amanda xx


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