Jen Hogan: I really wish I could be more like F*ck-it Mum

Motherhood is rarely, if ever, celebrated among the achievements of revered women

‘I’m pretty sure the last time I managed a leisurely coffee with my husband was circa 1999.’ Illustration: iStock

‘I’m pretty sure the last time I managed a leisurely coffee with my husband was circa 1999.’ Illustration: iStock

 

There are days when I feel I’m living in an episode of Motherland.

If you haven’t seen Motherland yet (why not?), it’s a comedy, currently on Netflix, based on motherhood, well parenthood to be exact, but through the perspective of mothers and their tribes – and a stay-at-home dad.

And like many great comedies, much of the appeal is the relatability. We’ve all known someone like the main characters in the show: the one who always seems to be pregnant (ahem, cough, cough). The alpha mum who sets the tone and standards. The one who basically thinks “f*ck it”, and refuses to conform to the tone, standards, school gate norms or societal expectations of mothers. The one who is frazzled, tries to juggle it all but drops balls everywhere as she has an almost daily battle with childcare and the things that would come between her role as a mother and her career. The one who actually appears to have it all. And the dad.

I reckon lots of us, if we were really honest, would probably like to be F*ck-it Mum. But very few of us possibly feel free enough to be her. Because along the way, we’ve absorbed the message of what a mum in the 21st century truly should be, no matter how many times we’ve also been told that “having it all” is an impossible feat. Even when International Women’s Day comes around each year, motherhood rarely, if ever, is celebrated among the achievements of revered women, unless of course she’s managed to smash some glass ceilings, in spite of it.

Dashing to the primary school gates six times a day, last week, practically meeting myself coming back in the process, I found myself relating to the main character, Julia, most. Time was of the essence and the pressure of multiple drop-offs and pick-ups against a finely balanced work schedule was real.

I remembered the copies still weren’t covered. I really wish I could be more like F*ck-it mum

We have all manner of chats on the way to school, none of which are conducive to making my children move at the pace I need them to.

Sometimes, I’ll admit, those conversations can happen through gritted teeth thanks to the frustration of being late, having brought the wrong school bag with us, or an announcement, en route, that they were supposed to have their copies covered/ bring in something for show and tell/ or paid for something by that morning (delete as appropriate). Much of the other times it’s about random things. “Random” is possibly my children’s favourite word and perspective on life.

These days there’s lots of talk about Halloween – when we might put the decorations up and whether Mum could really go trick or treating with them dressed as Johnny from Cobra Kai. “You’ll have to do something with your voice,” one child informed me, “You don’t sound like him. But if you try to sound like him, people will think you’re a grown-up and they won’t give you any sweets,” he continued, perplexed at the thoughts. “You could walk on your knees so that you’re short like a kid,” another offered as a solution.

One particular morning, for no obvious reason, talk turned to careers. One is quite sure, having watched the Olympics this summer, that he’s going to get a job as a gymnast. He has never partaken in gymnastics in his life, but he figures he’s got this – once he learns how to do the splits that is. Another is not entirely sure but reckons it’s between a wrestler and a celebrity food taster because that pays €100.

A third decided to burst their bubble. “You might not get the job you want,” he informed his younger brothers knowledgeably, stopping the other two in their tracks in the process despite my hurried attempts to shoo them along. “What?” replied the would-be-one-hundred-euro-earning-celebrity-food-taster. “I mean look at Mum, she’s not a pilot,” the third continued. As a reluctant flyer, I can confirm taking control of a plane was absolutely never on the list of things I wanted to be when I grew up.

“And Dad isn’t a footballer,” the realist added.

“Yes, but he said that’s because he wasn’t in great shape,” the youngest replied.

We were late. I rushed home.

Later at pick-up I sat on the wall waiting for my son to come out, eavesdropping on conversations about spotless bathrooms, and leisurely coffee mornings with husbands before work. I’m pretty sure the last time I managed a leisurely coffee with my husband was circa 1999. Best not to even mention the bathrooms.

I remembered the copies still weren’t covered. I really wish I could be more like F*ck-it Mum.

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