Facebook's "Motherhood Challenge" which has hit in the last week or so has caused some controversy. The challenge (and it strikes me that it is not particularly challenging at all) is to post three photos which show how you are proud to be a mum and then you "challenge" other women whom you think are great mothers to do the same. It will probably not come as any great surprise to you that I have not been tagged or "challenged". This could be for two reasons: firstly, perhaps there are others like me who find this particular "challenge" rather uncomfortable and a tad on the smug side or secondly, and admittedly more likely, the sobriquet of "great mother" is not something which immediately leaps into the minds of my friends when they think of me...
Another "mother" quiz which has been doing the rounds on Facebook this week has entertained me far more and is considerably more revealing than the "Motherhood Challenge". This quiz is a series of questions to ask your children about you which they answer frankly and without any input from you. I thought I would share with you a few of my children's (ages 6 and 9) answers which have ensured that any tendencies to regard myself as a paragon of motherly virtue have been well and truly erased.
First up: "What is something I always say to you?" I noticed from others' responses on Facebook that a common reply from their children was "I love you". Not mine. Both said the same thing. "Go to bed". This is both heartening and depressing in equal measure. Heartening because I was starting to think that my children had hearing issues as they never indicate that they have heard me when I say "go to bed", so at least I now know that they are hearing perfectly well but just choosing to ignore me. Depressing because they are right - I do say "go to bed" with a monotonous regularity and to no avail.
My depression was compounded with the question "How do I make you laugh?". My son (age 9) after a long silence asked if we could come back to that question. Not the resounding "you're such a comedian, mum" that I had been hoping for I admit. When pushed, he offered the rather lame and dubious," when you tell us jokes". This does not ring true. Why? I don't tell jokes. I can never remember punchlines and this has been a problem I have battled for the past 40 years, living in terror of someone asking me to tell a joke. In this instance I have to revert to the first joke I ever heard (a particularly weak Dr Who knock knock joke) as it is the only one for which I can be sure of remembering the punchline.
Up next, "What makes me sad?" My son in a classic mix-up of his metaphors answered this, "when we treat you like a piece of dust". Yes, dust. The irony of his answer is that in my house, being treated like a piece of dust would be a pleasure. Dust is left alone, not bothered by anyone and allowed to lie around in peace wherever it likes. This is something which would make me quite the opposite of sad. In fact, I'd go as far as to say, to be treated like dust would make me deliriously happy.
A series of questions follow which I have to admit made me a little nervous: "What makes me happy?" "What is my favourite thing to do?" "What do I do when you're not here?" Any or all of these questions I feared would be answered by at least one if not both children with the answer "drinking wine" and I would be forced to face up to my functioning alcoholism. I was pleasantly surprised as no mention of wine at all. Apparently according to my children, watching TV makes me happy and is my favourite thing to do and shopping is what I do when they are not here. I am not convinced that this is painting an altogether attractive picture of me and for the record, I never watch daytime TV. However, I'll go with it as a fairly harmless answer considering what they could have said.
Finally, they were asked, "What do I do for a job?" (other than shop and watch TV presumably). Apparently, according to them, I look after them (hurray they noticed) and I clean. The latter is not strictly accurate - I refer you back to my previous comments about dust. However, some recognition that I do a lot for them is more than I expected or dared to hope for.
So how did I do? Well, I don't think I quite meet the dizzying heights required to be labelled a "great mother" as demanded by the "Motherhood Challenge" but I didn't do too badly and let's remember there was no mention of wine - a small but important victory.