I looked at the Mt Everest  pile of never ending washing. One basket, full of dirty clothes, two baskets full of clean clothes waiting to be folded and one that was still going on in the washing machine. I have come to the conclusion that there are three things in life that are certain : death, taxes and washing. There is always washing to be done.  Sometimes you don’t know when one cycle starts and the other ends, everything becomes a blur unto itself, just like your life.

When did one load become two? When did one decision become another? When did one mistake become another? When did boyfriend become husband? When did one child become two?

When did a 14 year old become a mother, in charge of little human beings and washing, so much washing?

I swear it was just yesterday I was turning 14 years old, going to town for the first time, catching the public bus. I was so excited and nervous. I had my shoulder pads, big permed Lion hairstyle styled after Limahl and Boy George, dressed to the nines in a denim vest studded with buttons of bands I watched religiously on Top of the Pops and of course, my pink leg warmers and two watches on my right hand.

My mother stood over me, telling me for the thousandth time “not to talk to strangers”, “to stay together” and “not to go off anywhere by myself.” I was sure that this first trip would transform me immediately into a young adult, my first time away from adult supervision, from the grips of my mom. I had a wonderful time, of course, I did. Everyone showed up and we hung out by having Cokes at MacDonald’s and being eyeballed at Guess and Benetton. I missed the bus home but another soon turned up.

But I did it, I made it to 14.

I kicked off my shoes and I took a long hot shower and changed into my jammies for bed. As I closed my eyes, I felt someone gently shake me.

I opened my eyes and I watched the midwife placed a squashed up bowling ball on my chest and declared, “There you are, Mummy!”

Me, a Mummy?

Wha..what? How did that happen?

Hang on, I am still 14 years old. It must be all the sugar from overdosing from all that Coca Cola.

I can’t be a mother because I still did the things I did when I was 14 years old.

I still eat Nutella straight from a jar.

I still listen to rock music too loudly.

I still watch too much Television.

I still read when I am supposed to be in bed.

I giggle and laugh with my girlfriends about making our husbands jealous with our worship of Ian Somerhandler or Chris Hemsworth.

I still eat too much junk food.

I still hide my chocolates.

I still enjoy corny jokes.

I still laugh too loud.

I still cry too much.

I still want to save all the animals we see on the street.

And I still hate crusts on my bread.

So how did I become the Mom now when I had just returned from that first shopping trip on my own?

Who the hell put a 14 year old in charge of my children?

Days when I forget that it’s dress up day, when I forget to sign the permission slip or when I look at the mountain of laundry and no one has clean knickers in their drawers, I quickly blame that 14 year old girl!

“Who the hell made you in charge? Come on, grow up or get out!” I shouted at the 14 year old girl, “You’re a mother, for goodness sake, better grow up and start acting like one!”

And she ignored me, like the typical 80s’ teenager she was.

So I became angry at the 14 year old. I crashed into my room and I blasted my favourite Guns And Roses song, “Sweet Child of Mine” out loud to drown out her cries. My eldest child came in like he usually did when I am playing Guns And Roses and we both sing along to what has become one of his favourite songs too. He laughed at my off key rendition but I still sing anyway because that’s what our days together are like nowadays.

After the song, I felt peckish and I marched to the kitchen and decide to love some Nutella . My youngest child came along as he does when he hears me opening that Nutella jar. We both made our favourite Nutella sandwiches without any crust together. I cut the crusts and he spreads. We then shared the sandwich as I listened to him tell me absolutely corny Poo Poo jokes which made me laugh so much I have a belly ache. The days with my youngest that has melted into one corny joke into another.

The second child then yelled at me to come along and watch our favourite television show. That afternoon, we discussed excitedly about why Scott McCall must be the worst Alpha Werewolf ever in the hit television show “Teen Wolf”. We both smiled wickedly at each other as we say “One more Netflix episode” when we both knew we have watched one too many already. Two peas in a pod, we were as we laughed over our shared secret addiction.

For a brief second, I saw the 14 year old again, over there, at the corner of my eye, in her big puffy gelled up lion hair style, her pink leg warmers and those damn shoulder pads, her hand on the door, ready to leave, her hands gripping those coins, taking her first step, her eyes red and her face miserable. She did hear me afterall.

“No!” I called out, “Don’t go.”

She looked up at me, startled and surprised but she remained silent.

“Thank you!” I said to her for being who she is and in making things right again.

She sometimes made me a worse mom but I had forgotten that sometimes she made me a better mom as well.

My children, bless their little cotton socks, have and will never know a life without her being in charge. She forgets the lunch money, the library books or she can’t be arsed to make the Book Week costume but she gives them the crazy Nutella bake off parties, the movie camp out nights in the living room and she is the only known person who can defend little children against monsters who live under the bed.

My children wouldn’t have it any other way because they have always loved her.

“Please say something!” I begged.

“Take a chill pill! You are soooooooo like sooooooo ancient now. Like Oh My God. Like Totally. Sleeping at 9.30pm on a Saturday night? Totally bogus. Eating salad? So Gross. Yelling at the kids, “Do it because I say so!” God, you sound so like Mom, ” she signed as she shook her head, “But one rad thing you did – those kids! They are like totally bad,  like totally, yes, definitely, like these shoulder pads and leg warmers.”

I smiled.

Yep, she’s me all right and it looks like she and her damn shoulder pads and leg warmers weren’t going anywhere.

© ELT 2016. All rights reserved


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