Monday afternoon, picked kids up from school and quickly popped into the Delhaize supermarket for some light shopping. And who do I bump into but Dorothy. Always happy to see a friendly face. Though Dorothy seems out of sorts.
“Hi sweetheart!” I chirp. “How’s your painting going?”
“Good.” Dorothy answers shortly. “Good.”
“Who’s bedroom are you painting?” I’m trying hard to remember what she told me, and also to show that I do pay attention to what she tells me. I do know I have a tendency to have a bit of a fish brain.
“My own,” is all Dorothy replies.
By now I am racking my brains what on earth I have missed or if I have any hint of what might be upsetting Dorothy, so I rattle on: “Was wondering what the problem is with me and Wim not living together?”
“What do you mean?” Dorothy asks calmly, eyeing the contents of a bio box of biscuits as we speak.
“I say I like my freedom, my week alone, my quality time because it helps me accept how it is,” I think out loud. “Or should I be whining why Wim won’t live with me?”
“This is yours and Wim’s choice,” Dorothy replies boredly as she turns into the next aisle. “You are tied to Wim no matter what. He is not able to live in Keerbergen and you won’t move to Mechelen. So it is what it is.”
“Also I am humbled,” I go for a little drama now. “Winston’s behaviour can be bettered by serving him meat, and by cuddling and kissing him more. Here’s me blaming David, when I was the one who needed to make a change.”
Dorothy pauses to eye me up. So I laugh and I add : “Men have steak and blow job day. Little boys have meat and cuddles. So simple.”
I don’t know what I said wrong, but this is where Dorothy just explodes at me: “Fiona I don’t know what you are going on about. I am sure you are right. Your comments about Winston needing meat and hugs worries me. Do you not have any maternal feelings at all? Is it very difficult to figure out how to be a mother? Read some books. I know your mother is not a role model but even still there is no right or wrong in raising kids. Just abuse or being politically correct, or doing what others tell you or doing what you think others are judging you for. All the above take away your relationship with your kids. You just need to be maternal and protect them from what you consider dangerous for them. If David falls into this category then tell him he is doing a bad job and why and then tell him how he can improve. It’s simple. All the rest is like a child seeking attention.”
I am just standing there in the middle of the Delhaize supermarket in shock. Looking around who might have heard and if we’re drawing too much attention. I am feeling so humiliated right now. Just want to get out of the shop asap. Humiliated and furious at Dorothy. Why is she so snappy?
“Mmmm thanks. Really helpful and a touch hurtful,” I tell her under my breath. “I don’t know why I turn to you for advice. But if you think I’m attention seeking…”
I’m really angry and my breathing is getting rather heavy. I am desperately looking for words as blood rushes to my head. I can feel my cheeks burning.
“Okay,” I blow out. “Sorry to bother you. Motherhood didn’t come with a manual.”
I’m about to storm out of the shop when Dorothy gently takes me by the elbow down the next aisle and continues in a softer tone this time : “That’s right, it didn’t and everyone has managed for hundred thousand years already. If you want advice ask questions that mean something. Or that you really need to know. Feeding your son and loving him should come natural to you. If it doesn’t then you are in trouble.”
“He has a warm meal at school,” I answer all defensively. “I thought that was enough meat on a weekday. And as for loving him, I do. And no I didn’t get this example.”
“It can be enough,” Dorothy says thoughtfully. “Belgians have a very weird way of eating.”
“My kids do get hugs and I didn’t,” I go on to demonstrate my hurt feelings. “I don’t go around screaming at my kids that I will kill them. I don’t hit them with sticks. I don’t degrade them.”
“If you don’t, discuss that with Wim.” Dorothy says with a weird grin on her face.
“Discuss what with Wim?” I want to know. Uh-oh, she thinks I’m not getting enough physical attention, I think.
I was about to put that record straight when Dorothy continues: “My personal opinion is David is not sane enough to look after kids.”
We’ve discussed this so many times over the last years till I was blue in the face, so I respond with a heartfelt silence. It’s just so frustrating when people don’t completely get your kind of crazy. My kind of crazy anyway.
What do you think? Which motherhood mistakes have you made? Let me know in the comments below.