“Oh my oh my!” I trill super over excited down the phone. “People coming to visit the house. Like now. Through my Facebook posts.”
“That’s wonderful,” the Mentalist is pleased to hear there is opportunity in the air for me. “I hope you get an offer.”
“Honestly?” I tell him after the guided tour I provided of our old home and office. “They seemed very interested. My sales pitch sucked. The house looks terrible. Empty and dirty and autumn.”
“Ok well get in there and clean it up,” the Mentalist scolds me very annoyed.
“Cleaner comes Monday,” I immediately relay the responsibility to make the place look attractive.
“Are they coming back to measure the rooms?” the Mentalist demands to know if this is worth discussing.
“Need someone for the garden,” I ponder as I remember the dreary look of my old garden clad in autumn attire. “They wanted to think about it. They want a pool.”
“Ask Rebecca,” the Mentalist remarks and it is true I have seen her post and re-share some gardening posts on social media. “She has a friend who is a professional gardener.”
“Great,” I like the idea instantly.
“Did you at least remove the shark from the pool?” the Mentalist mocks me tongue in cheek.
“There was a dead frog in it,” I remember as this is something we always discover when opening the pool after it has been closed for some time. There is always something floating around in there. Most often a frog who couldn’t get out anymore, or some poor little dormouse. “They wanted to see the house immediately. Called me at 15:30 and saw them at 16:15. I had no time to prepare.”
“Sounds good,” the Mentalist lies. And I realise now, much too late, that I should have kept them waiting at least a day. Build some suspense. And buy myself some time to get things presentable. “They must be in a hurry to spend their Christmas bonus.”
“New couple both with kids,” I tell him thinking my old house would be a perfect fit for them. “I think they are in a hurry to settle together.”
“Big Christmas bonus,” the Mentalist booms emphasising each single word.
“Like Wim and me when we bought the house,” I remember how desperate I was back then to find our happy nest and settle. Together. Or not together as things turned out. “Haha. We’ll see. Hope I hear from them back.”
“Did you get their details?” the Mentalist is checking how waterproof my plan really is.
“No,” I sigh realizing I really did do a poor job selling my property. “I have her on Facebook. My insurance broker referred the house.”
“That’s good,” the Mentalist tells me. “She can read your blog.”
“Haha yes,” I say as I remember our heated discussions on the house and if the price is right. Not sure I want potential buyers to be reading that. “Is that good?”
“Yes,” the Mentalist agrees but seems to be talking about our Mordecai blog instead. “I must write a new one. You write one too.”
“For the Mordecai blog?” I ask surprised. “What shall I write about?”
“The benefits of a routine for kids who are brought up in a political environment,” the Mentalist tells me. And I had been waiting for it actually yesterday to hear all the things I am doing wrong as a mother. I was sure that after his conversation with my au-pair, that I would hear what’s amiss in my household. And sure enough, here it comes.
“Am I politically correct?” I puzzle to grasp the meaning of that statement. “And what do you mean with politically correct?”
“Yes to a degree,” the Mentalist states boldly. I am curious to find out what he thinks I am doing wrong and why. I know I do my best to be a good mother and in doing so I often do the exact opposite of what I had seen at home myself as a child. I wouldn’t immediately term mine a disgusting childhood, but it definitely wasn’t peachy.
“What’s wrong with it?” I demand to know again. I thought this was the man who told me to forget about parenting articles and books written on how to bring up kids and to follow my natural motherly instincts instead.
“No spanking,” the Mentalist starts out. “Do what they like.”
“Well yes within limits,” I answer annoyed. I fail to see how this can be bad. I don’t agree with spanking my children. I do believe in sitting down and talking to them. As for doing what they like, I do let them explore and discover at their own rhythm and I ask their opinion on many decisions concerning them. On the other hand, I am the one who makes the final decision. So I just repeat more annoyed than ever: “Well yes.”
“Make decisions with little experience,” the Mentalist relentlessly throws my way. “Only eat what they like. Shout at mother.”
“No no no, not in my house,” I stop him straight in his tracks there. Yes, I believe it is a good idea to let children make their own decisions, again within certain boundaries. It helps them gain responsibility and to see the action-reaction and consequences of any decision they do make. I never force them to eat anything yet I insist they taste at least one bite from everything on their plate. They can then decide if they like it or not. As for shouting at mother, I hate to admit, but my puberescent brood is having a hard time dealing with their hormones and they do dare to shout at me. In most cases I try to remain calm and respond calmly trying to figure out what is upsetting the child instead of escalating the issue by shouting back at them. Shouting only makes me feel worse at the end of the day.
“Make a mess and not clean up,” the Mentalist just continues to tantalize me.
“They eat what’s on the table,” I retort. “Ah yes okay i have asked you before about shouting at me. They dont tidy up? They do. They take their plates from the table. Willem is only 2. Too young to tidy up his toys.”
I mean really, I am baffled at where this comes from. Each child is required to tidy up any mess they made or to help tidy up the toys of their baby brother at the end of the day. Nonsense, really.
“So how do you keep them safe?” the Mentalist demands to know. “On the straight and narrow? Healthy with the opportunity to express themselves?”
“They are safe at home and in their environment,” I point out that I have designed my entire life around making a safe haven for my children. To make sure they are surrounded with nurturing activities and supportive friends. To keep them healthy by feeding them fresh vegetables and not processed foods. “I talk a lot to them and tell them what is acceptable and what not.”
“Well see without a routine they would not tidy up,” the Mentalist answers in an attempt to cut me some slack. “So what did you do to train them?”
“They eat healthy and do sports,” I remind him. “The routine. You know I like a routine.”
“Make a blog,” the Mentalist urges me. “How many new mothers have no idea what to do.”
“They always know what is coming next,” I tell him how the routine plays an important part in my kids lives. It is good for them to know that after dinner they have some free play time. Then there is bath and shower time followed by some family play or TV. And after that is bed. And the next day will be the same with the same cues. “Okay maybe. I will just sound like a nagging control freak. But okay will write and send it to you.”
“See you know the subject well,” the Mentalist reminds me. In fact, this reminder will do me good in the darkness and crisis which is yet to come. I need to remember that in all that will go very wrong in only a couple of days from now, I am a good mother and I can create the safety and calm my kids need. “Suggest you write from the point of view, what is expected from a new father with regards to raising kids from the point of view he comes with his mother’s ideas. Write from a new mothers point of view.”
“About what’s expected from a father?” I ask in disbelief as that is the one ingredient which is missing in my perfect children’s home recipe. “Okay but mine have temp fathers.”
“Yes,” the Mentalist affirms with solid conviction. And I tell myself this is good to hear and important for me to remember. I am doing a good job. I am doing everything a mother possibly can for her young.
“I don’t think they really need one,” I tell him as I have the firm conviction that my two big kids would be better off with no fatherly influence than the example they are currently getting from him. “Although I know better. They definitely need a father.”
“Doesn’t matter,” the Mentalist stops me from going down that road. “You had standards.”
“I still do,” I correct him sternly. I wanted a father figure who would stand next to me. Who would play and joke around with the kids. Make their homework together and spur them to greatness. Who would growl : “don’t talk like that to your mother, she loves you dearly and moves heaven and earth for you kids.” I don’t have that. So I am doing it all by myself to my best ability.
“Ok so base it on that,” the Mentalist gives me a virtual nudge. Telling me I can in fact be a father too. After all, what does it mean to be a daddy? Just sit there in the sofa, do nothing but be present? Yes, I can do that too.
“Okay…” I trail off still trying to seize the deeper meaning of this all. But I will soon find out what all this is about. How the Mentalist knew this was coming, you might ascribe that to being attentive. How he knew it was imminently coming, that I ascribe to foresightedness like only the gifted seers have.
Darkness descends early during December, and despite glowing Christmas markets and hot mulled wine, it can feel very… bleak. Never fear! Defeat the winter doldrums and use simple methods to keep your emotions in check and maintain a bright outlook.