Are we on Speed?

Speed is a relative notion – just ask the hare and the tortoise.

Last week, when my mum came to stay, she took half an hour to make a tuna sandwich. I was incandescent with impatience. In the time it took her to butter two slices of bread, open a tin, spread some mayo and slam it all together (although in fairness, she would never slam, but gently place together – herein lies the beginnings of our differences methinks), I had fed the baby, detached screaming toddler from self-imposed prison under the dining room chair, prepared our dinner, read half the paper, watched the news headlines, put the babes to bed and sent two text messages. I was about to start hoovering the house in a fit of agitated pique when the plate finally arrived at my table.

It certainly looked the same as mine would have. It didn’t seem to taste any different than the ones I make. But there it was in all its glory – the Half Hour Tuna Delight.

And so began one of those mother daughter debates (you can use other words here such as arguement, rant or fight, but for the purposes of diplomatic relations, I’m sticking with debate). She says I do everything too fast – I eat too fast, I talk too fast, I walk too fast, I drive too fast. I even, god forbid, get ready in the morning too fast! Of course I splutter my indignation at such suggestions – doesn’t she understand I have so much to do? If I don’t do everything at warp speed I’ll fail as a mother, loose my husband and the house will disintegrate around our very ears. As for the children, how else am I to get through the day with two little monkeys if I don’t move at Olympic pace?

She gives me that look. You know the one. The look that says, Oh please. You think you have it hard now? Try doing all that – but with none of the time saving devices you have – I had no washing machine, no tumble dryer, no microwave oven, no steriliser, no disposable nappies, no car! And by the way, how did I produce such a drama queen?

It’s amazing how much one’s mother can say with one slightly raised eyebrow.

Naturally I poo pood her with that condascending tone that we reserve for our mothers, something along the lines of ‘in your day you didn’t have half the pressures we modern mums do’ and raced off to hang the washing out in 1 minute flat.

But between you and me, I think she’s right. I barely finish one task before my mind has moved on to the next. My children must wonder who the mad woman is who attacks them with a facecloth every morning before ramming a toothbrush into their mouth, swirling it around and yaking at them to ‘spit’ before they’ve swallowed their last bite of breakfast. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually walked down my front path to the car – I’m usually just a blur of movement with a baby under one arm and 14 bags hanging off the other, shouting at my toddler to hurry up.

So it’s a bit late being February and all. But here’s my New Year’s Resolution. Chew my food. Walk down my path. Let my kids finish their breakfast. I’m not sure I can stretch my tuna sandwich making skills to half an hour, but I’m going to give it a damn good try.

(Published in March/April 2008 issue of Infant & Maternity Magazine)
(c) AKG 2008

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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