When I'm a good mother, I'm good. Very good.
When I'm a bad mother, though, I'm horrid.
On Sunday night, I was totally horrid.
We were travelling home from a big family reunion in Melbourne. It had been a super delightful day, and it was late and we were all tired and grumpy. I was reading aloud as we travelled. As usual. Only for some perverse reason, explainable only perhaps by the fact that we had been drinking Chandon since noon, I wasn't reading one of the nice storybooks that we have on the go right now - not At the Back of the North Wind nor Spiderweb for Two nor The Jungle Book even. No, for some reason I was reading from Trial and Triumph. About Gustavus Adolphus and The Battle of Breitenfeld. Plus, I was expecting a narration. Of Jemimah's normal excellent standard and no lower. With all proper names.
Which, of course she failed to deliver.
And I was horrid.
Really, totally horrid.
Eventually, after I'd been horrid for quite a while, my beloved, who had been sitting silent in the driver's seat suggested that perhaps I'd been horrid quite long enough and that really I was probably not achieving anything too positive, now, was I?
At which point I was horrid to him as well. At least I wasn't expecting him to narrate though.
Then I sulked petulantly. Uncharacteristic of me, sulking, but that's what I did. Sulked.
Eventually, finally, we arrived home. A quick dinner of something totally unacceptable, like baked beans, I think, and it was into bed for Miss Eight. It was about ten o'clock.
And this is when I finally did something good.
Despite the lateness of the hour I reached for her storybook, and we read a chapter. Then another. No narrations. Then we cuddled for a bit in the dark. Like usual. Like when I'm being good mother.
Next morning I felt pretty horrid. Only this time I wasn't feeling horrid toward my daughter. This time I was feeling horrid about myself.
I went and apologised. I even asked her to forgive me.
And this is what my wise little girl said:
- You know how you're not supposed to let the sun go down on your anger, Mummy?And then I felt about two inches tall. I didn't feel like a very good mother at all. And I still felt horrid.
- Yes... (guiltily, and knowing that the admonition was deserved and that that was exactly what I'd done)
- Well, I don't think that that is true when you read stories at night.
- Well, when you read together at bedtime and then huggle and cuggle together, then you just know you're loved and that you're forgiven. You don't need to apologise anymore. It's all okay.
But I felt incredibly proud of my wise little girl.