When Mothers and Teenagers Don't Mix!

Today I have cleaned 51 window panes with pure elbow grease; cleaned ten mirrors; cleaned four toilets; cleaned three basins; scrubbed the shower; polished all the wooden kitchen surfaces as well as the kitchen table; polished the banisters; polished two chairs, one bed and two other pieces of furniture; thoroughly hoovered a landing and two other rooms; shaken out four rugs; put two washes through the machine and dryer; folded laundry; emptied and reloaded the dishwasher; washed up pans; emptied every waste bin in the house and extracted the recycling; disinfected the main kitchen bin; fed the animals twice; walked the dog; conversed and made hot drinks twice with the tree surgeons; attended to sick husband; cleaned Aga (twice); made porridge and tea for sick husband and youngest daughter; made lunch; made supper from scratch (a stir fry as a special treat for youngest daughter who's always asking for it); made two phone calls to fix domestic problems; called my mother lengthily to make sure she was ok and catch up on her and our news; finally set up my new iPhone (have had it since July and been existing on a smashed up old one); cleared out a basket of old make-up dating from when I was working in London in my 20s (!); cleared out a drawer of out-of-date medical stuff (some of it 20 years old!); messaged friends over various arrangements; pruned a couple of olive bushes; brought the bins back in from the roadside; picked up dog poo in the garden; re-stacked the logs in the potting shed and brought in a big basket of logs for the burner; partially unpacked my suitcase from the last holiday; wiped dirty marks off numerous doors and kitchen cupboards; cleaned a set of shutters in the bathroom (half an hour of my life I'll never get back); sorted stuff for charity; took youngest and only remaining daughter to school bus; picked up youngest and only remaining daughter from Whaley Bridge following a school event she was involved in; spent 45 minutes trying to mend two lamps and failing; laid table and lit candles to make nice ambience for above-mentioned stir fry; kept half an eye on the TV news.

Just before serving the stir fry I felt happy and content with my lot. We sat down and I made the mistake of telling my daughter she should take off her extraordinarily chipped and grown out red nail varnish which I wish I'd noticed ahead of this evening where, as a prefect, she was hosting prospective new sixth formers at a welcome evening. While I'm not a stranger to having unsightly nails myself, I felt it was perfectly within my motherly rights to suggest that she spends five minutes taking it off tonight before going to bed. I suppose it's a matter of self-respect and personal standards. Just a mother training her cub. Nothing more. Oh how I wish I hadn't tried to do my job! The tirade that followed about how she still had vocab to learn for Spanish and that she didn't possibly have time to take the nail varnish off was off the scale of unreasonable. And disrespectful. And darn right rude. I tried to stand my ground, mentioning how I've also done my time at school and university, and all I got was the usual back-chat and counter-argument with the knock-out blow being 'I've been at school all day while you've just been at home doing nothing'. The nice mealtime was ruined. My quiet fury knew no bounds. Read the above paragraph - I rest my case.

Motherhood can be the most rewarding of jobs - and also the most disheartening. Never paid a penny; given all personal ambitions up for the good of the family. Dear God. Why do we bother?

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