If there is such a thing as the perfect family it would surely be headed by the perfect 'Yummy Mummy' type, right?
In that case there I am, the 'Stay-At-Home-Yummy-Mummy' perfectly coiffed and highly polished; floating around all day long, drinking copious cups of tea or 'doing lunch' with all my yummy mummy friends. Before we head off in our super-shiny vehicles to go collect the 'brats' from school. I would then just leave my 'brat' to his own devices until dinner time. If he wants a snack he knows where the fridge is, I have better things to do. Like to sit down with another cup of tea and watch the 'Today' afternoon chat show on Irish TV.
Of course, that would be in an alternative universe - similar to the one depicted by 'she-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned' and who appeared on another Irish chat show last night i.e. The Late Late Show.
Meanwhile in the real world I run around all day long in my tracksuit, doing only the necessary housework I will admit along with some grocery shopping, gym-going, patient visiting, pet minding, phone-call making, prescription collection, shirt ironing..... and all the other jobs that the SAHM (or dad) only can do as no-one else has the time. Yes there is the odd coffee morning or lunch date (thank GOD!) Yes I drop my son the short distance to the bus stop at 7.40 am in my pyjamas - over which I throw on my longest coat and never get out of the car. If I drive him all the way to school I dress appropriately.... and so what if I didn't! And yes, I do watch the Today chat show..... after I've made my son his snack and while I'm also simultaneously preparing dinner, ironing and relentlessly shouting 'do your homework' up the stairs! Plus also trying to stop the cat from eating the budgie or from getting her paws into the fish tank!
Yvonne Hogan was on one of the Today shows I was recently viewing discussing 'only children' and the opinions some people have on one-child families. She talked about a book 'One And Only' by Lauren Sandler who came across some disturbing judgments based on small case studies in her research. Yvonne was non-judgmental herself and pointed out that she could find no definitive negative research on the effects of being an only child. In fact she came across one study that showed that only children - and the eldest child in a family - can fare better academically, presumably as the parents (or the SAHM!!) has more time to give to them (her words). Of course children with siblings benefit in ways that the only child may not. She chatted to some random people on the street and I was a little taken aback that only two of them pointed out that it may not be through choice that a child is an only child.
Having only one child myself I have to admit to not giving any thought to what others think of our status until watching that programme. I really shouldn't be but I am dumbfounded that there are people out there judging me for that. Just as they are judging me for being an SAHM.
Frankly it's nobody's business why my boy or any other child is an only child, just as it's none of my business how many children other mums have or whether or not they work outside the home.
Personally speaking I don't think being an only child is the end of the world. The concerns mainly centre around sharing and sibling companionship. And they have concerned me too but as his parent it is incumbent on me to find ways to compensate. That's what the endless toddler groups, play dates and rounds of extra curricular activities were all about. He has learned how to share, how to make friends, how to ensure his friends actually want to play what he wants to play and (most importantly - I'm not a bank!) how to save his pocket money to buy his own console games.
There is no guarantee, or written law, that siblings will be compatible you know! I was an only child too, well for 6 years until my baby brother arrived. Luckily I loved having a sibling and age gap aside we got on well as kids and I am very glad for his companionship now as adults. Especially with an ailing, elderly parent.
And that is one thing that worries me for my only child. But things can be put in place for the future too.
Now, I am not judging 'she-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned' above but I do wonder what it is she does for a living - I refuse to give her the google hits to find out. She must do something as she can't possibly be a 'full time mummy'. If, as I suspect, her 'Celebrity- Seeking Gobbyness' is her 'job' then I much prefer mine,even though it pays considerably less :-) I will agree with her on one thing though. I too don't like the term 'full time mummy' for it implies that mums that work outside the home are 'part-time mummys' and that is just not fair and is divisive.
You know, us women have enough to contend with without criticising each others decisions, sometimes made out of necessity rather than by choice.
There was another guest on after her on last night's Late Late Show. A person with a real life story to tell. A person who was thought to have been born a man but found out much later in life (because he just couldn't deal with the changes in his/her body) that he was actually born a woman. It was an incredible tale, bravely told.
His ex-wife and daughter sat in the audience along with his parents.
If how loving and supportive their daughter appeared is anything to go by then they did a terrific job as parents.
There is no such a thing as 'The Perfect Family'.
The love and support of the family you have, no matter how apparently imperfect it's composition is all that matters.