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'Mummy'

Meg Jones

14 Oct 2020

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Life was different in those days. Traditional roles were defined, expectations were to marry young, the wife leaving work when children arrived and the husband the breadwinner until the children were well established at school. Outside support was limited, there were some nursery classes for 3-5 year olds, but not the choices we have today for babies. No maternity leave, so if Granny could not care for the children, women had no choice but be a ‘stay at home mum.’

It’s the ‘Mummy’ word.
I feel as if I am going mad. The voices heard by Joan of Arc are nothing compared with the ones in me screaming to get out. If I hear that name called once more, I feel sure I shall go over the edge.
‘Mummy.’ It sounded so wonderful when it was first uttered. But that was two and a half years ago - now it fills me with despair. Emma is very demanding, but why does it always have to be me? Just then the baby wakes up. ‘Mmmee, Mmmee’ he calls. Even he has started. At least when Emma was 10 months old she started with daddy. But not this one.
I was very content at first. The house, once tidied, stayed tidy. I knew where she was and what she was doing. But not now. Now she has boundless energy, does not concentrate for more than two minutes and is flitting from place to place. Flitting did I say? Thundering is more like it.
Silence spells disaster.
I had been engrossed in a job one day when suspicion leapt to the fore. Emma was quiet. She came downstairs looking wide-eyed and innocent. ‘What have you been doing?’ I inquired suspiciously. ‘Don’t know’ was the reply. This invariably means ‘I don’t want to tell you’. Noting a tell-tale pink stain on her dress, I accused ‘you’ve been at the nappy cream in Adam’s room, haven’t you?’ Horrified that I should wrongly accuse, she jumped to her own defence
‘No I haven’t. It’s yours.’
‘We don’t play with cream do we?’
‘No’ agreed Emma, ‘we look at books.’
I love books and I try to distract her with a selection suitable for her age. Fortunately, she enjoys this activity. Sometimes my mind is crying out to read a novel when I find myself reading the same simple sentences again and again. It gets to you after a while. One night I awoke in the early hours and couldn’t get back to sleep again. Running through my mind was ‘John had great big waterproof boots on...John had a great big waterproof hat...’ Why wouldn’t these phrases go away and leave me in peace to sleep?’
Then, all sleep forgotten, I heard my sleeping husband muttering beside me.
‘James, James...Morrison, Morrison...Weatherby George Dupree...’
A. A. Milne had won.
I smiled and fell asleep. I couldn’t wait for morning - and Emma - to dawn.
Adapted from a piece in Maternity and Mothercraft

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