Boozy cakes and parenting mistakes the hallmark of my motherhood

I've always been a clueless parent.

At nine months pregnant I had a very uncomfortable night, gosh it hurt and it wouldn't go away. No prizes for guessing, I was in labour.

I hadn't bothered my husband with my discomfort and my horrified parents whisked me off to the doctor the following morning when I mentioned that I seemed to have some pains.

Clueless. I told you.

My daughter was born that evening.

Childcare was an endless learning curve. Curve? More like a Kosciuszko incline. I didn't pack the right amount of snacks and discovered, through some tactful staff member, that my child had been watching the others hungrily while they enjoyed their home-made delights.

When she had been attending for some time, another staff member commented on how advanced she was, enjoying sandwiches for lunch. Advanced? What were all the other babies eating?

I knew I was clueless, so I tried to learn by stealth, watching what other people did, asking my mother for advice and trying to avoid the bits about Dr Spock.

It didn't stop me from serving up a deeply alcoholic cake to all tiny attendees on my child's second birthday. They all slept well, by all reports.

The saving grace was not that my husband, already father to three older children, knew better - he didn't - but that my child was herself quite adaptable, quite self-contained, quite practical. When I was changing a nappy in the middle of the night when she was two, she informed me in her newly minted English that I was doing it the wrong way round. She was right.

Fast forward. A couple of years ago I bought some appropriate books and sat her down to talk about periods. At the end of this obviously uncomfortable talk, I asked her what she thought about it.

"That's 13 minutes of my life I'll never get back," was her response. She had timed it.

Oh the adventures we have had. We have turned up on a wave of early morning chaos to school only to find it is a pupil-free day (twice), forgotten pick-up times, made a terrible lunchtime blue that is too embarrassing to even talk about, mixed up important dates, interfered where we shouldn't have interfered, cried when we shouldn't have cried, shouted when we shouldn't have shouted. I use the royal "we" but I am, of course, just talking about me.

Somehow or other, she has survived to the grand age of 14. It's not really a grand age. In fact, there's nothing at all grand about it.

What an unlovely mess of hormones, concepts, defiance, growth and uncertainty 14 is.

One minute you are the centre of the universe, some sort of beanbag where they can curl up and forget all the growing up stuff. The next, the other end of the house is not far enough away. You are loved, hated, needed, surplus to requirements, different, deeply uncool.

Recently, I have become the fun-killer and the dreamcrusher.

"I know what I want to do when I'm older," she told me triumphantly.

"What?" I asked.

"Grow a moustache!"


"Dreamcrusher! Why do you have to crush all my dreams? Why do you hate me?"

Fair dinkum.

Yes, I am clueless, but when pregnant I never envisaged my beautiful daughter cherishing a dream to grow a moustache.

Only a lifetime to go.

Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah, New South Wales.

This story Boozy cakes and parenting mistakes the hallmark of my motherhood first appeared on The Canberra Times.