The irony of motherhood

The irony of motherhood saw me limp into the local physio clinic to take the youngest for an appointment.

She has nerve pain in her thigh. Her mother has pain just about everywhere after hefting 20kg of pull-up banners across Sydney CBD on Wednesday. Even turning the steering wheel to get to the clinic was challenging.

But I don’t have time for two physio appointments, so I prioritize the youngest.

Mothers tend to put everyone else first – it’s why they note in those airline safety videos that you need to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.

The physio last treated the youngest four years ago, before the World Skipping Championships in Shanghai, when she twisted her ankle.

He noted that she’d grown much, much taller since then, as did a random bloke in the lift who’d never previously met her, but was impressed by the loftiness of the youth of today.

The physio also marvelled at the youngest’s ability to do pistol squats, which involve squatting with one leg hovering straight out in front of you.

She was chuffed that he commented on her strength. I would not want her tackling me on a footy field. I’d need to be stretchered off.

I really need to book a few medical appointments for myself, but my next job is to take the youngest to the doctor on Saturday to get a referral for allergy desensitising.

The youngest’s allergies are totally out of control. I’m guessing it’s either mould, dust or the dogs.

I am getting the roof resealed in the next week or two in the hope that will fix the mould issue.

If I get a full-time job I’m thinking a fortnightly cleaner might be in order, which would help with the dust.

As for the dogs, we agree they are too cute and must stay, so perhaps it’s dog hair desensitising that I will need to pay handsomely for.

On the subject of motherhood, my friend Nic shared a thought-provoking article from the SMH on Facebook this week. It’s by Julie Szego, who has another word for the feeling I describe: recrimination.

The article is called “Slacker generation bowed down by the weight of recrimination”.

It kicks off with the words: “Most of my friends exude a certain heaviness”. And I immediately knew Julie was speaking my language.

She notes: “We fear for our children’s future in a region, a world, dominated by China and its AI totalitarianism. We have no idea where their future prosperity will come from now that Australia’s near four-decades-long China boom is ebbing. We fear for their emotional, physical and intellectual wellbeing because two years of lockdowns, and the attendant immersion in social media, exacerbated an epidemic of isolation, self-loathing and obsessive disorders among young people. If you doubt this is true you either: 1. Don’t have kids, or 2. Are too immersed in social media to notice the new public health disaster unfolding.”

Yes. So many fears.

She concludes: “This heaviness we carry is not, I don’t think, the enduring cynicism of the “slacker”. I would diagnose it more as regret. Or maybe an irrational sense of failure. That we cannot raise our children with the benign neglect with which our parents raised us. That while we can – collectively – look forward to unprecedented longevity, our labour is less profitable, even less meaningful, than that of our Boomer forebears. That in succumbing to political polarisation and distraction we’ve helped enable a thin election debate at such a critical crossroad.

“When you’re awake in the wee hours – blame perimenopause, or whatever epic disruption takes your fancy – fear has a way of turning into recrimination.”

And so I scramble to make their medical appointments and cook them dinner and take them to Narooma to try and alleviate a little of that weight of the world and motherhood heaviness.

Oh, but I did ask the physio on my way out the door about whether I needed an X-ray to confirm my self-diagnosis of arthritis before he could treat me. He said could help me without one. So maybe I will make an appointment for a session.

And then there’s my cracked tooth to fix, the bowel cancer screening I’ve neglected to do and the urologist appointment I’ve been putting off for a year …

Recrimination isn’t the only thing weighing me down. Referrals are too.

As Julie notes: “Our health is still not as frequent a topic of conversation as fears about our offspring. Give it time, though.”

Song of the day: Green Day “Still breathing”

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