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In praise of parents

Every day our parents put themselves out to look after us and protect us, but how often do we remember to do the same for them?

There are thousands of job opportunities out there. You could be a taxi driver and pick up drunken teenagers at four in the morning, you could be a doctor and treat endless broken arms from children falling off climbing frames, you could be a referee and pull apart the immature petty push rounds at football matches. You could be a chef and cook endless meals for fussy and rarely-satisfied customers, you could be a counsellor and spend your days listening to other people’s problems, you could be a school teacher and try and teach mischievous children how to form a straight line and do up their top buttons. You could do any one of these jobs. You’d start at nine and finish at six, and you’d get paid a reasonable amount which would keep you quiet even on the days when you really couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and go to work. You’d retire eventually, and breathe a huge sigh of relief, and until then you could speckle your depressing workload with the odd day off, holidays, and sick leave for when you just couldn’t face going in. That’s pretty much how your career life will go, people, unless you become a mum. If you become a mum you will probably have a job – you may be a nurse or a lawyer or a teacher on the side – but full time, with no days off, no holidays, no sick leave, no retirement, and never any pay, you will be a mum. And you will spend your days picking up your drunken teenagers at 4am, patching up your clumsy kids when they fall off the climbing frame, pulling apart your offspring as they fight and argue, and cooking endless, unappreciated meals. You will spend your days listening to other people’s problems, desperately trying to teach mischievous children how to behave, and doing a billion other jobs besides. Because you will be a mum and that is what they do. Free of charge.

I don’t mean to ignore fathers here – I’m afraid you guys all face pretty much the same fate. And with this in mind, perhaps we should view the upcoming Mother’s Day as something more than just another excuse for Clinton cards to make a teddy bear. Perhaps we should realise that every day should be Mother’s Day and Father’s day, because to be honest, every day is ‘My Children’s Day’. Every day our parents put themselves out to look after us and protect us, but how often do we remember to do the same for them?

I have always loved my mum, obviously. But as I have grown up that love has turned into something more: a sheer admiration that anybody is capable of doing so many different things at once. I did once hold a theory that she was in fact an octopus – not because she looked like one from any angle – but purely because it seemed only a being with eight arms at their disposal could ever be responsible for doing so much, so well, and so quickly. My mum is incredible. By 7am, when I stagger down unimpressed at my enforced early start, unable to string more than two words together, my mum has baked enough cakes to open her own bakery, mowed the lawn and probably translated ‘The Odysseus’ from Latin, just for fun, and all before breakfast. I’ve not even managed to make my bed yet, and it will be another two hours at least before I can even remember my name.

The mind blowing multi-tasking aside, our mums earned a lifetime of free cups of tea, shoes and BBC Jane Austen adaptations a long time ago. We should have been thanking them before we were even born (which I do realise would have been tricky for us). They carry us around in their womb for nine whole months – I can’t even carry my shopping up the hill from Tesco. And though I don’t think many of us can really remember our stay in the womb, I am certain we were happy in there – babies certainly never look or sound particularly impressed when they have to leave.

Mums carry us around and refrain from their much loved glasses of wine, they pee numerous times an hour, go up at least four dress sizes and even allow themselves to look fat, and they do all that just for us. And then of course, they give birth to us, and we’ve all heard the screams. To put it into context, if somebody gave you melon and told you to squeeze it out of your nostril, would you oblige? Your mum did, or at least she well did with something similar.

Dads too, and grandparents. Guardians, step-parents, uncles and aunts. That entire orchestra of people that look after us and feed us and become walking ATMs. They all deserve to be recognised and appreciated, not just on Mother’s Day but every day of the year. They may be full time parents, but we’re their full time children, and we should be there for them just as much as they are there for us, just without the free cash withdrawal option.

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