Friday, 9 May 2014

Cereal killers (and other causes of mummy guilt)

A broken-voiced bass greets me as I rub the sleep out of my eyes and try to focus on the day ahead: “Mum, gimme money.”


“Cos there’s nothing to eat for breakfast in the house, and I’ll have to get something from the canteen at school.”

Cue cartoon double-take from middle-aged woman in a purple bath robe in the direction of the top of the fridge where there should be a selection of cereal boxes lined up like guards on parade. 
Where the hell have they gone? I only bought them last week.

There must be something in the hormones that kick in to sprout hairs, pimples and raging urges never spoken of when mother is around, that drives teenage boys to devour cereals like a flock of piranhas in a feeding frenzy when an unfortunate heifer falls into the river.

With just one teen mouth to feed, a Family Sized box of supermarket cereal will last 4-5 days, maybe a week if I manage to distract him with promises of morning fry-ups or slices of homemade cake. But if we happen to play host to one or more of his friends, as we seem to do most weekends, an entire box can disappear in a day – especially if a certain young dude who happily chomps through three or four bowls in the space of 24 hours period is in residence.

And let's be clear, folks. We're not talking muesli with a dash of almond milk (c'mon, get real, these are 17-year-olds here, not macrame-weaving yoga instructors), we're talking about full-on processed, chocolate-flavoured, sugar-crusted, E-number packed boxes of crunchiness. Not a goji berry in sight.

Unfortunately, my inner Domestic Goddess has been on a sabbatical lately, so there are no tempting bacon smells or slices of homemade goodness on offer. The past two weeks have delivered a particularly heavy dose of ‘women’s issues’, a three-day migraine, the constant clatter of public works being conducted ahead of local elections (pure coincidence of course!), an incident with a cat's claw and a contact lens, and all-round knackeredness - all of which has conspired to curb any over-enthusiasm on the ‘She does it all, folks!’ working mum front.

I am a bad mummy.

So, I fish out whatever spare coins I have from my bag and dutifully hand them over to my seemingly starving offspring. As I do so, I feel all the requisite pangs of guilt and inadequacy, just as society and women’s magazines have taught me. Looking at my hands, I feel even more hopeless – not only am I a Supermum failure, my manicure (ha!) is in a shocking state. Chipped metallic grey nails is not the look the fashion pages tell me I should be aiming for this season.

Trying to redeem myself, I grab a notepad and start making a list for the supermarket. Two items shout out in bold capitals – CEREAL (3 boxes) and WASHING CAPSULES – and get me thinking. 

Why is it that no matter how many boxes of cereal you buy, they're empty before you have the chance to look for the plastic toy?
Why is the dirty linen basket always full, regardless of how many washes you put on? 
And more to the point, how can I reverse that magic so the cereal is never-ending and the washing non-existent?

Or perhaps I should stop worrying and learn to love the cereal killers in my life?

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