Maternal Knowledge – Power or Drudgery?

If, as some claim, women are no good at navigating, how the hell is it we are always supposed to know where everything is? I ask this because I am sick and tired of always being the problem solver. This week, J went to London. He and his father turned up at my house the night before, with no tickets. I had to order tickets late at night, with C’s card, as I needed my card at work the next day. I wondered why it was either J or his father couldn’t have sorted this out at the weekend. I would have paid for the tickets, but this last minute arrangements really stress me out.

Today, around 4, J calls from London. He has lost his return ticket. I have no idea what I am supposed to do. I make suggestions, namely that he looks a bit harder for it, and if he has lost it, he investigates how much a replacement will be. But secretly I am furious. Money is really tight in the run up to Chriistmas and J has no sense of responsibility. He doesn’t phone his father, who calls me asking what I intend to do about it. I give him the same response.

This is an endless scenario – a problem is caused by the fecklessness and lack of organisation of others and it is my job to resolve it. J loses his walking boots – he and his father ask me where they are. My suggestions they are probably at his dad’s house are ignored, but of course, that is where they end up. J loses his passport while I am away; I tell him and his dad that it is in the writing desk and they tell me it isn’t. Of course it is, but I am too far away to prove this to them. His father needs to claim Child Benefit for the three children as I have signed it over to him. He asks me how to do this. I tell him to look online and wonder if he thinks I possess special powers whereby I am taken aside at an early age and taught the secrets of life, when in reality I have just had to bloody well learn and so should he.

In Ls review sessions, he loftily describes me as the “anorexia expert” and yet six months ago I knew nothing. I just read books, spoke to others, joined in the discussions on F.E.A.S.T. And tried to keep up. During the same period, he has learned about Irish cinema, walked the entire length of the Thames, seen football matches, live music and gone to interesting lectures. All of this more important than learning about how to help his daughter.

This is more than just a tirade about an ex husband. It is genuine bewilderment about when it was we ended up, as mothers, being supposed to KNOW all this bloody stuff? How did we end up with all this responsibility without the accompanying power – although I think the organised voice of motherhood does have more power. I have heard of mothers going on strike – how about a knowledge strike, where we refuse to tell people where things are or how to do things and get them to find out for themselves? Do we secretly enjoy the long suffering air of martyrdom? The satisfaction of being right? If so, then we have brought this on ourselves. Knowledge may be Power, but sometimes, it just feels like Drudgery


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