Childhood monsters don’t disappear as you grow older. They evolve. They grow. They are no longer confined to the spaces under the bed or in the shadows cast upon the walls.
Unmarried, childless women of a certain age are haunted by the spectre of The Tick Tock Man. Think of Captain Hook’s crocodile only more terrifying. The Tick Tock Man is tall and thin, and his hand he carries an old-fashioned fob watch attached to his black coat by a long silver chain. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. He is in the faces of the children playing in the park and in the long-suffering sigh of your mother. In the imagined pity you see on faces of married women, at the bottom of a carton of Haagen Dazs and in the stickiness of trendy bar floors.
For mothers, the spectre is far scarier. She is The Mommy. You know she doesn’t exist this paragon of female virtue, but she stares at you from shop windows, in the teacher’s unblinking gaze, and in the light of birthday candles adorning a Sistine Chapel of icing. She is a cross between a 1950s housewife and your mother-in-law, in whose eyes you will never measure up.
The Mommy I have recently realised is the reason we stay up for 36 hours making cupcakes, why we buy Baby Guess and the latest whatever. She is why we kill ourselves trying to dress correctly, go to the gym, have a career and be the perfect wife and mother. After chatting to few mums at the school, I realise I am not alone in my experiences, so I wonder why we keep competing against this imaginary visage? She is not real and it is time she stopped making our lives a misery. The problem is, you just can’t submit, because her spirit may have taken over the body of the PTA mom in the Subaru next door. There is no exorcising The Mommy. She is everywhere and she thrives on the guilt of sub-standard mummies.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
PS: After the Purity Jar trauma of last night, my long suffering husband catches me as I leave on midnight mission to garage shop and gently encourages me to bed with promises that he will buy on the way to school in the morning. Which he did.
I even survived the Valentine’s Day Red Dress saga with small girl of almost 5. She wore a pink dress with flowers on and I put the red dress in her bag (she won’t wear it, but I won’t look like mummy who forgot).