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A cold Friday: Reflecting on mothering my family of five

Mother of five Cathy Johnston writes about her hopes that her children will appreciate her – as she appreciates her own mother, and all those who mother us.

As the mid morning sunshine filters through the clouds, the last of Jack Frost’s overnight ice crunches beneath my pink gumboots. The baby is finally asleep. I love soaking up the sun and I crave alone time. It had been a busy morning herding five eager children to school. I tied shoelaces for one, grilled their breakfast of sausages in the oven, prepared a bottle of formula for the baby, and said goodbye to the eldest as she dashed out the door early to catch a ride with Dad. It is my wish that these beautiful children of mine will enter adulthood thinking back to their childhoods – and that they will appreciate me.

The author’s children

There is nothing particularly significant about today, except it is cold. And it is Friday. The end of the week is something I always look forward to. It’s kind of like pay day, except when you are a stay at home mother, you don’t always get paid in cash. You receive brown nuggets of poo instead and a load of dishes to commend your cooking efforts. Don’t tell my husband that I make sure the baby has saved one of those special golden brown nuggets by 6.30pm when he walks in the door straight after work. What a coincidence, he thinks to himself. How can this intelligent baby of mine produce poo at 6.30pm every flipping evening! I grin, exclaiming, “The baby is a genius!” After all, the youngest takes after me. Why shouldn’t she? She has my genes.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, goes the grass. I break a few wooden pellets to make firewood kindling. As I stomp on the wood, my pink gumboots squelch into the mud. A duck-like squeak pierces the quietness. Ah! That’s probably a rubber duck, I think. I bet one of the kids dropped it in the long grass. I bend down to pick it up,  surprised at what is in my hand. A plastic dinosaur! I never knew this reptile actually had any talents. This one did! I squeeze it in my hand a few times just to make sure it isn’t really a rubber bath ducky. But it really is a ferocious looking dinosaur. I will treasure it until 3pm. The five year old will be astounded that his dino was found at last. And not only that – his T-Rex squeaked for help.

Mums are good at rescuing toys. Mothers know the answer to everything. We even know the five-times table, and where the mismatched socks are. Mums are good at kissing bumps to the head, putting on plasters (especially the ones with Star Wars and Minions insignia) and separating children at opposite ends of the dining room table. But what kids don’t realise is that mums often don’t have all of the answers; not even their teachers know everything about this mysterious universe. But what I do know is that I am fond of my pink gumboots. Wearing them makes me feel like Supergirl. Without them I wouldn’t be able to jump on wooden pellets to create firewood. And I probably wouldn’t have stepped on T-Rex. But I did, and that’s what makes me a hero in my five year old’s eyes.

Mothers are heroes. They ought to be celebrated. Every child needs a hero in their life. Someone who steps up if Mum isn’t there.

I’m looking forward to lighting our fireplace tonight. We will sit around the hearth, saying how grateful we are to the heroes in our life. My children have me as their Supergirl. And I have my own mother who brought me into this world.

Let us thank those who mother us.

We don’t have all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood stars – and if we’re honest, we don’t really need it. It is enough that our children appreciate our efforts to run the household. At the end of the day, our children won’t remember the time we cleaned the house from top to bottom, wildly vacuuming spider webs from the ceiling and picking up scattered toys. Instead, they will remember the time spent with them, kissing their little foreheads goodnight, tucking them up in bed, and singing songs on rainy days.

On hard days, I remind myself that what matters is they love me. And they always will. Ten years from now, those dirty dishes won’t matter.

To the mothers who rescue toys and attend to tears, I salute you.

Cathy Johnston is a busy mother of five, which includes a baby and a disabled child. Cathy’s special needs son has epilepsy and non verbal autism. He attends Kimi Ora school, which is specifically designed to accommodate students who have disabilities. Cathy and her husband Matt are currently self publishing their memoir, ‘Two for the Price of One’. It is a story about raising twins and a special needs child. They hope to launch their book by October 2017.

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