“Picture this: Amazing food, kids running around thrilled with their loot, and one woman sitting there like a spider, with the power to f**k it all up.”
Accept your in-laws for who they are despite your differences.
If you have the temerity or the stomach, my mother will regale with tales of what a terrible child I was. I was covetous of my older brother’s toys; I told lies when I was in trouble and sometimes when I was not; I wanted to wear clothes that were unsuitable – too scruffy, too dirty or, later on, too tight.
The older I grew, the more I pushed back: is that your opinion? Well OK, but here’s mine. That pack of biscuits will make me fat? Hand me the whole packet!
By the age of 17 I was the worst kid on the block.
Only I wasn’t. I never wagged school . I didn’t touch alcohol or drugs until I was in my early 20s. I never snuck out at night. I was a virgin until I was 21.Want to join the family? Sign up to our Kidspot newsletter for more stories like this.
Sometimes I would attempt to tell my mother this, because it seemed there was this weird disparity in the way I saw myself and the way she saw me.
Ask your children three "you" questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, "Did you have fun at school?"; "What did you do at the party you went to?"; or "Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon?"
To which she’d reply that, once upon a time I’d been her sweet little girl. Now I was a little bitch who only had all these different opinions and desires and ambitions to spite her.
Christmas is never great. Image: iStock
“My mum ruins Christmas”
Growing up was never supposed to happen to me, you see. That sweet little girl was supposed to stay exactly as she was. The fact I didn’t is the single greatest wound I have ever inflicted upon her. And believe me, she’s kept a catalogue.The minute I had children, it was like seeing the clock wind back to zero. My mum is never so much in her element as around small children who will do as they are told. And so Christmases for the past few years have been…Not great, never great, in fact, my mum ruins Christmas.
And now my daughter is ten-years-old and a spunky, socially-advanced ten just starting to understand the beauty that is autonomy of her mind and body.She has dreams and opinions and desires and appetites, doesn’t want to sing Christmas Carols about Jesus and occasionally rolls her eyes if she thinks you have said something stupid.
She is no longer the little girl who will dress as she’s told and bend to your will because she is developing her own will.
‘You used to be sweet little girl’ my mother said to her, just the other day, at the same lunch in which she had policed her food intake, scorned her for insisting magic was real, chastised her for using the word ‘jealous’, and taken every chance for confrontation and every hill as the opportunity to die on one.
"If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders." - Abigail Van Buren
This year I don't want to invite my mum. Image: iStock
“I don’t want to invite my mum”
It’s like jumping in a time machine and being able to watch, as a grown-ass woman, exactly what my mum did to me.
That insidious suggestion that started so long ago that growing up and changing and challenging authority and experimenting with boundaries is not ‘normal’, but the sign of a bad seed.
So, I don’t want to invite my mum this Christmas. I don’t want my daughter to grow up with the belief she’s somehow more deeply flawed than the average child.
I don’t want her to second-guess her own instincts because there’s an adult in the room handing her a photograph of the moon and telling her it’s the sun.
I want her to eat all the food and laugh all the laughs and tell me how unicorns are real and all over the world.
And, yes, I want her to roll her eyes and say ‘OK, boomer’ and respond with emojis and argue every single point in her head.
And I’m not sorry.