The kids are back into the swing of things at school, and the hordes of whey-faced, anxious mums, weeping into junior’s satchel are slowly recovering their composure. At least in public. What is it about us mums that makes us so emotional? In theory, I should be past that stage, but I can still turn on the waterworks at the drop of a hat. I only need to hear a moving news item on the car radio about puppies or kids, and before you know it, I’m blubbing away, dangerously trying to navigate the streets through smeared mascara. Once again, as the villains in Scooby Doo say, ‘Those pesky kids are to blame.’
The lack of sleep once a little bundle arrives may well have something to do with our overly emotional state, but what about this newly-discovered empathy with all living things? While I was sitting on my favourite rocking chair, feeding my newborn daughter and watching a heart-rending appeal on TV, I was again caught in the act of uncontrollable weeping. ‘What’s wrong now?’ my long-suffering husband sighed. ‘We need to adopt an orphan from Africa,’ I blubbed. It wasn’t greeted in the way I expected, but it’s still on my list of ‘things to do’, along side ‘Pay the DEWA bill’.
I don’t handle confrontation well either. These days, a chance shove or queue jump by a random stranger on the wrong day in Spinneys can be enough to make me howl, and woe betide the teacher who dares to criticise my little darlings, as they run the risk of encountering a wailing wreck. It’s in our blood, I reckon. I have vivid memories of my own mother sobbing at my attempts to play violin in school concerts, despite the fact that all she could see around the music stand was my skinny legs and the bow moving up and down.
But school concerts and award ceremonies are a hot-bed of emotion, all handled in the same, shameful way, with tissues at the ready. My outbursts are not even confined to my own children. I can turn it on for little Johnny or Jenny, just because they’re cute or small, or both.
But something funny happened last year. My youngest was very pleased, and not a little surprised, that I managed to wave her off on a school camping trip to the desert without one embarrassing tear being shed. Maybe I’m coming out the other side of this sentimental soup that I’ve been swimming in for years. What a sad thought. Pass me a tissue.