Saturday, 2 April 2011

Lonesome, quarrelsome heroes

Out on the bleak rainy road recently, I saw a bright orange lorry emblazoned with: 'Iceland: because mums are heroes'.

For my brethren on the mañana side of the Atlantic: 'Iceland' in this instance means Britain's premier budget frozen foods shop, not that other rainy island. You can buy a hundred differently-packaged bags of fish fingers at Iceland the store, and a lifetime's worth of ketchup.

I had a few questions to ask of this lorry. Like: Was Boudica a big fan of frozen chips? Does the purchase of bulk freezer peas transform a mum into a some kind of Odysseus, tied to the mast of a death-star buggy, braving the siren call of fresher foods? Are mini-vans as sexy as bat-mobiles? Have us mums really got as little fashion sense as Wonder Woman?

But the lorry drove on before I could get any answers. I tend to have this effect on slogans that I try to interrogate.

The apparition of this motto in my morning left me thinking of that scene in The Princess Bride, where the dashing hero Wesley is captured by Prince Humperdinck and strapped to a super-duper-evil torture machine in the dungeon pit of despair. As the film makes abundantly clear, the super-duper-evil machine process is quite painful and screamy, and it extracts years off Wesley's life in the blink of an eye. He leaves the dungeon a broken, aged, near-dead sort of hero.

The super-duper-evil machine process definitely has some similarities to this parenting gig. Kids will give you a backache in place of a social life. They are the world's most effective antidote to youthfulness in adults. Of course, they also infuse life with a deep, abiding sense of purpose - something you normally can't purchase on the frozen foods aisle.

So if I was a Motto Creator instead of a Soup Developer, I'd suggest this revised wording for the orange lorries, to better reflect the general experience:
Bog Standard Woman be warned!: children will turn YOU into that frazzled woman at Iceland at 3 in the afternoon: bad posture, no obvious hairstyle, shockingly ugly footware, ketchup-spattered ex-maternity shirt, gripping a trolly with white knuckles, yelling childishly at a rabid pack of short people to STOP BEING SO FLIPPING CHILDISH. 
Because yes indeed - mums CAN be heroes. But madness is compulsory. And fish finger procurement is highly likely. 
However, take heart Bog Standard Woman: a mama is a sort of whisky priest - she soldiers on through the Icelandic jungle, hounded by short creatures on all sides. Aisle after frozen aisle, no spending money left in her holey pockets (it has all gone on battery-operated bubble-blowers and other awful plastic tat). All she has left is a grain of hope, a truckload of caffeine, and a nearly-spent flask of brandy if she's lucky. Seriously uncool, flawed, duty bound to her calling, even to the death. 
A grumpy, exhausted and very well-disguised hero.    
So here's a Mothering Sunday toast to dishevelled heroes with maternal battle scars - join me in raising a chipped sippy cup to tough days gone and a brighter, taller future. I hope to heaven that I may one day wear an obvious hairstyle, discover good posture, and a luxuriate in a calm demeanour. For now, I simply want the day off. I plan to spend it napping, heroically.


  1. enjoy mother's day tomorrow. Well written post. We don't have Iceland supermarkets in Ireland, but had the ads on 'the channels' with Kerry Katona playing supermom.

  2. But do they still sell Artic Rolls? Because this bog standard woman would only be going in one if they did... A very Happy Mother's Day to you too (hope you are all settled in your new home too!)!... Emma

  3. I always feel roused when a supermarket starts cheerleading me. It really honestly makes me want to shop there. Honestly. Unfortunately, I am too busy saving the world and wearing my pants over my trousers (and that's just because I am dog tired and have stopped noticing what I wear).

  4. HAH - so I am not the only one who wears pants over trousers (and on head) from sheer fatigue - happy mothers day from one wrong-trousered mum to another :)

    Emma, I actually had to google arctic rolls (thought it might be a pre-diet condition in Lapland), how sad is that. Settling in pretty well for week one, thanks.

    Áine - believe me, you ain't missing much...those ads sound terrifying - yet another reason I don't have a TV!

  5. Great post, made me laugh. I like to think of my new found post pregnancy bingo wings as my super mummy cape :) Happy Mothers day!

  6. You express my thoughts about Motherhood much more eloquently than I ever could! I was just musing about how old and tired I feel and I'm sure the little ones in my life are the cause ..... And yet I wouldn't and couldn't swap it for all the youth elixir in the world! Glad the move has gone well.x

  7. What a great post, beautifully summing up exactly how I feel. I have not seen my hair brush for 8 months! Happy Mothers' Day x

  8. Hi Mañana
    great post I haven't entered the joys of motherhood yet and sometimes I think I'm not missing much!! Whenever I'm in a supermarket and I see some child throwing a trantrum I think that when I have children they will never behave like that but I know deep down that all children do. Well done all you supermums I raise a glass to you all.

  9. Thanks for the tip Mummy Bean - I will likewise refer to my spare tire as a super-mum cape!

    Cheers for your sweet note Auntie D, you are right - the little'ns make the oldness worth it (and yet, grey hair...why, why, why?).

    Jennie, glad I'm not the only one with a hairbrush on permanent walkabout!

    Sue, thanks for visiting - I had the SAME high standards for my children before they were born...but now I am THAT woman in the supermarket. Life is such a humbling experience sometimes, sigh :)

  10. You express my thoughts about Motherhood much more eloquently than I ever could! I was just musing about how old and tired I feel and I'm sure the little ones in my life are the cause ..... And yet I wouldn't and couldn't swap it for all the youth elixir in the world! Glad the move has gone well.x

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