Welcome to our giant family therapy jar

2012-07-12 06:36

It was a cold and rainy Cape Town night and our family was sitting around the fire, after a hearty soup dinner, taking it in turns to read to each other from AS Byatt’s new novel, a retelling of the Norse myth of Ragnarök.

‘At this very moment,’ I whispered to Andreas, as Benj stumbled over some Nordic name, ‘we could be the best parents in the entire world. Soup. Warmth. Love. Literature. Score, baby.’

I have often written about under-parenting… those moments when you have to be frank with your children and explain that this right here?

Not your best work.

Like hangover mornings.

Or stomp-home-from-work evenings. Basically any day that one of my sons tells me that they are not angry with me, just a bit disappointed.

We even have a Therapy Jar.

We’ve had it for a full decade now and I am thinking of renaming it The University Fund, as there’s not an insubstantial number of grubby R50s balled up in there.

The Therapy Jar is used in moments when you want to take your parenting guilt and just stick it away somewhere useful.

The time I screamed like a banshee at Toddler Josef, who had an ill-timed potty training accident?


When I asked Benj if he thought he deserved to be part of the family, following a rather spectacular hallway crayon mural?

 Another R50.

When I lay, depressed and in the foetal position, on the couch and mumbled that it was ‘Find What You Can In The Kitchen’ Dinner Night?


But if you’re anything like me, you don’t make enough of a fuss about the great moments.

I don’t know if my friends and I are all just trying to make each other feel better, but we only seem to share our disasters and not our successes.

Maybe we’re scared of sounding smug, but we habitually underrate ourselves.

(This might just be working mothers, but I suspect stay-at-home moms are equally apologetic.)

Well, enough of that.

Life’s hard enough without a layer of parenting sheepishness.

Yes, there’s nothing worse than a Smug Parent, but I think our peak parenting moments balance out our truly crappy ones… and we kinda land somewhere safe on the spectrum.

But I could just be convincing myself it’s okay to take the pizza delivery money out of the Therapy Jar.

» Get your iMag with City Press on Sunday.

– City Press iMag

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