CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Clare Mackintosh: No easy answers

PUBLISHED: 09:41 20 June 2017

If I’ve spent 90,000 hours parenting, then I must have spent at least a tenth of that time looking things up on Google (c) Castleski / Shutterstock

If I’ve spent 90,000 hours parenting, then I must have spent at least a tenth of that time looking things up on Google (c) Castleski / Shutterstock


‘I have been mothering for 10 years - not including the hinter years of early marriage, featuring no children but a husband fresh out of apron strings, which is practically the same thing’

It is said that 10,000 hours of consistent practice is sufficient to become an expert in almost anything. I beg to differ. By my estimation I have been practising parenting for around 90,000 hours; you’d think I’d be raking in the awards by now. Where is my Mother of the Year award? My Pretty Damn Good at Parenting badge? Frankly, I’d settle for a Mediocre Mum badge. But nothing. Zip. Nada.

I have been mothering for 10 years (not including the hinter years of early marriage, featuring no children, but a husband fresh out of apron strings, which is practically the same thing) and I still suck at it. I have lost count of the number of times I have vowed to stop shouting; promised myself I’ll play more games with the kids, or help more with their homework. For 10 years I’ve bookmarked ideas for creative play; cut baking recipes out of magazines, and looked up how to make my own play-doh. Have I made it? Have I hell. Time races by like someone’s pressed fast-forward, and I barely have time to catch my breath before the next milestone whizzes past. No sooner had I got good at dealing with toddler tantrums, than someone crept in and moved the goal posts, and suddenly I had to know my times tables and be good at phonics. I turn my back for a second and the job description changes again. How are your computer skills? When was Queen Victoria crowned? How do you get grass stains out of cricket whites? I defy any headhunter to find an applicant with the right transferable skills to be a parent. Friends tell me to make the most of these years ‘before teenage hormones hit’, but already I can see them seeping in to my erstwhile gentle children. A slammed door from the 10 year old; a pouty hand-on-hip from a nine-year-old seconds away from another strop. Testosterone and oestrogen hang in the air like a mushroom cloud. Thank goodness there are two of us.

The Big Move from the Cotswolds to north Wales (stick a stamp on that New Home card - I think we’re finally getting somewhere...) has been accompanied by a Big Move on the domestic front. The husband has followed in my footsteps and quit a life in uniform for one spent following a passion. Fortunately he isn’t writing books (no room for two author egos in this family...) but has instead joined the search and rescue team, racing across Snowdonia to save damsels in distress (and idiots who wear flip flops up mountains and wonder why their toes get chilly). For the first time in our family life he is home at weekends and during the evenings (call-outs permitting); he’s there for the afternoon school run, and for homework and teatime. And boy, am I glad of it!

Not only because I can write uninterrupted, but because if there’s one area of motherhood in which I truly, madly, deeply suck, it’s homework. Oh, sure, I can help with the essay writing, the spellings, and the addition of ‘wow words’ (adjectives, to you and me) to a piece of prose, but present me with a maths quandary and Houston: we have a problem. “That’s an interesting one,” I’ll stall, pretending to scan the exercise book thrust under my nose. ‘”Why don’t you have a go at working it out on your own, before I tell you what the answer is?” At which point I’ll retreat to the downstairs loo with a scrap of paper, a calculator, and Google, before emerging triumphantly with the result.

Heaven knows what parents did before Google. It’s my go-to resource for everything from bedwetting and medical complaints, to gymnastic tutorials and origami templates. I’m adept at searching; sifting through the adverts to find a reliable source, and pinging a link to myself for future reference. If I’ve spent 90,000 hours parenting, then I must have spent at least a tenth of that time looking things up on Google. Almost 10,000 words: I guess I’m well on my way to being an expert.

I See You, published by Sphere is out now in paperback. For more information or more from Clare Mackintosh, visit her website or follow her on Twitter! @claremackint0sh


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search