Who wants to be a famous parent? Definitely not me | Cathy Rentzenbrink
JHere are many reasons why I’m glad I’m not famous, but there’s deep gratitude that no one ever paid close attention to my parenting. It’s hard enough being a mother without being watched, and I’m glad I never had to worry about being photographed looking bored while pushing my son, Matt, on the swings, or miserable when I watched him come on the last sports day.
Not everyone has the luxury of being an anonymous parent. Years ago, when I was still drinking alcohol and before anyone worried about social distancing, I was crowded into a pub by the River Thames watching Andy Murray play tennis. I can’t remember what the game was but it was a big deal and the crowd grew and screamed as we all dared to hope for a British champion. Between points, the camera lingered on his mother, Judy, and much of the commentary focused on her role in his success.
How good, I thought as I finished another pint.
“She looks tough,” said a man at the next table, “I bet she’s a lesbian.”
“He’s too much of a mother’s son,” said his companion. “Maybe that’s why he never wins.”
Andy Murray lost that day but went on to triumph in multiple Grand Slams and I’ve always remembered this overheard conversation as people continued to speculate about Judy Murray who said last week that being labeled as “arrogant” and the way the photos always showed her with her teeth bared, or in a mid-fist pump, was all to do with the fact that she was a woman.
I tell Matt about it when he gets home from school.
“I think she’s right,” he said. “They wouldn’t treat her like that if she was a man, would they?”
“Probably not,” I said, trying not to give myself a small thumbs up to be glad I had raised a feminist boy.
“If she were a man, she could jump up and yell, ‘Go ahead, son,’ and nobody would care.”
“It’s true,” I say. “How would you like me to react?” If you won Wimbledon, should I stay cool or jump around? »
He rolls his eyes. “I win Wimbledon is less likely than a zombie apocalypse.”
“The PE isn’t too bad these days, is it?”
“Only because I’m in the shittest group. I can never get better because if I get into a less shitty band, life will be horrible again.
“Ah,” I said, with a hint of shame because, as a sporty kid myself, I was usually a captain and didn’t think about what it was like to be one of the children who was always chosen last until I got one. of my own.
“But,” Matt said, “if we imagine what it would be like, I think it would be good for you to get a little excited. I bet Andy likes his mom to be proud. He wouldn’t want her looks bored.
I feel a shiver of maternal guilt. “Sorry for all the times I looked bored when we were at the swings,” I said.
“I’m not sure you did,” he said. “Maybe you were a bit hungover. It’s good that you stopped drinking.
“Thank you, I say, I’m proud of it. And proud of you. Maybe even more than Judy Murray is from Andy. It takes a lot of courage not to be good at things.
“Don’t be cutesy, mom,” Matt says, and he goes off to play Minecraft and I think how easy it is as a mom to think that we can never win on the motherly rollercoaster of love, of worry and guilt.
We love our children too much or not enough. Too insistent or too soft. If even Judy Murray is criticized for what she does and how she does it, how can the rest of us ever measure up?
This is the parental trap; being so afraid of making a mistake that we cannot enjoy the miracle of having created another human being. Wouldn’t it be nice instead if we could relax a bit and enjoy our kids for the unique little people that they are, whether that means winning championships or just doing their best to navigate the physical education classes as they grow in themselves.
I think back to those awful hot sports days, watching Matt struggle to follow instructions or not keep his egg on the spoon. I’m sure my face was a portrait of anguished anxiety. Maybe with another child, I would have done a fist push-up. Anyway, I’m relieved there wasn’t a photographer there to record it.