About the author
Mary-Anne O’Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialities in environment, music and literature. She works in marketing and co-wrote/edited A Brush with Light and Secrets of the Brush with Kevin Best.
Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their very spoilt dog Saxon. This is her fourth major novel. Her previous novels, Gallipoli Street (2015), Worth Fighting For (2016) and War Flower (2017), have all been bestsellers.
Words // Mary-Anne O’Connor
I am the mother of two teenage boys, therefore my life is constantly tinged with some level of chaos, much like a teetering pile of dishes seemingly just waiting to topple. And I’m not really sure if they were more or less eccentric and unpredictable as children compared to now. That comparison reads like a game of footy in golden point (their one true love, but I digress). This Mother’s Day I reflect on this age-old maternal question: what challenges more – the kid or the teen?
When I say my boys kept us on our toes as youngsters, read ‘professional ballerina levels.’ My children were, uh, let’s just say ‘spirited’ little souls, whose list of challenging moments can be highlighted as follows:
– Number one son getting caught standing and weeing off the wash basins on the first day of primary school
– Number two son pushing the emergency stop button on a crowded escalator
– Their backyard pooing experiment (don’t ask)
– The ‘hilarious’ half hour long hiding incident in K-mart
– ‘Mum I ate a lizard, but don’t worry I threw it up and the dog ate it’
– Two guilty chocolate smeared faces swearing solemnly they didn’t eat the fundraiser Easter eggs
– Breathing fog onto the car windows and writing ‘poo’ (apparently poo is the funniest thing in the world to little boys)
– Inventing an impressive array of imaginary illnesses on Monday mornings, e.g. ‘Mum, I have a headache in my stomach’
– …and of course, the everyday destruction of everything we own (indoor football lamp smashing, standing on and thus breaking the toilet, carving noughts and crosses into the table with a knife and fork then eating with their hands, etc.)
Before you blow the whistle and declare these two the winners, however, you may like to consider that the teenage version of these children give them a run for their money.
– ‘Mum I have a history assignment/gala day at 6am/English test and I haven’t read the book/food tech exam and need x number of gourmet ingredients…tomorrow’ (note: this information is ALWAYS delivered at 9:30pm)
– Number two walking the dog four times a day for weeks on end until the lab looks like a greyhound only for us to discover the girl down the road likes to excessively ‘walk the dog,’ too. Hmmm.
– The mysterious demolishment of every shred of chocolate, ice-cream, chips and biscuits within 24 hours of doing the weekly shopping (followed by the wailing lament of ‘I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat’ for days afterwards)
– The sudden arrival of expletives/attempted beer smuggling/’I’m staying at my mates – don’t ring the parents’ and smelly bedrooms that resemble war zones (whatever happened to sweet Spongebob PJ’s and neatly lined storybooks?)
Yes, the boys and the teens are equally challenging in different ways, and expectant mothers reading this may be developing nervous twitches right about now. But rest assured, no matter what trials and tribulations these young men present you with, when you get those gruff little hugs and a mumbled ‘I love you Mum’ as they walk out the door it all seems suddenly just a wondrous kind of adventure. And the little boys still reside inside, I promise. Poo is eternally funny, after all.