Crippling disappointment in the partner choices your kids make.
Or just good old-fashioned bafflement, as in, “what were you thinking? Why? Just, when, what, who?”
When I think back on what my poor old mum has experienced, as I’ve breezily arrived wherever, heralding the arrival also, of one or other of the men I was currently dating, I thank the good Lord, I don’t have to experience it. Ever.
Take The Prince Fan.
Cerca 1985, I was 14 and the PVC-jean-clad, guyliner-wearing, mullet-sporting, fan of lip gloss standing next to me in the kitchen, was a year older. He was as blind as a bat, and not very bright, but I thought he was the coolest thing since …..well, since Prince. And pixie boots. (Which he was also wearing.)
My dad was snoring away on the sofa in the lounge, affording my mum enough time to shoo us away, like pesky cat visitors crapping in her flowerbeds, before he awoke and caught sight of the lace-trimmed floppy cuffs I wasn’t wearing.
Thinking back to my dad’s pronouncement, on seeing Prince on the telly, that ‘it looks like a woman’. (Yeah, just like a woman with his super groomed micro beard and moustache). And his further reaction to seeing the pop video for Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’, and asking, “what is that?”, referring delicately to Annie Lennox, with her gender stereotype-challenging shaved head and masculine suit, I think my mum was wise to wave us out of the house.
Prince Fan didn’t last long, as his cool sadly didn’t outweigh my embarrassment of him blindly stumbling around the record department of WHSmiths, after he broke his glasses. And that’s where I left him, and last saw him, with a 7-inch Adam Ant vinyl, squished up against his nose to see the price.
Then there was the ambition-less ex-husband.
Nice enough, pleasant and funny, with not an ounce of get-up-and-go (but the air and pretence of quite the opposite), that my mum could detect at a hundred paces. My dad loved him.
For almost nine years, this relationship choice was accepted and embraced by my family, despite the feeling that it would all end in tears. Because that’s what you do, support your kids choices and let them make their own mistakes. Even if it kills you.
Although we were no longer dating, Alcoholic Adam, tried to engage my mum in a conversation about cricket while bumming a fag, outside a jazz gig I was running. She returned inside the restaurant to state, “he’s an idiot.” She wasn’t wrong.
And that is just the tip of the very, very large iceberg, the ones they did meet. Can you imagine the ones that never even made it across the threshold?
Case in point: the AWOL, (who technically, I’m still dating. Sincé 2001), the drug-running meat head, and Belfast Boy who (seriously) offered to burn down a professional bully’s business and dropped c*@t, every other word. Even when say, describing the delicate beauty of a butterfly’s wings.
I can’t imagine for one second, being able to mask my abject disappointment as well as my mum has all these years. Because we only want the best for our kids, and that stretches to partners too.
And that is my ‘reasons why I don’t have kids’ #40.