‘Motherhood stocktaking’ is what I call it. Sitting down with a cup of herbal tea, I ponder on how marvellous I have been as a mother. My daughter is studying law at a top University and was only ever an A student. She is charitable and kind to animals. I have never seen her kick grannies on the road nor shout at toddlers who suddenly stop on the pavement in front of you to pick up a cigarette butt.
This sense of congratulatory peace can go on for a little while before I am rudely jarred by my daughter telling me, ‘you are so boring’. I am then subjected to a list of my failures which also include making her watch a scary ghost film when she was 11. She is now 20 years old. My herbal tea suddenly turns into a witches’ brew.
Failure is hard to confront. Failure is hard to embrace. We all want our failures to disappear. The last thing we want is to be tainted by failure because bad news hangs around far longer than good news does. Fact of life.
But, there is a solution. It is to change the narrative around failure. Trump does it all the time. The Right excels at this. Ask Chris Grayling. The only time that they decide enough is enough is when the 1922 Backbench Committee calls time which involves banging desks or not banging desks loudly enough. Much like in school. But, as we saw last year, even the 1922 ers can be strung along for some time if someone dangles the ‘self-interest’ carrot in front of them.
Failure is a malleable construct. The self-help industry excels at it. People are making loadsamoney telling you that failure is a necessary step to success. Failure isn’t the flip side of success anymore, it is a success in itself.
If politicians like Zac Goldsmith can lose their seats and be rewarded with a peerage then that sets a new ‘sky is the limit’ on failure right? The waters of success and failure has become very mudied. Nigel Farage drove a whole movement that led the Tory party to unbridled success in implementing Brexit. While Nigel Farage has never won a seat and is seen as an idiot (except by a narrowing band of merrymen) he was a success though.
What do we make of Jo Swinson who was leader for a short amount of time before spectacularly bombing out in the general election? Rumour has it that she will be given a peerage to sit in the House of Lords. ‘Arise Dame Swinson’ sounds like a reward to me. Also, If a component of measuring failure is time then Jo has excelled.
I am spending my Sunday rewriting my failures into successes. It’s the sort of thing that I need to do in dealing with my midlife crisis. My daughter will just have to put up with the fact that watching a ghostly movie at the age of 11 has saved her tons of money. She opts out when her friends go to the cinema to watch them. I was a success after all. Witches’ brew is my new drink.