There is no such thing as free will - it's all your mother

It's a mothers instinct that a healthy child must never have more than two biscuits per day.
Trevor Read

It's a mothers instinct that a healthy child must never have more than two biscuits per day.

OPINION: Mothers are the solution. They always have been. For whatever the problem.

I was reminded on this on Wednesday night when I reached for a third piece of chocolate. 

It was a sneaky reach, a reach I knew was likely to be unsuccessful because there was a mother within two metres of the target. 

You can eat two of these pieces of chocolate and feel good about yourself. Eat a third and you're a pig. Thanks Mum.
CARYS MONTEATH/FAIRFAX

You can eat two of these pieces of chocolate and feel good about yourself. Eat a third and you're a pig. Thanks Mum.

Inside that range nothing gets past her and so the chocolate block was whisked away before I came close. 

READ MORE: 
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* Matt Rilkoff: The poverty of wanting the best of everything
Matt Rilkoff: The terrible cost of a life full of choices

 

It is a standing rule in our house that the upper limit of anything is two. Two scoops of icecream is more than enough. To pieces of toast in the morning, two slices of watermelon, two soft boiled eggs. 

This rule of two is everywhere and nowhere is it more rigidly enforced than when it comes to chocolate and biscuits eaten in front of the TV. 

The enforcer in my house is my son's mother and even if it does not sound like it, it is something I am grateful for.  

The rule of two is reduced to one when it comes to cake.
JARED NICOLL

The rule of two is reduced to one when it comes to cake.

Because it is instinctual to mothers, but not non-mothers, that the best quantity you can have of something is one though you can also have two, if you must.

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But have a third and you're a bitter disappointment to yourself, your family and everyone else who would like you to remain healthy. Have a third and you're admitting you want to eat yourself to death and leave your loved ones emotionally and financially destitute.

Reaching for a third really is an absurdly high stakes game that I routinely find I don't have the stomach for.  Which is ironic because it's my stomach telling me to play. 

If only these people had mothers who shamed them into keeping their cellphones off the table, they may have had a chance ...
123RF

If only these people had mothers who shamed them into keeping their cellphones off the table, they may have had a chance at happiness.

I'm used to it though. I was brought up on this rule and, thinking back, breaking it  was probably one of the things I was most looking forward to doing when I did move out of home.

But the rule of two was so deeply ingrained that when I did have free access to biscuits or pieces of chocolate I could only enjoy the first two. After that I was ashamed of my gluttony and subconscious suicidal tendencies and found no pleasure in it.  

Which proved to me that my mother, like her mother before her and the mother of my son now, knew what they were doing with the limit of two. 

In a world where nutritionally empty diabetes-causing  foodstuffs, that taste absolutely amazing, are always within arms reach, we need a bit of shame to give us the motivation not to eat it all the time and then set the alarm to eat some more in the middle of the night.  

Shame is often derided as detrimental to our happiness as individuals and I can only agree. But then I also agree a little bit of detriment can go a long way and a mother who has induced some in her progeny is doing them a favour. And not just in helping them be healthier. 

For I am certain it is also largely mother-induced shame that prevents everyone eating with their mouth open. It is mother's shame that stops you leaving the house with dirty hair, a stain on your shirt or unpolished shoes.

It is a mother's disappointment you are seeking to avoid when you ask someone to pass the salt rather than reaching for it yourself and it is certainly your mother you have in mind when you call your auntie and thank them for the birthday present three months after you got it. 

Basically, if you're behaving in a pleasant way, opening the door for a stranger or simply not using a toothpick in public, it is your mother who made those things happen. They are behind it all.

Now that I understand how and why we do things I have a few suggestions that mothers may or may not want to add to their list of shame. 

Cellphone table talkers are the worst. That has to be stamped out. People who clean their ears with pens are in desperate need of behaviour change and anyone who throws takeaway rubbish out their car window has a worrying shame deficit that requires your attention. 

And if mothers could do something about that person who suggests a group of diners split the bill between them equally, that would be super.

It  would allow me, and countless other salad eaters, to enjoy our greenery without the anxiety it is going to cost us the same as Brian, that guy who ordered an oyster entree, steak main, creme brulee dessert and whose mother obviously doesn't care for his health one jot. 

 - Stuff

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