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A couple of things have happened recently that have made me wonder if I’m a bad mum.
I’m not being completely fair on myself – I think I’m actually a pretty OK mum most of the time and I even have my moments when my parenting might actually be considered quite good. Not including the moment this morning when Elfie found it appropriate to whack me on the derriere, of course.
But take last Wednesday, for instance. I turned up as normal to Hux’s nursery, popped him in the arms of his favourite carer with a kiss and a “bye bye, love you, see you later” only to be confronted with hugely confused faces. Because Hux doesn’t go to nursery on Wednesdays – he never has. Wednesdays are a pre-school day, in the next village along. Oops.
You think I would have learnt the first time I did this.
Then there was the time that Elfie threw an unfamiliar pair of knickers into the laundry basket. “Where did these come from?” I asked her. Apparently Miss L had to put them on her because she’d gone to school with no underwear on.
That was the last time she was allowed to dress herself.
And then there was the evening she came home from school to proudly show me the book she’d taken to read with her teacher that day:
But you see, the things I have realized is that the symptoms of being a bad mum seem to be very similar to the symptoms of being a very busy working single mum. Yes, we might dash out the door without their/our coats once in a while or end up having to scribble on the back of an envelope in lieu of the required permission slip that got lost in last week’s ‘to do’ pile… but that’s part and parcel of working 11 hour days, isn’t it?
The key is finding the balance. When I worked for myself it was always really hard to turn off and pay attention to the kids once they were at home. Now, I know that between the hours of 6 and 7.30 we have dedicated family time and that is the most important part of the day. The weekends are even more precious so we try to do stuff as a family; swimming, seeing friends, cooking a big old roast then settling down to watch a film together.
But then there’s nothing balanced about our mental morning routine, scrambling to find recorders, book bags, water bottles and, erm, the correct knickers, before jumping in the car. I like turning up to work looking vaguely human so need to spend three minutes slapping makeup on and sorting my hair out so we always end up legging it out the door ten minutes late. Then there’s me checking I locked the front door twice and returning once more to make sure I turned my hair straighteners off.
I’m sure this stress could be eradicated by getting up 30 minutes earlier but I literally can’t speak before 6.30am and monster mummy is no fun for anyone.
So for now I will just wear my ‘I’m not a bad mum, just a single working one’ tshirt and hope the rest of the world understands.