Some days truly are textbook; the children are happy, you feel content, in control and loved, the house even seems to get itself together. It’s days like this that make you feel as though you do know how to be a good mum.
Then there are THE OTHER DAYS.
These are the days when I seriously question my ability as a mum. That’s probably too dramatic so I will rephrase …
There are days when I question my ability to be the supermum who juggles school, after school activities, writes proposals, has a perfect dinner on the table and still squeezes in enough exercise and personal time that I look like I’ve stepped out of the pages of a personal fitness magazine. Yes you know those mums – tanned, trimmed, white toothed, perfectly french manicured and wearing nifty Lorna Jane outfits and bouncy, bouncy running shoes that look as though they’ve never touched the dirt.
TODAY started well – I was in control!
Today I was going to kick some goals, tick some jobs off my ‘to do’ list. All that on top of getting through my full day in the office.
I woke up earlier than usual and thinking I knew just how to be a good mum, I showered, dressed, made the beds and then went downstairs to have my breakfast.
Oh yes! Yessiree I do know how to be a good mum. Just look at me.
As I lowered the dish of all things lovely into the slow cooker I flipped the switch to HIGH all the while thinking “whenever I set it to ‘auto’ I get home, there is way too much liquid still remaining and I need to simmer it down for another hour to get rid of all the juice. Tonight, my dinner will be flawless”.
The ‘very economical’ gravy beef (yes I know how to be a good mum – I buy cheap cuts of meat and then cook them slowly to bring out the flavour and the tenderness) will have simmered happily all day and we will come in the door with 3 hungry children at 5.30pm to fall-apart beef korma that everyone will devour. Yes, I do know just how to be a good mum.
5.30pm and I’m still on track!
Fast forward to 5.30pm. I’m still stuck at work with 3 children strewn across the peninsula at any combination of cricket training, after school care and long day care. I know I need to leave the office very, very soon or I’ll be in danger of the night imploding. Tired children who have yet to have a bath, do homework, do some reading and get ready for tomorrow.
Yes, I must leave very soon.
I know I have a buffer though – after school care goes until 6.00pm and long day care until 6.30pm and Dad is the cricket coach so number one son’s lift home is taken care of. Suddenly I’m inspired – I’ll get Dad & Master T to collect Miss E on their way home. Yes! 5 more minutes to nail another email.
Then I really do leave. I grab the five bags of groceries I grabbed on my lunch break as well as my own homework for the night and race out the door. Into the car and zoom off to long day care. Still in good time – they don’t close until 6.30pm. And with dinner happily ready to eat, it’s no big deal.
Pay attention now – this is where it starts to unravel!
At 5.50pm I stroll into daycare, stopping to chat for 2 minutes to another mum. I walk over to the sign out sheet and begin the search for Little Miss A’s name. Funny, I can’t find it. The sheets must be mixed up. I start sorting through.
It hasn’t occurred to me that I haven’t actually seen littlest daughter.
Then suddenly like a rush of blood to the head … the realisation that today is Wednesday and she is NOT here but at the OTHER kindy washes over me.
I think I shouted SHIT (I may have even said F**K) as I bolted out the door, across the playground, through the gate and into the carpark. My second realisation is that the childcare centre where she actually is CLOSES AT 6.00PM!
How on earth could I forget what kindy I dropped my child at this morning. I scream down the phone at my husband to call the kindy and tell them I’m on my way (well it is his fault isn’t it?!) and then drive!
You’ll be amused to realise that the childcare centre I am supposed to collect from on Wednesdays is RIGHT NEXT DOOR to our office. Yes, about 100 footsteps from the MoM office door. And yet, because I was clearly being far too smug today, I drove 3 suburbs to the other one.
So, 10 minutes over time and $20.50 later, I have my precious cargo on board.
Princess on board – home for a dinner fit for a Queen!
All is still well – dinner has been bubbling all day and we’ll walk in the door to delicious smells. I have even texted ahead to ask the gang at home to put the rice into the rice cooker (and turn it on)!
At this point you should remember my grand plan of ‘flipping the switch’ to high to reduce the amount of liquid in the slow cooker … as Little Miss A runs ahead into the house shouting to the street that “Mum went to the wrong kindy”, I grab out the groceries and proceed inside. I’m greeted by the kids who laugh at the ‘kindy crisis’ but also by hubby who has a somewhat fearful look on his face as he explains that …
“Everything’s fine and we’ll still eat it … but I think something went wrong with the dinner. But don’t worry, the kids still think it smells good and if we add some water, it will be fine”.
Best laid plans …
Funnily enough I might usually pick up the slow cooker and hurl it across the room but somehow I manage to stand there sorting through the blackened ruins to find a few salvagable pieces of meat and carrot. I add another recipe base, some milk, some coconut milk (anything that might minimise the charredness of the meal), reheat and mush it all together.
I won’t lie – I do shout for 2 minutes about how I wish I could just do one thing well and one thing at a time but then I just give up. My visions of succulent, tender meat are now as real as my perfect Lorna Jane body. Whatever! I serve everyone’s dinner (they are all watching TV) and then serve my own. I sit down at the table and begin to eat – alone.
I have no temperament tonight to play the good mum, call them all in and pretend that everything’s fine.
Everything is not OK. I’m doing too much and I’m not coping. And to have to set the table and serve everything up when I was last in the door just doesn’t seem right.
Two things to be thankful for – the rice was cooked and the slow cooker is non-stick.
Eventually they all wandered in and there was a range of reactions. Two of the kids ate it all and the other screwed up her nose. I sat at the table and continued to eat. I finished and left the table and went into the study. Someone asked me if they could have Paddlepops. Normally, because I know how to be a good mum, I’d check that they’d had a good dinner and if they had, they could have some fruit, yoghurt or MAYBE a Paddlepop.
Tonight I ignored it all. So one had an icecream without eating dinner and I’m really not sure what the others ate.
There is no such thing as a supermum.
I know I’m being petulant. Truly I do. But I’ve lost the supermum gene. The dishes aren’t done, the dinner is still out and frankly, they can all stay that way. I’m a bit over it all tonight. The notion of Supermum is a myth … it really just means that you’re sacrificing even more of yourself to keep everything else bubbling along happily.
There’s always tomorrow.
So tomorrow I will catch up. I will take my littlest to swimming, we’ll get a coffee and sit in the park for an hour and then we’ll come home and I might do a load of washing.
Then I’ll pick up the others and we’re going for a playdate after school. Homework can wait, activities can take a hike and I will not think about dinner until dinnertime and it will be whatever is in the fridge.
And if anyone wants to object to that … well they can go searching for the Supermum cape I seem to have lost somewhere between the nappies, the laptop and my muddy sneakers!