I have been a horrible mum today.
There is simply no denying it. This morning I snapped, nagged, rolled my eyes, grumbled and moaned. Shoes were lost, someone (not me, I hasten to add) needed an ill-timed poo, and my son sat in the car for a full 7 minutes while I chased, cajoled and convinced, before admitting he had no idea where his book bag was. Then I erupted.
I’m always late.
We’re never organised.
Mornings are always hellish.
Whinge, whinge, whinge.
Arriving bagless, he exchanged a Don’t ask, she’s on one today! look with his childminder, I rushed off with a hug and a ‘Shall we be friends?’ With a tousle of the hair, I was gone. Next stop, dropping off the freshly poo’d daughter and the shoeless miscreant who had refused to get in her car seat. And as fast as the fog was lifting from the car, a heavy feeling weighed down on me and settled for the day. I forgot to thank my son for helping with the packed lunches. I never wished him luck practising his races for sports day. I probably gave the impression that I’d rather do anything in the world than walk him to the door of his classroom and wave him in. My daughters probably thought I was desperate to get rid of them, I handed them over with ramblings about being held up by a poo and briefly explained why my youngest was (on a warm June day) wearing wellies.
Only when the car was empty, peaceful and I realised that despite the rush, I would be on time for work, did I feel like I could cry.
I’d forgotten to promise my older daughter that I would look after the toy dog she takes in the car (with a real lead). She would wonder if I’d leave her in the hot car (I’m not supposed to do that). She would wonder if I’d let the other teachers in the staff room hold her or take her for a walk at break time (only Kate and Sarah are allowed to do that). She would wonder if I’d remembered that the children I teach aren’t allowed to talk loudly around her (she would be frightened). On removing my laptop from the car, I unearthed a tiny purple shoe and thought about the little girl with stripy wellies asking for her ‘shoes-on’ (never ‘shoes’, always ‘shoes-on’).
For the remainder of the day I played that 30 minutes over and over. I thought about the children walking into my classroom. How many of them had started the day on the same footing? Had any of my students had a blazing row, been chastised for losing something they needed for school?
I thought about that little boy who’d been so helpful this morning. Ugh, how I wished I’d followed my mum’s advice for life ‘think before you speak…’ I thought about the episode of Topsy and Tim I had to endure last week – rolling my eyes and tutting incredulously – where their mummy explained calmly and rationally (in a situation that I would so easily have hit the roof – she told them not to let go of the balloon: they did. She told them to be careful carrying the cupcakes: they dropped them). The eerily pleasant Topsy and Tim mummy encouraged her eerily angelic twins to ‘take a deep breath and wait a minute’. Oh, my, goodness. 32 years old and I was being educated by a programme aimed at children 7 and under? Well at least the irony of that gave me my first laugh of the day.
By the time tea time arrived, it was clear we were all friends again.
We watched an episode of Horrid Henry. We reassured ourselves; we would never be that horrid.
They fought over a small whistling toy chick.
I got a record number of hugs from the tiny one.
I answered a record number of questions from the big boy.
I used no less than 4 regional accents in their bedtime story.
And after a heavy storm, there is often be a rainbow: they went to bed happy. Children are amazing creatures. Book-bags have a habit of growing legs and walking (as do tiny shoes). And it appears that Topsy and Tim isn’t complete and utter codswallop either.
Tonight I’ll count every single blessing, and tomorrow I will try again.