Most of us know we are far from perfect at parenting, in fact I am certain that the perfect parent doesn’t exist. We are, however, content that we do a pretty good job at winging it. Some days go better than others. Some weeks you begin to feel that actually, you are a pretty good parent. Your children are well fed, have been sent to school in clean uniform at least twice that week, you have planned an awesome birthday party and have redecorated all children’s bedrooms single-handedly. Just when you feel like you are getting to grips with things, there comes a moment, a moment of pure parental realisation that you are actually the 'Worst Parent' in the world, and don’t forget it.
Of course, you know deep down that you are not the worst parent, you have not done anything prison-worthy, your child is not damaged (well not really) but you do manage to do something; make a mistake, forget something, which your child is ready to crucify you for. The moment of realisation comes when you see your child’s face, or see a reminder and you know it will take some doing before they forgive.
Today was one of those days. The week had been going so well. Yesterday the Threenager turned, well, three. We had a fab party, the presents were a success. Today the last of the snow cleared and the sun came out, a hint of Spring in the air. As far as I was aware the six year old was in computer club so I was strapping the Threenager’s helmet on ready for some scooting fun. Then the phone rang, and the penny dropped.
‘Is that Mrs Jarman?’
‘Hi, it’s school, we have your daughter here.’
(Oh no is she ill?)
‘She hasn’t been collected yet.’
‘Well no, she has Computer Club.’
‘Did you not get the newsletter, it’s cancelled today’.
Compared to some of the horrific stories in the papers, compared to war, famine, disease, this little faux pas is hardly newsworthy, but as the realisation sank in, I knew I was seriously in the dog house. School is a twenty minute walk, when the small one is in the buggy, which of course she wasn’t. I promised her her scooter and she wasn’t forgetting that in a hurry. Cue begging and pleading the Threenager to hurry up and her not sensing my urgency, by the time we reached the front desk my eldest was telling everyone that would listen that her mum had forgotten her and it was the worst day EVER.
If anyone knows my daughter, they know that she enjoys a bit of drama and she was ready to lay it on thick. This afternoon I have been well and truly tortured. My neighbours heard her whole tragic tale. The dinner wasn’t right, I hadn’t signed her choir form (another thing I seem to have missed entirely!?!) and we finished the third Harry Potter book at bedtime and now she has to wait a whole two weeks (until her birthday) to get the next. I am sitting on the sofa penning this wearing my ‘Worst Parent’ medal and am ready to fire myself Alan Sugar style.
Kids have a way of pushing our buttons, they know how to make us feel guilt like no one else can, but now the kids are tucked up in bed, safe and warm, fed, bathed, comfortable I know once more that actually I’m pretty good at this winging it thing. Today wasn’t great, but she was in a safe place, I was only a bit late and she definitely wasn’t forgotten, let’s face it, it could be a lot worse. So tonight if you have had a similar day, if the kids have made you feel well and truly crap about yourself, do not despair, we all get them and so long as the kids are looked after, that is the main thing. Oh and remember, you are not the worst parent out there, that would be me, and I have the medal to prove it!