I have failed twice this week in the perfect motherhood stakes.
I usually wake up before my alarm goes off and enjoy that luxury of lying in bed listening to the tinkly sounds of Radio 3 without having to get up for a bit yet, but this week I overslept. The first time, I was woken by my alarm, switched it off and went straight back to sleep. On one occasion I heard the news announcement, yawned, stretched, thought ‘Ooh, I’ve overslept a bit, not to worry’, and prepared to crawl out of bed when it suddenly hit me that the announcer hadn’t said ‘News at 7’ but ‘News at 8’.
I threw myself down the stairs calling my daughter’s name, yelling ‘So sorry, don’t know what happened, went straight back to sleep..’ only to find her fully dressed and calmly packing her bag.
‘Don’t worry Mum, I heard my alarm’ she said matter-of-factly.
The second time was worse, I failed to shout upstairs to my son as promised to make sure he got up on time to catch the early bus to Brighton because he had an exam. Epic fail. I could imagine his tutor’s voice: ‘Don’t you care about your son’s education..?’
He hurled himself downstairs like lightening and was out of the house in his personal best time. His parting shot was ‘Don’t worry Mum, it’s not your fault, it’s my responsibility and anyway it’s only a mock.’
It’s good to fail if only to discover that your kids have the right attitude to these things.
Even though I’ve been doing this job for twenty two years now, I’m still not immune to those insidious cultural pressures though. Lack of due care and attention whilst parenting is a crime against Perfect Motherhood and is duly punished by my inner cultural stereotype police who suddenly go on High Alert:
‘You’re THAT kind of mother. You’re the kind of mother that lies in bed and doesn’t get up in the mornings. You’re one of those Daily Mail mothers that just DOESN’T CARE. When they’re grown-up your children will look back on a childhood of neglect and have an image in their heads of dragging themselves off to school on cold winter mornings while their mother slumbers on oblivious in her warm bed.’
And then I laugh and think ‘Where did that come from?’ I don’t even read the Daily Mail. And failing at perfect motherhood is not a crime, it’s actually a great opportunity to see how well your kids can manage without you.