On Getting the Crap Mother of the Year Prize – Again

One of my three favourite human beings in the entire world.
One of my three favourite human beings in the entire world.

So, today two hideous things happened to me today before 8am. The first one was being woken up, pre-alarm on a Monday morning by my six-year-old reminding me that today is Chef’s Day at her school. Chef’s Day is a weekly fund-raising initiative whereby each child has the chance to be the hero by bringing a snack to school (scones, muffins, fruit kebabs) which the other kids have to pay R5 for and the money goes towards school stuff. And the reason why Chef’s Day is happening on a Monday instead of a Friday, as normal, is because this particular mother was so involved in her work and fighting with the traffic department and getting lambasted by internet trolls and making it to boot camp and choosing doors for the new deck that she forgot. Which meant that the other kids were so disappointed they wouldn’t play with her at break time. Ouch. Wow.

So, I put on my gown and rushed blearily to the kitchen frantically thinking of how I could miraculously transform the sad contents of my empty post-weekend fridge and kitchen cupboard into thirty tasty, inventive treats. I had a box of Nomu instant chocolate brownies, but it requires a bunch of eggs and I ate the last two with chakalaka for breakfast yesterday. I bought popcorn at the 7-11 last night, but we’re clean out of sandwich bags. My husband is the pancake pro but again, we are eggless wonders. So, at a loss for inspiration, I apologized profusely to my little girl and promised her that the following day she would take the best Chef’s Day treats ever in the history of Chef’s Day to school, and that I was sure her friends would let her play with them today – while she cried quietly into her Cheerios and I died a thousand deaths.

But wait, that’s not all. The second we walked through the school gates I was accosted by her little friends who wanted to know why we didn’t show up at the fabulously fun birthday party in Camps Bay on Sunday which was just so much fun! The one I had diligently punched into my phone calendar with an alert and everything but obviously had forgotten to save. So just kill me now, why don’t you? And I don’t know how other mothers seem to be so on top of things. It’s not like I sit in an office from nine to five. I work from home which gives me wonderful flexibility, and the time to drive around for an hour on a Tuesday looking for the green felt they need to make a dinosaur habitat/find Monster High Doll costumes/buy eggs. But I struggle. I had no idea of the amount of time, energy and dedication schools require of parents.

I’ll get an urgent SMS on a Wednesday at 5pm to send wool and sequins and feathers to school the next morning because they’re making puppets. Wool? You can still buy wool? I live in Green Point. The birds left centuries ago. Cue: a worried child and a mother having a panic attack. And I wonder if life was so crazy for the previous generation of mothers and we were just too busy being kids and self-involved to notice. My mother-in-law (who I think is secretly a saint parading as a human being) had five children in six years in a small apartment in Denmark with no washing machine, disposable nappies or Mr Delivery. The mind boggles. Then again, she didn’t work outside the home, there was no Shimmy’s Beach Bar and they went on holiday exactly once a year to their little house by the sea. While she can only have worked unbelievably hard and deserves every medal going for getting four boys and a girl through toddlerhood and teenagehood without anyone dying, life must have been somewhat simpler.

I heard an interesting saying the other day which sums up this age pretty well – ‘I’m busy therefore I am.’ How true. I know that if I don’t have something to do for five minutes, I go into a panic and start planning a dinner party for twelve. My father-in-law frequently shakes his head at us and asks why we always have to be going somewhere. Good question. Where are we going? Sometimes I actually catch myself running between my office and the loo. And I’m not bursting, and there’s no fire. It just seems like there isn’t a second in the day to waste. There are too many dinosaur nests and deadlines and party invitations and Chef’s Days to deal with. For me, anyway. In order to do this right sometimes I think you’d have to make it your full-time job. Anyhow. I have promised my daughter that tomorrow she will be taking the yummiest, blingiest, most outrageously fabulous Chef’s Day treats with her to school, and again I will endeavour to get my sh?t together, actually press ‘save’ when I enter dates into my phone and be the kind of mother I want to be. On top of stuff and perfect and not guilty quite so often. I can only try.

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27 thoughts on “On Getting the Crap Mother of the Year Prize – Again

  1. …crying with laughter at this all to familiar scenario! Believe it or not, this is a regular occurrence in our house, made worse by having boys who simply do not place the same importance on such things….hence Mommy usually having to run around at the last minute (…yesterday afternoons Sock Puppet fiasco being a good example!). Bottom line for me is that I accept the impossibility of being SuperMom ALL the time….I breathe in….I do what I can…I let go!! Thanks again for the laugh and for reminding me that there are alot of “us” out there ;)

  2. I enjoyed your blog …. I used to be where you are raising 3 kids and being a working mom. My nest recently became empty with the last of my 3 kids deciding to go off to boarding school. My husband and I had a quiet chuckle on Sunday as we felt guilty about having a late morning in on Sunday :) The cycle of life seems to have gone back to before we had kids with nothing but ourselves to please. Enjoy this busy time it goes by so quickly and before you know you will be where I am

  3. Well I sent my kid off to school in pyjamas one week before pyjama day one year, and then proceeded to miss it the next. We all feel better when we share our epic failures. We all have them, but it is a few who are strong enough to share and make the rest of us chuckle and feel a bit better.

  4. Isn’t it crazy what schools expect of parents? It makes me wonder about schools in areas where parents simply do not usually have the time, the money or the wherewithal generally (and I don’t mean that they are unwilling to be involved by the way, just that they’re out of the door by 6am and the kids are themselves caring for siblings etcetera). Do they expect beautifully crafted posters and Baker’s Day Treats and so on? Why do we buy into this and feel so dreadful when -surprise – some of the many spinning plates actually drop?

  5. It’s not just me, then!!!!!! Sjoe, what a relief! I am constantly emailing myself with reminders and then I have to remind myself to check the emails!!!!!A calendar is just not enough when I get carried away with work, homeschooling, chauffeuring, life!!!!! You are awesome, Susan!

  6. lol I am now a grandmother and still rush around like a mad thing (out of habit) and worry when I do not have something urgent to do……..I would have one teenager changing in the back of my little Renault 5 from running to ballet gear, one needing to go to cubs and another to hockey, while i was a full time teacher. It passes before you know it but you never really recover

  7. Can so relate! Its all going too fast and sometimes I feel like I cant do anything else than be a mom. This made me cry! With laughter. And for your little girl who cried into her cheerios. And because I struggle. And because I have 2 kids heading into high school year after next and another who will only be starting Grade R then! Lets hope by then I have it taped!

  8. Oh that was funny and most can relate to it. My kids are now grown and I really don’t think it was as hard years ago.
    I enjoyed your blog about adjusting to SA again and the Camps Bay housekeeper. We had great discussions on FB mostly South Africans and I am a Canadian who loves SA. Everyone agreed you are a very good writer and that you made some very good points. Please keep writing.

  9. ON GETTING THE CRAP MOTHER OF THE YEAR PRIZE – AGAIN, My goodness you made me feel so much better about myself this morning, Yay I’m not the only one. I see you have had some very unpleasant comments on you very entertaining blog, so here is 4 Tickets to Jack Parow at Kirstenbosch Gardens on the Sunday 1 Dec and you can watch the, HOSH TOKOLOSH, WAT SOEK JY IN MY BOS?! Live.. (Email me your contact details please)

  10. I also didn’t know that being a school parent would be my fifth job!
    You remind me of something funny that happened with my two boys. The bigger one was about to wallop the younger one with a huge pillow. The arm was raised, full power at the ready and it looked like it was going to hurt. My little one, 2 at the time, in a panic, flung up his arms and shouted, “NO! I too busy!” The pillow dropped as we all rolled around laughing at the weirdness of his comment but I’m one of those analysers and it made me realise that maybe he has seen his grown ups avoiding things we don’t want by being ‘too busy’. Food for thought it was. And none too comfortable. .

  11. I literally feel exactly like you. I’ve just come across your blog today and I’m still stuck on the kids part. Forgetting parties not getting notes/memos etc. Am I the one mom in the whole school that just doesn’t get the messages? How? Too often I feel like shittest mom of the year… on a lighter note, your style of writing is just brilliant and I am convinced your following wil continue to grow beyond your expectations.

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