The other day I picked up my daughter from school and took her straight to a doctor’s appointment. Just as we arrived I noticed that she had her shoes on the wrong feet. It’s something she does all the time and just as I was just about to tell her that it was high time she knew her left shoe from her right, I realised that this time it was not her fault. It was me who had put her shoes that morning. And they’d been on the wrong feet all day!
We sat down in the waiting room and immediately changed the shoes. Which piqued the interest of a woman sitting next to me. Maybe my age. Perhaps a bit younger. She might have been a mum but she was on her own at that moment.
‘Oh she had them on the wrong feet did she?’ she said with a laugh.
‘It was actually me that put them on this morning would you believe,’ I admitted (stupidly) also with a bit of a laugh.
To which my new friend replied, “Wow, Mother of the Year!”
No longer my friend and obviously not a mum. We laughed a bit more; initially her comment seemed funny. Then I stopped laughing and thought to myself, hang on, you don’t get to say that to me. I’m allowed to make a joke at my own expense. I get to make fun of my dubious parenting skills. Not you.
What about all the good things I did that morning? How I successfully encouraged everyone to have breakfast, get dressed and get out the door in time for school. What about the fact that I made the lunches, got a load of washing on, made the beds, prepared a casserole for dinner, cleaned up the kitchen and hung the clothes on the line – what about all that? Everything done so that when the toddler went down for her sleep, I could write furiously to meet all my deadlines.
Not as interesting as putting my daughter’s shoes on the wrong feet.
And to make matters worse we were at the doctor’s because both girls had a bad case of worms. Even though we had treated them both (and us) the week before.
So not only did I dress my daughter incorrectly possibly causing future feet problems, I allowed her to become infected with worms. Mother of the Year!
I know the woman in the waiting room wasn’t a mother because most mothers know better than to criticise each other. Before children, I was always ready with an opinion on parenting. What you should and shouldn’t do. But now I’m actually a parent, anything goes.
Being a mum is hard enough. Trying to do everything right is near impossible. You just do what you can to get by and naturally every now and again you drop one of the many balls you’re juggling so precariously.
Unfortunately for me it’s usually when someone is watching.
So Happy Mothers' Day to mothers everywhere. Congratulations for all the thousands of things you get right that no-one ever sees. And for knowing that when things occasionally go wrong, it simply doesn't matter.