Saturday, July 12, 2003

Oh joy, it's the weekend. How many working mothers spend their week wishing it was the weekend, and their weekend wishing it was the week again?

At work, they don't turn their noses up at your cooking, decline to eat then spend the afternoon complaining of being hungry!

At work, you tidy your own desk, and the area immediately around it. Other people tidy their own. Family, please note! Washed, folded and sometimes even ironed laundry does NOT find its way back to the wardrobe unaided. Neither does food or cutlery saunter onto the dining table without some human input.

On the other hand, you don't get hugs at work just because someone loves you. (Well, most of us would be worried if that did happen!)

Mind you, the reaction is the same at work or home if I mention baking. How to get instant popularity? Do a Nigella Lawson, and forget any pretensions to intellectual capacity! (She's lucky - she's got looks, and brains, AND can cook. Must be the looks I'm missing out on. See my last posting. Sulk.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Today was the first time I've had to buy three pairs of new school shoes - yeech! (For readers not in Scotland, yeech rhymes almost but not exactly with the German "ich"). I had an afternoon off today, and decided that it was better to get new shoes now, rather than wait until just before the new term and risk not finding the right sizes. I planned my battle campaign carefully - each boy took a Gameboy to help them sit patiently. Each was promised a Calypso ice-lolly at home if they behaved - but I would get it if they didn't!

It was a riot in Clarks', I tell you. Did the wee fella want to stand still and get his feet measured? Did he hell! I took a deep breath, flexed my flexible friend to ensure it wouldn't break, then just told them to pick anything they liked so long as it was black. Let's face it, Clarks' shoes aren't cheap - but the difference between "least" and "most" expensive wasn't going to be that great. At least they haven't been coerced into something they didn't like.

We returned home in under an hour - maybe shopping centres aren't as bad as I've always maintained. The parking is cheap, near the store, and the complex is only five minutes' from home. Better than a trip into town, anyway. No-one had blotted their copy-book, and there hadn't been a hint of my notorious tension headaches.

Having enjoyed a week's summer camp with one organisation, my oldest boy was booked to go on a different one later in the summer with a different group. Having been threatened with a "beating up", he (not surprisingly) doesn't want to go. Is this bullying, or isn't it?! You can encourage a kid to go to school and be brave - but why should he "be brave" when a holiday is meant to be something pleasurable and fun? He shouldn't. I thought you'd agree!

Monday, July 07, 2003

Freedom! Yesssss! (The boys have gone to an evening holiday club that's running every night this week.) So what can Supermum do with her two absolutely free hours? No housework, no cooking, no tidying. Maybe I'll just read a good book. Or is that just displacement activity for the short story I could be writing?

Every working mum needs a bolt-hole. When the boys started giggling and sniggering about various parts of Supermum's anatomy - at tea-time, believe it or not! - I told my husband that what I needed was an island, accessible by ferry only in fine weather when the tide was right. Of course, I'd need to scramble a helicopter to get me there in a hurry, but once there, no-one could find me.

I plainly haven't changed very much since the time when I was nine and "ran away from home". I sat in a field full of waist-high grass near my school for an hour, thinking smugly "they'll be sorry now I'm gone". Then went back home, to be informed by an even smugger little sister that "they" weren't sorry, just mad.

Lo and behold, "they" came home, and they were mad. Very mad. Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder, then.

If someone invented respite care for parents, as my husband has been known to say, they'd make an absolute fortune!

Sunday, July 06, 2003

With our two oldest boys back from a week's "camping", the poor old washing machine doesn't know why it's being punished! But I did my strike for equality - the boys did empty their bags and load the washing machine. Just to prove my point that the washing doesn't get done without human intervention - and it doesn't always have to be mine!

Now, of course, they're eager to know what delights are in store for them for the rest of the holidays. I have a pile of pamphlets and brochures, but while Supermum is out at work, I'm afraid the options are hanging around the house with Dad, or a quick visit to their childminder when Dad's out at work. Child tax benefit doesn't take into account what it costs to amuse one's offspring throughout the holidays, does it? (Unless you can prove that they did the same approved, vetted, costly activity for more than a month! And even then it isn't exactly clear if it would count, unless you have a nanny or registered carer.)

What do you do when your child comes in off the street complaining that three other kids were threatening to beat up his friend - then the same kids knock at the door wanting to "play with him" two minutes later? Nah, he isn't coming out to play!

Who said being a Mum was easy?! Funny - you spend all week looking forward to the weekend, then by the end of the weekend you're looking forward to the week ...

Saturday, July 05, 2003

I came of age in the seventies, but finally grew up in the eighties. In those days, we career girls were told we could have it all - the job, the partner and the kids. All at once, successfully, with no hassle. Easy peasy - just take a deep breath and off you go.

Well, the eighties came and went. I bought the philosophy, married the husband but hadn't quite got round to the kids. By the nineties, I was beginning to realise that I'd be a geriatric mum or no mum at all! But I still clung onto that supermum myth.

"You won't manage it", said the Prophet of Doom. (My mum, that is.) "It'll all be too much for you."

Sniff. We needed my job if we were to contemplate having a family. No choice, believe me.

Somehow I've come through the sleepless nights, the anxious calls from childminder ("he's been a bit sick - would you like to come and take him home?"), and the notes from nursery ("Next week we are having a fancy dress party, and children are asked to bring a costume ..."). Our third son starts school in August.

But supermum? I think not! The ironing basket sits on top of the freezer, with a nasty menacing smirk on its face. The fuller it gets, the worse its expression. There's a huge pile of washing sort-of-folded waiting (for me, of course) to put it away. A load of laundry in the machine, another load waiting to go in, huge piles of mail waiting to be dealt with or filed, and to top it all, it's going to be a wet weekend.

I might present a public image of Supermum - but privately, it's more like controlled chaos!