All These Cartoons About Mothers Overjoyed at the Kids Going Back to School.
Call me a jumbo dumbo but WHY is everyone so excited?! Granted, my kids have driven me bonkers in other ways this summer (leaving their underwear ALL over the house, never switching a single fan off after leaving a room and hardly ever remembering their sunglasses or sunhats in this intense Mediterranean heat) BUT I’m still not filled with glee at them going back to school.
If you’ve read my post about the Exhausted School Mother you’ll have a pretty good idea of:
Why I’m Dreading the New School Year.
In the space of just one week of the first term last year, I managed to:
– mistake day two of the cycle for day one
– dressed K in P.E. clothes when they didn’t have P.E.
– dropped them off late twice
– left K’s folder at home twice
– forgot to listen to Dreamy D read his book
– didn’t get round to buying the mini whiteboard requested by his teacher
– and ‘overlooked’ the twelve – yes TWELVE (that’s what you get for having so many kids) – forms that needed completing and signing.
In fairness, the latter was sort of intentional: I ‘overlooked’ them until I had a sufficient supply of wine to help me cope with completing the whole damned lot. But let me explain:
Why I’m Not Putting up the Bunting to Celebrate The Start of Another Academic Year in:
1) INSTEAD OF LYING IN TIL LATE O’CLOCK enjoying the peace because MDK creep downstairs quietly and get their own breakfast and then switch on the TV (yes my kids do this because they know Mummy would love to raiser her kids on zero screen time but #LetsHaveAGoodLaughAboutThatOne)
I NOW HAVE TO GET UP EARLY AND FACE THE DAY. Anyone who’s ever met me will know I have never coped well with this and cannot gel with the “I’ll sleep when I die” motto because when I’m dead I won’t have the satisfaction of waking up and looking back at a great night’s sleep because I will be dead…
You KNOW I”m right (unless you’re up half the night with your kids in which case, sorry, sleep when you’re dead).
2) INSTEAD OF YELLING AT THEM FOR not being able to pack a single swimming essential or beach item the entire school holidays despite practically living on the beach every long hot Maltese summer
I AM NOW YELLING AT THEM FOR not being able to put their reading book/homework/school folder/lunch box – in fact anything – in their bags despite two of them having attended school for several years. “Ooh I wonder where they get that from then Prabs…” Stop it. “You know yelling doesn’t achieve anything right Prabs?” I said stop it.
3) IN PLACE OF ENDLESSLY RUNNING AROUND the pool/beach searching for their swimming goggles, flip flops etc after a day of swimming,
I WILL BE ENDLESSLY GOING BACK THROUGH THE SCHOOL GATES every afternoon to go up to the classroom (ha! classroom x 3) just as everyone else is trying to come through the gates the other way, to try and find water bottles, hats, clothing etc
4) I HAVE SWAPPED TWO MONTHS OF SINKING INTO A SUN LOUNGER after mentally high-fiving myself for my kickass organisation because I’ve packed everything we need for a Summer’s day out [see 28 Reasons],
FOR NINE MONTHS OF SINKING INTO DESPAIR having actually high-fived the teacher because I’ve remembered everything from sports gear to school trip money to art class clothes, only for her to say “You remembered his library book right?” following it up with “Oh bless…shall I move in with you to help, love?”
Seriously…this actually has happened!
5) INSTEAD OF REALISING I’VE HARDLY GOT ANY FOOD IN THE HOUSE but it’s no biggie cos I can jolly well give them pancakes if I want to (or another bowl of cereal)
I NOW HAVE TO GET MY SHIT TOGETHER AKA actually planning lunches and snacks…oh God the planning…it just kills me.
6) RATHER THAN JUST ENJOYING THE BENEFITS OF MDK relaxing, playing, not getting in my hair at all and being super low maintenance housemates
I WILL BE SPENDING FIVE DAYS a week ferrying them around the island to tennis, football, swimming and choir (well alright, not quite ‘around the island’…more like within a one mile radius..but FIVE days MAN!).
7) AND DON’T GET ME STARTED on all the time spent trawling through every computer I’ve owned trying to find old photos for some project or another, spending my mornings running around buying items for various school productions and my evenings gritting my teeth doing internet research to help them create – oh hang on, help me create on their behalf – presentations.
8) AND DEFINITELY DON’T GET ME STARTED on…cue Pyscho’s shower scene music……MATHS HOMEWORK HELL!
9) BUT WORST OF ALL, THERE IS MY OWN TOTAL BEWILDERMENT OVER HOW LITTLE I GET DONE DURING THE DAY now that Cheeky K is finally at big school with her siblings.
I honestly struggle to the point of depression over not being able to find enough days or hours in the week to fit in the housework, school run, blogging, after-school activities and (dare I say it) some exercise…and I’m a stay at home mum for goodness sake! What’s my excuse?! Working mothers have it far worse; alright the blog is my work and I take it seriously but it’s not the same as having an actual job with an employer and official working hours and all that jazz.
I Can Feel a Blog Post Coming on About Trying to Manage it all.
It will be very short post and will consist mainly of me crying all over the computer and typing “Just. Can’t.” and possibly ending with a plea for free chocolate.
So no, dear reader, I am not shouting Hooray at going back to school. (Well silently mouthing it at the thought of going for a coffee alone I admit…)
Can you relate? If so, what’s the bit you dread most about the school year?
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Wow they’re really quiet. Are they still alive? I’d better go check on them. I’ll check in a minute. Just after I’ve had two more minutes sleep. Better not get into a deep sleep. Yep that’s done it. Can’t sleep now. So much to do. House is such a mess. Boy do I need a cleaning lady…preferably one who doesn’t throw saucepans like that looney tunes one…nice saucepan it was too. Ucch, what’s the point? She’d just clean around the mess. The mess would still be there taunting me…’go ahead Prabs…do your best…you can never get rid of me’. So sick of doing all the cleaning myself…okay there’s no ‘all’…if I did it ‘all’ the house wouldn’t be such a state.
Best get up. I wonder how many seconds of solitary bum on seat time I’ll get before the first one appears at the door. I could just play dead. Not that it ever works. They still call my name clearly not realising I’m unable to answer in my fake dead state. We really need to replace this bathroom mirror. Holy crap, is that a wrinkle?! It’s that Paddington frown a mate told me I had. It’s causing wrinkles. I never even realised Paddington frowned. He’s just a cute bear who loves marmalade isn’t he? Oh we’re out of marmalade. Must get some. Must get a lot of things. I really want that mummy organiser chalk board thing I saw online. At least I’d use mine unlike my kids and that enormous chalk board I spent frigging ages painting onto that wall in their playroom. So glad I passed up on watching the entire Sex and the City box set and opted for losing hours of my life wrestling with masking tape and blackboard paint instead.
What on earth are they fighting about now? Sure isn’t which one of them uses the chalk board the most. Wait, what I was thinking about? Oh yes, if only I could have one of those naturally smiley faces. What do they say? A smile uses fewer facial muscles than a frown. Wow if that’s true, then my face sure does get a daily work out. How did that mum at school manage that perma-smile? The one who said she pulls up in the car park and ‘puts her smile on’ before getting out to fetch the kids. I tried that for a week and everyone kept asking if I was feeling alright. I must have looked constipated. Hang in there. Only 12 more hours til their bedtime. I can do this. They’re good kids. What the hell is M screaming for now? Honestly, I don’t know where she gets it from…
Please God let this be the one morning where they brush their teeth and get dressed and make their beds without acting like it’s the first time they’ve ever had to get ready in the morning. Sick of yelling 300 times before even leaving the house. Actually I’m a bit calmer than that. 200 times. That’s right K, the least messy eater, you pick today – the day after I washed the floor – to throw the cereal all over the breakfast bar and floor and completely miss your mouth darling.
Oh no, the lunch boxes…I’m losing the will to live. Why do kids need to eat anyway? Can’t believe I used to get the lunches done in the evening before I’d even put the kids to bed…who the hell was that Prabs? Why does Hubster have to be away for work again? It’s so inconvenient. Doesn’t he know it really hampers the timely preparation of the lunchboxes now that he’s unwittingly taken over with that? Nothing in the cupboard. Nothing in the fridge. What am I going to give them? How does that women have the energy to run a daily blog dedicated to lunch box ideas when I can’t even dedicate the energy to making one freaking lunch box?
How is it possible to take SO long to get shoes on one’s feet? I should just put them to bed with their shoes on at night. I swear it would be less hassle. Jeez what has she got in this school bag? A ton of crap but barely a school book; it’s just a kids’ garbage unit on straps.
Right what’s the plan for today? In other words, what is the path of least fannying about and most productivity? Food shopping, cleaning, blog, cooking dinner, drinking cappuccinos? Let me just check my emails. Can’t I just hire someone to do that for me? Seriously, 5 email accounts, My poor brain can’t stay on top of it. I’m sure someone’s going to knock on the door with some kind of legal summons ordering me to immediately look at all 3490 of my unread emails. Right, that’s emails (kinda), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, some other blogs done. Okay, got to get on with morning errands. Wow, it’s lunchtime. Better eat something then.
No way! It’s time to go get them already? So it’s 10 out of 10 for fannying about….aaaand a big fat zero for productivity. No wait, 3 points for blogging. Oh for goodness sake, who on earth gives themselves points?! But they should have a reward chart for mothers.
Homework. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see it. But I did see it. Crap. Here we go. Another two hours of my life wasted. I suddenly feel the urge to go paint another chalk board somewhere. My brain just isn’t wired for homework help.
I still haven’t replied to that birthday party invite. Where’s her number? Crap, I threw the invite in the recycling bag. Of all the weeks to actually put the recycling bag out on time, I had to choose this one. I need to peel these potatoes and boil them; the oven’s already been on for ages. Ooh I should offer to make that choc dessert for that drinks party next week. Let me just quickly message her before I forget. No, I’d better do the potatoes. How important is it to RSVP to that birthday party? Oh crappimingus, I forgot to get back to my friend about meeting up – especially as her hubby’s away. Boy do I know what it’s like to be a work widow; could never go back to it again… Changing every nappy, doing every lunch box, cooking every meal, washing every dish, doing every school run, fixing every broken down thing, helping on every bit of homework, coping with every lonely weekend while everyone else has their family one… Wow the kitchen sure is hot…oh the oven’s on…oh damn, the potatoes! Haven’t peeled them yet.
Need to make a floral head dress for that party. It’s a Swedish thing. Man, do I have to? I really don’t ‘make’ stuff, apart from a big deal out of nothing…and the occasional cake. And I can’t wear a garden on my head. Can’t I just play the Indian card and say we don’t do stuff like that? Sodding potatoes are over boiled. I need to book the babysitter for the night of that drinks party. I can’t book her again for the following night for the Midsummer’s party though. Can’t we just superglue the kids to their beds and leave them home alone? No, bad idea. What’s wrong with me.
Please tell me I’ve got butter for the potatoes. Need to get that laundry in. It’s been on the line for 2 days. Going to get bitten by mosquitoes doing it though which is why it’s been on the line for 2 days. What am I going to do with these potatoes? They’re falling apart. Is it bad I’m giving them packet fish? The filling did look good and they’re so quick and easy to make. Definitely no E numbers or additives. It’s not THAT bad is it? Let me recheck the ingredients. Shit. Vegetable oil. They don’t say if it’s hydrogenated or not. Which means it blooming well is. Heaven help me, I’m slowly poisoning my family. Well actually Hubster doesn’t care. So correction: I’m slowly poisoning myself and the kids. Just don’t know what to feed them anymore. Don’t feed them dairy cos of a hundred different reasons. Don’t give them meat cos of a hundred other reasons. Careful with fruit and veg and pesticides. Eat carbs but avoid gluten. If the food doesn’t kill you, the stress of what to feed them will. My brain hurts.
OMG that form the school sent home…eight drinks to choose from for the end of year school trip and seven of them were fizzy! Jamie Oliver would have a seizure. Ooh I must try that chicken recipe he did on TV the other night. 15 minute meals my eye. The man’s a liar. I’m a liar…Can’t believe I told that woman I was a former driving instructor just to shut her up when she drove towards me the wrong way down that street. Need to stop doing that. Told that argumentative unhelpful shop assistant I was a trading standards official too. Honestly, who does that kind of thing? (Well…there was that friend who posed as a police officer more than once…) Oh that’s just great: I wrecked the potatoes. How does anyone wreck potatoes? Bet Jamie wouldn’t. Man, I need a glass of wine. Only 2 more hours til their bedtime. Hang in there. Wait, where are they? They’re really quiet. I hope they’re still alive. I’d better go check on them. I’ll check in a minute. Just after had two sips of wine.
This one’s for all the amazing mothers out there!
A while ago, I had one of those busier than normal weeks. You know, where you wonder why everything has to happen at the same blooming time. Cheeky K and Dreamy D had birthdays 3 days apart…annoyingly this happens every year…beats me…;) so I spent the week eyeball deep in baking, sleepovers and parties. You know how it goes. In the midst of this, I made my first ever appearance on radio (can you appear on radio?) and finally after much procrastination, launched this blog. And frankly it was as much as I could handle.
It also led me to think ‘How do all those other mothers do it? You know the ones: they’re at your kids’ school or you’ve known them since you all met at antenatal classes or you bumped into them at playgroup or you met them at a birthday party or…holy Henry you’re ONE OF THEM! They work, they fundraise, they organise school events, arrange elaborate parties for their kids, chauffeur their charges from one activity to another and still find time to hit the gym and have a social life. Oh and did I mention? They’re usually reeealllly nice people too. Dammit. I swear, they’re everywhere.
Take my friend D for example. PLEASE, someone take her and shake some laziness and mediocrity into her. The woman is a machine. She works as a fitness coach, she has run marathons, she raises money for Inspire etc, she does tonnes of stuff with her two kids, she rustles up healthy meals for her familia and fits in a packed social life. (And there’s no under-achieving hubby ‘balancing things out’ in the background; he’s an ultra-marathoner/Ironman type. Someone punch me in the face now.) Yet despite this jam-packed lifestyle, she still manages to get to bed by 10pm. Ah…maybe that’s the secret…but I’m sure if I did as much as her, I’d never even make it to bed. I’d either fall asleep on the stairs trying to get there or wouldn’t have time to sleep in the first place.
Seriously, I’d love to say I only know a few uber-mothers like this just for my own self esteem (and Sliema Sexy aka Marilyn Munroe, don’t tell me off for that last bit). But no…the list just goes on and on and bloody ON. The world is full of them! These super mamas who fit several lives into one life and get more done in one day than I get done in a month. Honestly, I practically high-five myself if I just make it to two supermarkets in one morning. Actually, practically NOTHING. I do high five myself when that happens.
Then there’s my sis M.E. She had to go back to work far too soon after the birth of her first child. It broke her heart. She had to put in 12 hour+ days producing conferences while trying to juggle everything including the shock of new motherhood (with a baby who also had health problems). When she found out she was pregnant a second time, she was up to her eyeballs pulling 3am sleeps because not only was she was working long days in an absurdly stressful job but she was also putting together a business by night! Add to that, going abroad for work and you have to wonder how the heck she still squeezed in time to bake, do crafts and take her son to activities! There is some help from our mum when possible but she’s not nearby. So it’s my sis and her hubby and the temporary relief provided by school/daycare as is the case for millions for parents worldwide. And yes her husband also wears XXL super hero pants. No, not because he’s big; but because his fatherly dedication is.
But this post isn’t about the amazing dads out there (sorry, fellas, I’m sure I’ll get round you at some point). It’s about the amazing mothers. Yay!
And whilst I may not be an uber-mama, I would just like to say that the other day, I did a big grocery shop, completed several laundry loads, tackled the growing mess on two of our terraces, did some cleaning, worked on the blog, did the usual 3 school runs, made waffles for afterschool tea, did homework duty, made a fab photo-worthy fisherman’s pie for supper, found time to catch 15 minutes of sofa time hugs with the babies and a cup of tea and even got them to bed on time. GO TEAM PRABS! ActualIy, I thought the real me had been abducted by aliens and was reclining on a sofa being fed grapes by minions in an alternative universe while this uber-organised impostor got busy running a tight ship in my house back on planet earth. Okay, so I may not have worked out a solution for the third world debt crisis but THIS was a very successful day for me!
Anyway, the point is, that’s not my typical day. My typical day? Well, it usually goes something like this:
– Crawl out of bed at not-early-enough o’clock, SO not ready to face the day.
– Endure the hell known as the morning routine which I guess most mothers can relate to where you literally sound like a broken record endlessly repeating the same set of requests and instructions (which FYI you’ll be repeating when they’re 18).
– Waste time hunting for the house key or the car key or my brain (or various combinations of all three).
– Accuse the four year-old of hiding the missing keys. “Prabs, why don’t you have a specific storage place for your keys?” I hear you say. We do. Thanks for asking. What’s your point?
– Find the keys.
– Apologise to four year old.
– By some miracle, get us all out the door for the school run (it IS a miracle which I aim to describe in anatomic detail in a future post).
– Drive like a mother****** (I mean drive like a mother) arriving at school, tyres smoking Starsky and Hutch stylie.
– Open my door, not before catching a horrified glimpse in the rearview mirror of breakfast still smeared on cheeks and unbrushed birds’ nest hair (and that’s just me).
– Drop off M and D, head to the second school and drop off Cheeky K and then finally drop off hubster at work.
That’s the most productive part of the day. Then it usually goes downhill, a bit like this scene from a couple of months ago:
– After drop off, I went food shopping and got home to discover one of the grocery bags was missing and had to drive back, finding it in the supermarket carpark (that’s nothing; I once had to go all the way back to the airport to try to find a baby buggy that I’d managed to forget (see 10 Signs of the Scatty Mama).
– Of course this was on the same day where I skipped packed lunches in order to take them pizza later (a plan which doesn’t always work out too well as described here). I’d lost so much time with the ‘bag recovery mission’ that I barely had time to do anything before it was time to leave again to go drop off the pizza and their rainwear. So how did I wisely use my time? Yep, by running around like a lunatic trying to find my keys for the bazillionth time in blind panic; they get a measly 15 minutes to eat their lunch at my kids’ school so delivering it even a couple of minutes late is bad news.
– I finally found the keys in the wrong bowl and pulled them out with a huge sigh of relief. Crap…they were just the house keys…still no car key. ‘No problem. I’ll call it’, I thought to myself (you know the way you call your cellphone from the landline when you misplace it and DON’T tell me you never do that). I then spent what felt like an age trying to figure out why my key wasn’t ringing in response to my call. No, I didn’t make that up. I really called my key from my home phone.
– Then I realised I a) have clearly had way too many kids so b) have way too few brain cells left and c) I seriously need a voice-activated Prabsmobile, no damned key required.
– Eventually, with the lunch bell already having rung at school and me still stuck at home (actually shouting obscenities at myself in mind-bending frustration), I called my lovely friend Baker Lady who thank God lives around the corner from me and who generously (translation: insanely) let me borrow her car. Seriously, I wouldn’t let me borrow my own car given this track record of scattiness.
– I climbed in, looked round to make sure there was a car seat I could use for Cheeky K only to find the back seats down and a ton of unmoveable stuff in the back, said my prayers about driving someone else’s car in the rain and decided not to worry just yet about where I was going to put K. One mercy dash to school in the pouring rain later (not even gonna say what time I dropped off the pizza), it was time to head to the nursery to fetch my youngest (whose face was a picture when she noticed a lovely 4×4 instead of mummy’s heap of metal).
– I crawled along dodging the ‘pools’ that form on the roads here when it rains, weather which seems to bring out the most excellent driving skills among the people of this island. Honestly, it’s like all that other dumb-ass driving they do (stuff you wouldn’t even believe) is just a rehearsal. You know the expression ‘to save something for a rainy day’? Well here, they save their really bat-shit crazy driving for a rainy day.
– Anyway, where was I headed? To the car hire people to fetch the spare key AGAIN. I tell you, it’s a good thing we drive a hire car here instead of our own because there would be nobody to bail us out if we (I mean I) lost the key to ours. I’ve done it so many times that I’m surprised they don’t just lock the door and hide under their desks when they see me coming. I’m not even going to try to describe the look on the manager’s face when I suggested I keep the spare to avoid me having to go to their office each time I misplace the original.
– Finally, most of my day wasted, I drove a nerve-wracking drive home (tense partly due to the thought that I may have to stump up a daft amount of money for a replacement key if I didn’t find the original and partly due to the number of geniuses overtaking on bends or pulling out suddenly from side roads IN THE RAIN. I honestly don’t remember how many times I reversed down narrow roads to let drivers through, all of whom can grip a steering wheel with one hand and yet none of whom can use the other hand to effing thank someone who reverses all the way down a road IN THE RAIN for them. Mind you, it is hard to thank another driver when your ‘free’ hand is busy holding a phone isn’t it?
– I dropped the car back at Baker Lady’s house and then walked home with Cheeky K both of us getting wet in the rain, only to find my own key in the very bag I didn’t bother looking in as there was ‘no way the key would be there’. By now, I literally had one hour left to eat and do jobs before heading out to fetch M and D.
– Now, we get to the bit where I honestly considered lying about what I managed to do next. I collected them both, got back in my car and started off down the road. No sooner had I turned the corner from the school than the car ground to a halt. I had three hungry kids in the car, was in the middle of a quiet residential road where I knew nobody and couldn’t call hubster for help as he was thousands of miles away on a work trip.
Why did it grind to a halt? Yep…you’ve guessed. No petrol left in the tank.
I could describe the look on the face of the car hire company manager when he turned up…I honestly think he wanted to strangle me…but I think I’ve said enough. My work is done here.
So, long story long, if you ever see me, feel free to think “I don’t know how she does it. No really, I don’t know HOW she does it!” Then cross the road and quickly walk away from me before you catch scattybrainitis.
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There’s a certain female chef on TV…I won’t say her name cos I’m too damn chicken…she’s Australian though. I can’t decide whether I love her or hate her. I think it’s a bit of both. I love her for the yummy oh-so-simple peach and almond tart she’s introduced into my family’s lives. I quite liked her red fruit millefeuille and Thai fishcakes but I aged about 20 years watching her slow-roasted lamb recipe (and quietly wondered if Australians don’t actually have to pay electricity bills as they seem rather obssessed with slow roast dishes which take two days to make).
Hubster recently went to Australia on business and his business contact invited him for dinner and made a roast lamb dish that took about seven hours to cook. If I roasted something in my oven for that long, the Maltese Electricity Board would hunt me down as I’d have single-handedly caused an energy crisis.
Anyway, just as I was warming to this Australian female celebrity chef whose name I’m still feeling cowardly to reveal (all I’ll give you is that she wears a lot of white), she embarks on a blueberry muffin recipe with the opening line “I love this recipe as I can make these while my kids are still sleeping so I can get lovely warm muffins in their lunch boxes by the time they’re ready for school”.
Let me tell you how the mornings go down in my house: I run around like a lunatic with wild hair trying to dress myself, reminding three kids to brush their teeth and wash their faces etc like I’m saying it for the first time each and every bloody time, locating missing library books, rolling my eyes while they take forever to eat breakfast, raiding the fridge and cupboards for vaguely healthy lunchbox ingredients and generally losing the will to live.
This woman gets up and BAKES MUFFINS.
It’s a good job she’s in Australia. It’s too far for me to go just to punch her.