I’ve just told the kids that I’m taking a coffee break. I opened my lap top, and said I have a bit of work to catch up on. I’m on Twitter. I am a bad mother.
The coffee break is because I just spent the last forty-five minutes making toast and a giant cheese and tomato omelette. And getting drinks of water and cleaning up spilled milk. I am a good mother.
The milk was spilled by my six-year-old, after I asked her to help with pouring drinks. “Oh no!” I said crossly when it happened, “Quick, grab some kitchen roll!” It wasn’t her fault. I shouldn’t be cross. I am a bad mother.
“I’m sorry mum, I’m really sorry,” she said.
My voice switched from cross to kind. “Don’t worry, it was an accident. Not your fault at all. I just needed to clean it as quickly as possible.” She smiled, relieved. I am a good mother.
Yesterday morning was similar, except I was genuinely working, not mindlessly scrolling Twitter. And I made sure they were all busy before I got started – one reading her library book, two playing school out in the garden. I am a good mother.
The two little school players came racing in to tell me there was blue paint all over the floor, and all over their jackets. I was cross with them as I cleaned up – what had they been thinking, opening poster paints without asking. Of course, if I’d been supervising properly, I’d have known. I am a bad mother.
Later we went out to meet to friends. The kids walked up hills and clambered down rocks. They picked wild flowers. They ran ahead and lagged behind – exploring, adventuring. Fresh air and exercise, for three hours. I am a good mother.
Well except for the small boy, who regularly ran off into the undergrowth on his own, and refused to come back. Or stopped in the middle of the path and refused to keep going. “My legs ran out of batteries he said,” as I stooped to pick him up. I had a stash of Celebrations left over from Christmas in my bag. Each time I ran out of ways to convince him to keep going, or ran out of energy to carry him, I popped a sweet into his mouth. And he then he kept going. I am a bad, bad mother.
When we got home, the four-year-old wanted to help with dinner. I set him up with a chopping board and some red pepper and got him to work. He loves helping, and I’m certain it’s good for his fine motor skills and confidence. I am a good mother.
Then he threw some milk into the chicken, and I ran out of patience. “Oh look, it’s six o’clock – time for TV – off you go!” I said. I am a bad mother.
My coffee break is nearly over. But there’s just enough time to eat a mini Daim egg without anyone noticing. I am a bad mother. Actually, I’m saving them from themselves – I am a good mother.
Or maybe just an average mother on an average day – maybe?