16 Jul School holidays and Shit-Mother-Guilt
I have a love-hate relationship with school holidays. I love them because it means I can sleep late, I don’t have to freak out over getting kids to school on time, and I can eat all the lunch box treats.
But I also hate school holidays because it means kids are home, breathing my air, and constantly scrapping with each other. Worst of all, I have to contend with that despicable thing called SUPER-MOTHER-HOLIDAY-ASPIRATIONS.
What is that? It’s that feeling you get when your kid asks, ‘What are we gonna do today?’ And you want to get on a plane to Paris where you will meet up with your mythical besties (Beyonce, Serena and Michelle) and do fun things and not even remember for a single moment that you have raggedy kids at home who need to be fed, clothed, entertained, educated and intellectually stimulated. But you can’t. Because there’s these other parents out there called SUPERMOTHERS/FATHERS and their mission in life is to make you look bad with their SUPER-MOTHER-HOLIDAY-ASPIRATIONS.
I’m sure you’ve seen them. They’re the ones who have their child’s holiday all mapped out at least a month in advance. Their kids are signed up for holiday workshops and crafts. They go to exercise programs and they take them to play at the park – so they won’t be fat lazy sloths (like you and your children). They take their children to the beach, a different one every day. And post lots of pics on Facebook about it, where everyone is smiling heaps and nobody gets stung by jellyfish and needs strangers to pee on them (like what happens when you take your children to the beach). They go for hikes and camping trips, and Instagram every joyous moment so that stagnant hermit cave-dwellers like you can see them.
Supermothers/fathers cause us to wallow in bucketloads of SHIT-MOTHER-GUILT, also known as SMG.
SMG tells you that you’re supposed to be planning fabulous activities for your children, for every day of the holidays. SMG says, if you truly loved these blessed blessings from heaven then you would delight in spending every minute of every day of the holidays with them! SMG asks, what the holy hell are you doing? when you go in your room and lock the door and ignore the children and read three books in a row. SMG says, It’s not your holiday slugwoman!
When you tell the children to play Xbox (again), SMG whispers, This is how you teach your children to be killers, thieves, assassins and race car drivers. When you try to argue that Minecraft develops creativity and is all about design and building…SMG shakes it’s head and says, Do you think Obama’s mother let him play Xbox all day? No. Did the Wakanda Dora Milaje warriors get to be kickass by SITTING INSIDE ALL DAMN DAY IN FRONT OF THE TV?! Hell to the no.
SMG shouts – YOU’RE A BAD MOTHER! AND YOUR KIDS ARE ALL GOING TO END UP IN JAIL. (Or working for Donald Trump. Which would be even worse.)
I used to be better at this. A long time ago when I had one kid. Two. Maybe three. But now? I’m old. Tired. And I’m fatter – which means there’s more of me to move when I have to take kids places. These are all valid and Very Important excuses for why I’m not a SuperMother.
My grownup kids will tell you that they did lots of amazing things in their holidays. They will also probably tell you (when I’m not listening) that those amazing activities usually involved plenty of stress and yelling from their mother who was trying to make it into the SUPER-MOTHERS club, and constantly failing.
Because I’ll tell you a secret about SuperMothers. Most of them aren’t as joyous as you think they are. Lots of them are barely holding it together. Some cry themselves to sleep at night, obsessing over what super thing they DIDN’T achieve that day. (I may be speaking from experience here as a former SuperMother… Maybe I was the only one who was struggling and all the other SuperMothers really were joyous?! Aaaaargh.)
Too often, SuperMothers beat themselves up with impossible standards and choke themselves on the self-inflicted guilt of their own failed aspirations. Its understandable though because they also have to put up with all the perfectionist rubbish our society/churches/media/patriarchy throw at them all the time.
So what do we do about shit mother guilt and school holidays? Here’s where I share with you my incredibly clever and creative tips for dealing with SMG. The other day I told them to turn off the Xbox, go outside and wash my car. They got fresh air, sunshine, exercise – and my car got clean. Everybody’s a winner. It’s about multi-tasking and changing our perspective!
Another day, I told them to weed the garden, pick up the rubbish outside, and then bath all the dogs. Every now and again, I looked out the window from my aircon office and gave them encouragement. It was a family bonding activity.
Last weekend, I instructed the teenagers to bake for us. They made decadent chocolate brownies with whipped cream on top. The other child made chocolate oatmeal crisp cookies. I came out of my room when all the treats were ready, and then we ate them together. How’s that for school holiday creativity and fun?!
When all else fails, remind yourself that all good things come to an end, and before you know it, school will start up again. Then you’ll be back to saying bad words as you deal with the morning madness, and rushing kids out of the house.
Just prepare yourself for the SMG that will kick you in the gut, when you’re stuck in traffic and your 10 year old says morosely – “I wish we did something fun in the holidays. We never went anywhere…” This will be the same 10yr old who pleaded every day to be allowed to play Xbox, and who knows all the words to some random Korean soap drama that you can’t understand.
And you will have to deep breathe and remind yourself, Thou shalt not stop your car in the middle of the road and scream at your beloved child.
May the #BadMother force be with you all.