May 13th. In fact, to be more precise it’s Friday the 13th of May and it’s my mother’s birthday today. The kids and I have called her and left a message on their answer machine of us all singing happy birthday in four different keys. Then she has called us back, or to be more exact, Dad must have dialled our number and she said “hello” as I answered the phone. “Who is this?” she demanded, as I wished her a happy birthday again. “Sarah, Mum,” I told her, forcing a smile on my face. “It’s only Sarah. How are you birthday girl? Have you had a lovely day?”
“Did you get my card? I sent it in the post.”
“Yes, there are flowers all over the place.”
“Oh well, that’s good.”
She has no idea it’s her birthday and would struggle to tell me her age if I asked her. I won’t, because there is no point. Dad says it has been a “pretty good day”, which could mean anything from she has not been aggressive or angry at all today to she has only tried to force him out the house twice! I don’t ask what scale he is working off today. It somehow doesn’t seem to matter. He says it has been a good day and that is good enough for me – for today at least!
I have been on a school trip with Archie and all his class. We went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and we’ve had a great day out looking at Henry Moore sculptures and walking around a beautiful country estate. We even got chance to build our own sculptures out of wood, tyres, metal pipes, wooden blocks, bricks and paving slabs, piping, long twigs and planks of wood and bits of scrap metal – it was fabulous fun and I’ve had a lovely lovely day, watching my son interact with his friends. The best bit was catching him looking at me proudly, interacting with me and his friends excitedly as I captained his team and we worked together to build our fabulous creation.
It was a few weeks ago when he asked me if I’d go on the school trip with them. This was the first time he’d ever asked me and it felt like a perfect opportunity to try and do it – to rearrange work so that I can show my son I put him and his needs first. So, I checked the rota for work and ensured I could sort out cover for getting Mabel to creche and then a day or two later asked him to confirm to his teachers that I would love to go as a helper. He returned from school quite sad that night to inform me that the teachers had enough helpers and so I wouldn’t be needed. Well! I was livid. I have never before been asked by my son to go on a trip and from what he had told me it was the same mums who were going on this trip that seemed to go on all the school trips. The mums who didn’t work or who were available and able to volunteer for most school things. I reacted completely disproportionately (as is my want) and wrote a letter to the teachers informing them of my disappointment and that I had not known it was decided on a first come first served basis and that I thought they should re-think the way they did these things. I am so like my mum sometimes – fiercely protective and lioness-like when it comes to my kids, which can sometimes lead to my complete and utter embarrassment hours or days later!
Sure enough, I got a call from school to say it was all a misunderstanding and of course I could go, they would love for me to attend. Humble pie was eaten (by me) as I spoke to the teacher this morning and apologised for my over-reaction. Not at all, she said. We have decided to re-think how we do it in future and will be asking all parents to add their names to a list if they are interested in helping on school trips so that we don’t always rely on the same ones, she said. Good, I said.
So, my humble pie was at least edible and my over-reactive letter has at least resulted in a small amount of action, so that other mothers may have the opportunity to share special moments with their children as they are growing up.
I remember my mum came on lots of school trips with us as kids and I loved it. I loved her being there and was always proud of her and I saw the same pride in my son’s face today. “My friends all want to be in your group,” he told me. Thank God, thought I – at least it’s not the opposite, then I’d be humiliated, or perhaps I’d again be livid and have to try and stop my self from over-reacting again. Oh Mum! Sometimes I hear you in me and see you in my actions and my responses to situations and despite my embarrassment or over-reaction at times, there is comfort in knowing you are so close. That you are in me and that you shine out of me sometimes.
You’d have loved today being with us on our trip today, Mum. Happy birthday you crazy old bird.