Over the past few weeks, it has come to my attention that I will almost certainly not be winning Mum of the Year 2015. In fact, I don’t even think I’ll get nominated. I thought I was a pretty good parent when Ebony was a baby, I felt like I’d found my calling in life. In the past three and a half years, I’ve probably had about two weeks worth of sleep, and it’s starting to take its toll. My parenting skills are not what they were. I don’t know if it’s because parenting gets harder as your kids grow, or whether I’m just suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, but I’m definitely lacking in the parenting credentials.
Here are just 10 of the reasons why I won’t be taking home the Mum of the Year award this year:
1. I forgot Pirate Day
I’m sure that there was a time in my life where I was organised. Though to be honest, it could have just been that I was living at home and had my dad to remind me of everything I needed to do. These days, I’m struggling to keep track of All The Things. Preschool exploit this by sending home a letter six weeks about something in advance, and then never mentioning it again. Thanks to this, I tried to drop Ebony off at the polling station on election day, almost sent her in with unbrushed hair on picture day, and, most recently, forgot about Pirate Day. It was a hot day, and me and Ebony were up early (still late, but not as late as usual). We were both dressed in our summer outfits, slathered in sun cream and wearing sunglasses. We were almost on time. Just as we were stepping out of the door, Ebony said, “It’s Pirates Day. That’s why I’m dressed as a pirate.” Obviously, she was not dressed as a pirate because whose summer best features an eye patch? Shit shit shit. We had to run back inside and desperately try to scrape together a pirate outfit. Shorts? Check. Long sleeve winter striped top on the hottest day of the year? Check. Pirate hat? Not so much. Eye patch? Lost in the hellhole that is our playroom. We were fifteen minutes late for Pirate Day. I had to pay in coppers because I didn’t have any socially acceptable coins on me. And, when I picked her up, I discovered they’d redressed her in a better pirate outfit.
2. I don’t put the hose pipe away properly
Our hose pipe is free-range. I don’t like to hold inanimate objects captive, so I leave it free to snake around the garden as it wishes. This is probably a health hazard. After witnessing a couple of falls, my parents decided they would have to step in to protect their only grandchild. They brought us one of those wheels to wind it on. Which is great, and everything, but hose pipes are actually very dirty, and I kept getting covered in crap. So sometimes (all the time), I forget to wind it back up properly. One day, Ebony summoned me as she was playing in the garden. “Mummy, erm, Papa brought this so that the hose pipe would be safer. It’s dangerous. I fell over. So, erm, can you please try to put it away properly next time so I can play without getting hurt? Look at my knee!”
3. She calls me Fiona Boner
My three year old has developed an unfortunate rhyming habit. She says cock a lot because it rhymes with other words. She also calls me Fiona Boner. A lot. Obviously I know this is simply an unfortunate coincidence. But the cashier in Sainsbury’s does not know this. In fact, she probably thinks it’s a nickname I created myself and forced Ebony to call me.
4. I didn’t take a raincoat
Last week, we met up with Ebony’s friend, George, for a bike ride. It was very warm. Most importantly, Ebony’s balance bike is actually insanely heavy. I knew I would end up carrying it for miles, so decided to pack light. No coats. After two hours of balance biking away from the train station, monsoon season started. It rained solidly for the 30 minutes it took us to get back to the train. Ebony was wearing a thin, cotton summer dress. Very cute, but not great for a half hour extreme version of the ice bucket challenge. She cried. She shivered. Her hands went blue. George was fine, his mum brought a raincoat.
5. I cannot get up in the mornings
I am not exaggerating when I say that I am the tiredest person ever. If there’s an award for that, I’ll win it. I am almost always awake, and almost always moaning about exhaustion. There just isn’t enough sleep. I have never been a morning person. Even back in the days when sleep was plentiful, I struggled with the transition between night and day. Now, it’s even worse. I just do not want to get up. Ever. To handle this as a parent, I put a dollhouse in Ebony’s room. She plays with it by herself most mornings as I beg her for just five more minutes. Then she looks at her books. Then she gets herself a snack. Then, usually, she is able to rouse me from my sleep and insist I wake up. But sometimes, on very tired days, I send her off again with Sesame Street to watch on my phone.
6. I go out too much
This is a new thing. For the first two years of Ebony’s life, I was pretty much a hermit. I usually did bedtime, and I preferred staying in so I could be there if she woke up and needed me. Then I went to Amsterdam for my best friend’s hen do and remember how nice it is to have a social life. And since then I’ve been going out more. Everytime I go out, Ebony shouts, “It’s too many weeks, Mummy! You go out too many weeks! Stay with meeee!” Or at least I think that’s what she says, it’s hard to hear over the sound of me slamming the door and skipping down the street (just kidding… sort of).
7. The playroom is too messy
Our playroom is not on Pinterest. You have more chance of seeing it on an episode of Kim & Aggie. It’s just so messy. Even when it’s tidy, it’s still messy. Nothing has a place, there is no tidy storage, there is just crap. Crap everywhere. It tumbles out across the floor, so walking through the room is a bit like one of the tyre jump exercises army cadets do. But worse, because if you misjudge your step, you stand on playmobil.
8. I sometimes ignore her
I don’t spend my evenings looking up craft ideas on Pinterest, and I’ve never done anything suggested by Imagination Tree. There just always seems to be so much to do. I think I’ve spent the last few months gardening, painting and organising the house. And while I’ve been doing all of that, Ebony has been keeping herself entertained. Independent play is one of her strengths, through neglect.
9. I am rubbish at playing
The truth of the matter is that I’m just not as fun as daddy. I can make butterflies from pipe cleaners and beads, I can read stories until we are out of books, and I can soothe just about any upset she has. But I’m not daddy. I don’t pretend the sofa is a pirate ship and spend two hours on an elaborate treasure hunt. I don’t pretend the living room is littered in pirate-hungry sharks. I don’t spends hours on end playing doctors, taking on the roles of doctor, nurse and receptionist all at once. Her excitement each Saturday morning when she discovers it is the weekend simply reminds me that I am not as fun as Laurie.
10. My kid eats a lot of pasta
I always think Ebony is quite good with food. She eats her vegetables, empties the fruitbowl almost daily, and never cries for sweets in the supermarket. She has a big appetite, and eats a good variety of food. She eats swirly pasta, straight pasta, long pasta and little pasta. She will eat other foods, but if given a choice, it’s usually pasta. And I just go along with that because, well, pasta is easy, isn’t it?