For every time I feel like I’m doing okay at this mum thing, there are 10 other times I feel like such a big fat failure.
I missed Julian’s first big year-end performance for the stupidest, most unavoidable, and unbelievable reason.
We had made it just in time to drop him off outside his classroom, where all his friends were already filing up and dressed in their adorable costumes. There were firefighters, robots and princesses, holding hands and chatting.
I threw him his $1.50 zebra mask, waved maniacally and told him to break a leg. Then, I whisked myself to the main building where I assumed his performance was.
Sure enough, parents were already seated inside, waiting for the performances to start. I found myself a seat. And waited.
If I had been more careful, I would have re-read the teacher’s whatsapp messages that said to go to the second floor of the building. If I had been more present, I would have noticed earlier that I barely recognised any of the parents, that the children behind the curtains were from the older classes. If I had my wits about me, I would have listened to my instinct and not wait till after 2 whole songs to ask around for the real toddler performance venue…
By the time I realised I was watching the wrong performance and made it upstairs to the correct venue…Julian’s turn was over and he was seated, watching the others have their go.
What made it utterly heartbreaking was when I reached out to say hi to him, and he immediately clamoured over to cling onto me. I pretended that I watched his performance and said he danced really well, but he looked at me woefully and clung onto me even harder. And that was when I saw tears behind the mask. Naturally, I started tearing too.
Good thing the teachers came to the rescue with doritos and pretzels. It was the only thing that turned the waterworks off and got Julian to un-koala himself from my neck. A half-hour later, my husband joined us with Layla, whom he brought for a vaccination, and everything felt like normal again.
“Don’t beat yourself over it,” my friends say. And they’re right. In the grand scheme of things, missing one concert isn’t going to undo a child. My three year old and I have plenty more performances to look forward to.
“You just have to be more present, Char.” reminds my husband, never one to mince his words. And he’s absolutely right too.
Slip-ups are a part of life. But we could all benefit with a little more mindfulness to help tune out the distractions and tone down the unnecessary clutter and noise. For me, personally, this means an all-or-nothing approach of full engagement. No more half-measures.
It means quitting my ridiculous pursuit of accomplishing evermore – more activities, more education, more parties, more family time, more friends time, more work – and striving instead, for more quality. More quality play time. More quality family time. And yes, more quality me time too.
A better mother than me might be able to work, cook, clean, teach letters, squeeze in a facial and attend her son’s school performance with no problems at all, but for now, I don’t need to be a better mother, I just need to be a more present one.