I Don’t Mean You’re Not A Good Mother, But…

I’m not sure if it was the background in Human Resources which led my mind down the familiar path of job descriptions. But I was there. At the traffic lights on the drive home from school I wondered about effective forms of communication when it comes to a nine year boy who likes a minimalistic yet complicated life. When I say minimalist I refer to his perpetual state of having one shoe, one sock, one piece of the three pages of homework, and one reminder notice from the library. “I’ve talked to you about this. It’s your responsibility to have your shoes and socks on by 7.15am.”

He is the master of charm. A dip of the chin and a grin while those blue eyes look up through his blonde overgrown fringe will get me every time. “Okay Mum, thanks Mum, thanks for finding my sock, love you Mum” he says with a kiss before skipping off to the car. And it’s then as I grab the keys that I notice his homework is still on table, next to his lunch box.

I pondered their job descriptions as members of our family: the packing of the dishwasher each night, table setting, making of beds, and the responsibility of teeth cleaning and hair washing that is barked up the stairs each night.

Had I ever stopped to ask what their expectation of me was? What was my job description in their minds?

The fourth traveller had some great ideas. “Your job should be to stock the fridge with lollies each week and to let us eat chocolate for breakfast and have days off school.”

The third traveller, who will make a fine Prime Minister one day (when he can find both his socks) told me my responsibility was to provide a healthy diet and a good education.

“Yes, but do you really want that? What would you really like from me. What am I not doing.”

“I think you should always be on time”.

I’d been late picking him up from school, the wound was still fresh.

“Fair enough, I promise not to be late tomorrow. Your dissatisfaction has been noted.” I winked.

The second little traveller has a cold, with her head on the table she requested I look after her when she was sick. “And I agree, you should keep lollies in the fridge” a smirk appeared.

The first little traveller was cautious. “You’re a really good mother, but, the perfect mother would be at everything. She’d come to everything and just be there for everything you did.” She quickly apologized. “I don’t mean you’re not a good mother – but that’s what a perfect mother would do.”

I was shocked, for two reasons; number one was because I thought I’d done a reasonably good job at being at as many events as I could. The second and more important reason though, was because I was beginning to feel like she’d outgrown me needing to be at everything. A particular track and field event came to mind, an event where I’d almost felt like the invisible woman as she wandered from the high jump to the long jump with her girlfriends. I’d received the occasional wave in my direction, and there was a brief exchange when she’d needed money for a drink – but apart from that, I was on my own. I think every mother of a tween/teen has been there. On the receiving end of the please just stay over there, there’s no need to come too close incase you make me look uncool look.

I’ve been told when I’ve cheered too loudly, or I’ve made a dumb joke. I’ve laughed at the wrong moment, and I’ve sat in the wrong spot. And then there was the day when I enthusiastically called Emily, Hannah, at the school gate. Oh my god, sooooo embarrassing!

What I hadn’t considered though, was that this was all okay – because I was there. It was all a part of the job description. I’m meant to be embarrassing. And although I may not need to be front and centre of the action anymore. That’s okay.

As long as she feels like I’m there.

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