More often than not, I succeed in keeping my parental neuroses bubbling below the surface. Like, each time someone calls my (still bald) two year old daughter a boy I can totally fake a breezy ‘ho ho, it’s a girl, don’t worry, it happens all the time’ when really what I want to do is yell ‘she’s in a FUCKING TUTU you IDIOT’ before collapsing in a tearful heap on the street, begging freaked-out passers-by to reassure me that no, she won’t look like Phil Mitchell forever.
Sometimes though, usually after not enough sleep and one of those cans of gin and tonic that middle class suburban alcoholics buy instead of Special Brew, the paranoid side of my brain slaps down the bit that is responsible for reasoning and my anxieties lead to me doing something a little bit mental.
This very thing happened a couple of weeks ago on the A34. That day had kicked off with me mistaking cat sick for Weetabix on my daughter’s face (let’s be straight on this one, it was not Weetabix) and culminated in a Tickle Me Elmo being drop-kicked down the garden. There had been a lot of tears from all of us and now, here I was, in a darkened car, kids asleep in the back, thinking about how badly I was cocking up the whole mum thing. The answer? It was obvious really….I had to throw my children and their friends a Halloween party.
My logic was simple – counteract the bad memories with the good. Make enough cake and throw enough Monster Munch at my shortcomings and the kids would soon forgive me for a Tickle Me Elmo that now sounded like he had a stroke, yes? Easy, yes?
Not easy. Quite bleeding stressful actually.
Because I was already exhausted. Because we’d had guests staying the weekend and we’d kind of got on the vodka the night before. Because I’m already teetering on the edge of insanity just from having to endure Dora The Explorer. Each. And. Every. Day. And because really, this wasn’t a Halloween party, it was an ill-thought-out attempt at the whole supermum thing. The supermum thing that, actually, I’m a bit rubbish at. It wasn’t a party, it was an affirmation. Yes, I once gave my kids prawn crackers for breakfast but look everyone, I made 36 individually dipped pumpkin cake pops! And ok, maybe there was an occasion when I returned a copy of The Gruffalo to the library with a dirty piece of wafer-thin ham stuck to the back but don’t you see? I knocked up 72 miniature meringue ghosts and put them on top of cupcakes! Look! Look! FORTHELOVEOFGODLOOK, THEY TOOK ME EIGHT HOURS.
In terms of the children and their friends and my friends and my friends’ husbands and the people from next door who happened to bob round and ended up with a bun in one hand and a glass of mulled wine in the other, the do went well. And for a fleeting moment, it went well for me too. I momentarily relaxed, had a little adult conversation whilst the kids entertained themselves with refined sugar and even managed to take a couple of genuine happy noises over the family-friendly scene before me.
But then people left and the consequential carnage of a house full of 15 children jacked-up on a combo of giddy Halloween excitment and Maltesers sobered me right up. My house looked like it had been ram-raided by the Haribo bear, my kids were overtired and really, really whingy and I’d just found half a red velvet cake pushed down the back of the radiator. So I shouted. Not a lot. But I did shout. Enough to not only get the kids in the bath with hardly any fuss from them at all, but to also bring those familiar feelings of falling short of this whole supermum status thing when laying in bed later that night…although thinking about it, maybe that was just the inevitable slump of
the sugar crash kicking in…