Mums: far from perfect and all the better for it. We celebrate some light-hearted mum fails that have absolutely certainly not left anyone scarred for life.
My mum was at a fancy dinner party and the topic turned to death, and whether it was better to know it was coming or not. She said: “I’d like to be taken from behind by something big.”
This year for World Book Day I decided to send my five year-old son to school as Max from Where the Wild Things Are. Now I’m no Mister Maker (I can’t even use a sewing machine) but for some reason it’s ingrained in me that kids’ costumes should be homemade and somehow this has rubbed off on him – he flatly refuses to wear a shop-bought costume, but put him in one of mummy’s creations and he’s pleased as punch.
So it was that we found ourselves strutting to school one day: he with his furry tail swaying in the wind and me with a bit of a smug, see-I-can-manage-this-working-mum-thing grin on my face.
No sooner were we through the school gates than one of the kids that my son is always trying to impress approached him.
“What are you dressed as?” he asked.
“Max, from Where the Wild Things Are,” my boy beamed (my heart swelling with pride). “My mum made it.”
“Cool,” came the reply.
Just then, I saw two mums I know looking over, smiling. I couldn’t work out what they were mouthing to me so I walked over, lifting the book up to show them what my son was supposed to be. However, as I got closer I could hear the words clearly: “It’s tomorrow. World Book Day is tomorrow.”
My son’s face dropped as he too realised he was the only child with a cardboard crown in a sea of blue uniforms (I thought everyone else had their costumes in their bags). I held his hand (and the tears back) as I admitted my failure to the teacher and another lovely mum came to the rescue with a tracksuit.
The next day my partner took our son to school dressed as Max for the second day in a row and thankfully he seemed to have forgotten the embarrassment of the day before. The day after that I had just about recovered from my humiliation enough to drop him at school when the teacher grinned at me and said, “Oh, I thought Arthur would come in his costume again…”
Too soon love, too soon.
When I was little I really wanted a Game Boy for Christmas. I went on about it every day but my mum said I wasn’t responsible enough to have one and do my school work as well.
On Christmas morning I woke up to find one in my Christmas pillowcase (fuck stockings). I went running to my parents’ bedroom… crying my eyes out. I handed it back to them, saying I wasn’t responsible enough for it.
Mum later said that she’d only said that to make me shut up about it. It took me quite a while to actually start playing it because of that. Oh Mum.
I sneaked my daughter out of school for an hour under the guise of an optician’s appointment. Fully briefed, she knew it was a secret trip to the theatre. The next day I was told all about the impromptu presentation she’d given to the class about the Top Secret Theatre Trip…
My mum thinks she fails so much more than she ever does. To me, she’s a ruddy angel, and she has no idea, even though I keep telling her and writing essays in every birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day card.
Anyway, not so much a fail as something I adore about her – she is so polite it hurts. She uses phrases like ‘wainscoting’, ‘Michaelmas’ and, “Oh Juliette, it’s so exciting because it’s nearly St Swithun’s Day!” Such old fashioned foundations from a woman with such progressive values. I adore her.
Some people seem to think their mothers try to rule their lives. My mum is not that kind of mum. My mum NEVER tells me what to do, even when requested. When I want her opinion on something she just keeps asking me what I want to do and we go back and forth in a tennis match of love, caring and politeness.
Recently I asked her whether she thought I should commit to my current partner; a big decision to make and I wanted her input being, y’know, my mum – the one who has unarguably known me the longest.
After the traditional love, caring and politeness tennis, she came out with, “Well, Juliette, you know if you’re not entirely sure there’s absolutely nothing wrong with courting for as long as you like.” Who uses words like ‘courting’?! My mum and Jane Austen – that’s it.
Last Christmas I took my children to their ‘acro’ (it’s like a gym class) dressed in the customary all-black, only to realise it was fancy dress day. The children didn’t mind one bit and took it in their stride. The following week the same dance school was having a Christmas day of dance. I reckoned that would also be fancy dress so spent ages dressing Gillie as a Christmas tree and Clem as Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. Everyone was in leotards.
This is a recent classic from my magnificent, but often inappropriate, ma, Ann.
ANN: How did it go when Matt came to visit?
MICK: It was ace to see him.
MICK: You know we split up 12 years ago, right?
ANN: But I always liked Matt.
MICK: You know we split up 12 years ago, right?
ANN: I just thought maybe you’d get drunk, have a one-night stand and you’d wind up pregnant!
MICK: Thanks Mum.
There was the time I complimented my three-year-old on his knees and he told EVERYONE he had “special knee-ds”.
Coming home late one evening, I staggered to the night bus stop. I soon heard a faint thump-thump-thump sound and looked up to see a man wanking at me. When I mentioned it on the phone to my parents the next morning, my dad was all paternal concern and urged me to report it. There was a pause. Then my mum chipped in: “Still… it’s quite flattering really if you think about it.” Yeah.
I was a bit of a late starter when it came to dating and didn’t have my first proper boyfriend until I was 20. After he met my mum for the first time, I overheard her on the phone to my auntie, saying, “I know, but he’s really nice and he does actually seem to like her just the way she is.” Cheers maw.
There is also the fact my maw is DYING for grandchildren, but tried to talk me out of getting a cat as she thought it was “too much responsibility”.
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