No one ever interviewed me for the role of parent to check that I was a suitable candidate for the job. So for the last nine years I’ve been bumbling my way through – with occasional input from Gina Ford, the Baby Whisperer and Super Nanny – trying to cover up my mistakes and do the best that I can.
If a pre requisite for this role was organisational skills then I would say that for the most part I manage. However, unlike any other job where you make a mistake and apologise to the boss promising to try harder next time, my employers i.e. my children up until recently have been oblivious to my misgivings. In other words I’ve gotten away with it. But that is beginning to change as they get older and the guilt that I’ve experienced when I’ve let them down would be enough to make you quit, were this any other type of job.
My recent mistakes have been down to bad planning and both have involved my six year old daughter. The first was at her Taekwon-do grading when, having confidently completed her moves, she was called up to the instructor to be asked a series of practical and theoretical questions. My heart, which had moments before been swelling with pride was suddenly lodged in my stomach as I realised what was happening. Knowing that my daughter would not be able to answer the questions because I hadn’t helped her prepare for them made me feel like the worst mother in the world. Watching her walk back towards me with quivering lip confirmed it. She passed the grading regardless, as they were lenient for first timers, but that was hardly the point.
The second occasion was when I was clearing through the pile of papers that regularly accumulates in our kitchen, attempting to de-clutter, and I came across a sponsorship form that hadn’t been sent back to school. Both my daughters completed a sporting challenge with Peter Waterfield (Tom Daly’s diving partner) and both raised the minimum £30 required to receive a signed photograph. But only one set of sponsorship money was collected and sent in. My heart filled with dread again as I realised I had messed up and all I could think of was the look of disappointment on my daughter’s face when she didn’t get her photo but her sister did. Fortunately I was saved again by the kindness of the organisation who ran this sporting challenge, when I emailed them and they offered to send her photograph direct to our home.
So, in the same way as it’s always been in this job, I make mistakes and then I try to rectify them, whilst hopefully learning from them as well. I am still a trainee parent, even after all this time. But it seems that I am lucky to have very understanding employees, who seem to support me and love me no matter how badly I mess up. For that I am thankful and it gives me the motivation to continually try to improve. Hopefully one day I will be able to look back and say ‘actually, I didn’t do too badly’. What other job in the world could there be to match up to this one?