Most of the time, I'm a Mumbot - a mummy on autopilot. The business of parenting kids is so, well, busy, that I just get up and on with it. But in moments of pause, like this half-term, I suddenly look around. I look down. And I have a wibble. I realised that I'm stepping a fine line. I'm walking on a Mummy Tightrope.
The Mother of all Wibbles
Do you ever find yourself driving at 70mph (officer) on the motorway and suddenly becoming aware of what you are actually doing? You are propelling a tonne of metal along a busy road at great speed, with your kids in the back, and all that is separating you and the central reservation is your hands on the steering wheel and your sheer nerve.
I occasionally have much the same sensation when considering my position as chief pilot of our family. This half-term, we've been loving the absence of schedule, the prevalence of pyjamas, the comfort of each other's company. While I was lolling on the sofa this morning at 8am - panic stations hour on a schoolday - I suddenly thought, how am I going to switch back into getting all these bodies to their required institutions this time next week?
But why just have a weak wibble? I then went on to wonder how on earth I am going to steer my three children's educational progress till they graduate from Oxbridge (!), when I can barely get through one child's Year 1 homework? How am I going to raise them into fine, upstanding members of the community (and Winter Olympians no less!), when I'm so exhausted that the only thing my moral compass is pointing to is a large double bed? In fine, how am I going to keep at it for the next 18 to infinity years?
While I was there, I had a good old wibble about my performance to date as well. What were we doing watching Charlie and Lola when there were two reading books with seal unbroken in the book bag and we are halfway through half-term? One son refused to finish his breakfast before wriggling down from the table - why had better table manners not been instilled? And there was my baby, tinting his eyelashes with Weetabix: what hope did he have when he was on the same slippery slope as his brothers with me as a mother?
Don't Look Down
So there I was, wibbling about the past on one side and the future on the other. I was on a Mummy Tightrope. The proverbial advice given to a tightrope walker is, "Don't look down." But as I sat there on the sofa, lip wobbling, with a boy either side of me engrossed in (by now) Mike the Knight, and a baby happily emptying out a bag of nappy sacks by my feet, I had an epiphany. They weren't dwelling in the past or dreading the future: they were enjoying the present. And I realised that when I am next wobbling on the Mummy Tightrope, I should just remember this: "Do look down".
New Year, New Mummy?