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"It was 2:59pm Monday when I got the dreaded phone call. The one no parent wants to hear."

It was 2:59pm Monday afternoon when I received the dreaded phone call. The one no parent wants to hear.

“We forgot Kindy graduation.”

I was halfway through transcribing an interview at work.

“Forgot what?”

“Mary Poppins? Kindy graduation? Marly’s performance? It was this morning. We forgot,” said my husband down the line as he waited in the school yard.

There it was. I’m the official working mother cliche. Forgetting important childhood milestones. My eyes prickled with tears, my stomach heavy with dread.

Guilt, it was guilt I was feeling.

mental load Christmas
"There it was. I’m the official working mother cliche." Image: Supplied.

I stepped away from my desk and called another mum from school. A working mum, who had managed to get there. She immediately sent me all the photos she had taken, shadowy videos of the kids in homemade costumes.

Photos of the class gathered around their teacher. The tops of heads of many other parents and grandparents who had remembered huddling in the corners of images. Those heads stung. They’re better at this parent thing than me.

My friend placated me by sending me funny memes of hilarious mum fails. She’s a gem.

I searched for answers. How had I forgotten?

I had done everything right this year, applied for leave from work early and coordinated extra hours to make up the time. It was written there clearly in my work calendar. The computer reminder had failed me and just decided not to happen this morning.

It wasn’t in my iPhone calendar because it was in my email calendar.

My husband didn’t write it on his calendar. “I didn’t know when it was on!” he said.

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I got home, it wasn’t on the calendar on the fridge, nor was there a note. There were heaps of other notes, school excursions, Kris Kringle this Friday! “Come to my party,” screamed no less than four invites, but no note.

There was a note for the dress rehearsal, that was last Thursday. I remembered that one.

“It was a Monday, the worst day for events,’ said my brain from years of event management experience, trying to find excuses for my oversight.

I rewound the VHS cassette that is my memory back to Friday afternoon, there was a mishap with my son’s school bag, sunscreen was involved. It was messy. His reading folder with a carefully thought out reminder of the performance was cast aside in the chaos.

Then I fast forwarded to the following days. The weekend that was. Just over two weeks out from Christmas.

Where did I lose my mum mojo?

Was it in between the two intense gym sessions I had tried to squeeze in? Or the playdate, or the Christmas shopping, or the birthday parties we attended?

Did I drop my train of thought trying to spend a meaningful moment with my hubby? Or when I cooked a home-cooked breakfast to make up for the lack of meals I contributed during the week?

Or when I was calling the council because my neighbour is illegally building and I can no longer hang out my washing without a bra on?

Was in between responding to my friends group on WhatsApp? Or the work friend text train? Or the cousin message group on Instagram coordinating Christmas lunch?

No, it must have been when one of my children had an hour long meltdown, or when I tried to watch half a movie with my daughter because I feel as the oldest child she gets neglected.

If it wasn’t at that moment that it must have been when I was minding my nieces and nephew?

No, it definitely could have been lost via that last minute high school application form I filled out or in between writing a letter to the strata manager.

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I could see where I’d forgotten. It was in between all those little moments. A moment of stillness in the cacophony of chaos. A half an hour here, five minutes there. The minutiae of parenting. The joyful, the mundane and everything in between.

For me, there were too many small moments. Each moment on its own is completely manageable. With that many pushed together in a short space of time, something inevitably got pushed out. My memory practiced self care and deleted the wrong file. They all rolled over and one fell out.

That one was a big one. It was my youngest child’s last kindy moment. There are no more kids to follow, we’ve shut up shop.

mental load Christmas
My three children - Alessa, Xavier and Marlo. Image: Supplied.

He’ll never get to peer out of the darkness of the stage with his Kindy crew and spot the shape of dad’s shaved head and mum’s wavy hair. My husband and I won’t get to clap loudly and proudly for the kindy teachers who once again have made it through the year with a smile on their faces.

My son cared for five seconds, a quick trip to Kmart and a Matchbox Car in tow, all was forgotten.

My husband was not beating himself up. “Life happens," he said.

I am though. For me it’s like a bad dream. I need a Groundhog Day. Bill Murray can you hear me?

I’ve had to make do with an encore performance of Feed the Birds from my kitchen table. Sometimes as parents, that needs to be enough.

Katie Bartolillo spends her days working for a not-for-profit and makes a habit of remembering things. In 2019 she will try and use one calendar system and no back-up calendars.

Can you relate to struggling with the pre-Christmas rush for mums? Group therapy is open in the comments.

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