parent opinion

'Why Mother's Day school breakfasts make me feel like a crap mum.'

A few weeks ago I received a notification on one of the school apps about the upcoming Mother's Day breakfast event. The colourful invitation announced cake, juice and musical entertainment – all to take place before school hours to ensure (I assume) that as many mums and carers as possible can attend.

When it was still in my distant future, I added it to the calendar and paid because I am partial to a bit of cake and supportive of such an inclusive initiative – in theory.

As the event gets nearer, however, my enthusiasm has waned and because I have such mixed feelings about it, I feel like a crap mother. And I am pretty sure that was not the intention of the organisers.

Please allow me to explain.

Mornings in our household are a logistical mess on normal days, let alone on a day with an event before school and work that is supposed to 'celebrate' us mums. 

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There's the usual fight to get in the shower and the lengthy breakfasts of cereal and toast for two hungry boys. I make the boys' lunches, pack or help them pack their bags (is it library day? Possibly), I find the right socks (that sort of match) and the dishwasher must be unloaded and reloaded. 


Someone (me) also has to feed the cat and shove a load of washing on to make sure we will have the right uniform for tomorrow. I will also probably yell, 'Please put your shoes on!' or 'Where is your water bottle?' at least once and then everyone gets out the door. There is not a lot of spare time to kick back and watch a show at a school event as a 'treat'. 

In order to get to the Mother's Day breakfast event (that doesn't actually include breakfast) on time, I will need to get everyone up an hour earlier and get the above hustle done faster than usual. I'll also need a coffee so that I am caffeinated and nice to people, and I'll run a brush through my hair so I don't look homeless. 

Do I appreciate the change to my schedule? No, not really. 

Will I do what I can to turn up with a smile? Yes.

Why? Because I don't want to be ungrateful or a miserable a**ehole – even if I am both. 

As it is a one-off and a special occasion, I also feel I should be able to manage this change in logistics. 

I have no illusions of being superwoman or always on top of everything, but I believe I should be able to take additional 'fun' things like this in my stride. That I don't – or can't just be that type of mum – makes me feel bad. It makes me wish I was one of those superior mums, those smiling 'nappy advert-mums'; less crap and more perky. 


I also feel bad for all the amazing teachers and volunteers (and let's be honest, it is mostly the mums) who put the effort into making these events happen. Thank you for all the preparation and work you do because it does not go unnoticed. 

Of course, I could stop my whingeing now and simply not go. 

I'm fairly certain my husband has never been to a Father's Day sausage sizzle and he would not feel remotely guilty.

But you cannot underestimate the power of mum guilt until faced with your precious child's pleading eyes as they ask, 'You are coming, aren't you Mum?!'

And the version of me that signed up way back when the event was in the distant future? She wants to go. 

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I want to see my child happy at school while sharing some cake and chatting with other mums. I want to support the school and I genuinely like a sing-a-long to a musical number. It's cute, right?

But I also know that 10 minutes into the event after a busy morning of chaos at home, I will be freezing cold, holding two juice boxes while my son runs off to trade Pokemon cards with his mates.

Yes, there will be moments of joy watching my son with his friends, but I'll also be trying hard to focus on 'the moment' and not think about the state of the house or that I am going to run late for work. 


And so all of this additional planning, guilt and then ingratitude, makes me feel like a crappy mother.

In theory, I am all for a social get-together, especially one that recognises the awesomeness of mothers. Mums do so much every day and it is nice to be recognised and thanked for it. And the mums that love coming along should do so with gusto.

So what exactly do I want? I know what I don't want and it's a two-hour church service on top of breakfast. I have heard from friends with kids at religious schools that been invited not only to a Mother's Day breakfast but also to a special Mother's Day mass that runs to 11.30am. On reflection, I am grateful I don't have to worry about that.

I don't think cancelling sweet breakfast events is the answer, but maybe instead, the school dads could step up and plan an event for the mums. Something with fewer juice boxes and more Met Gala-esque glamour would be nice. A mum can dream...

As for me, well, I either need to embrace the chaos and go along even if I am unbrushed or the house is a mess, or let go of the guilt and my vision of perfect motherhood and decline the invite.

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied / Canva.

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