parent opinion

'I'm tired of the other school mums complaining about their kids. But I wouldn't dare say it.'

Last night I went out for dinner with a group of school mums I hadn’t met before. I was looking forward to meeting the mums of my son’s new friends, but I was also filled with the same sense of dread that I always have meeting mums for the first time. 

As I drove to the dinner I could hear myself playing out the conversations we would have in my head, knowing before I even left that the discussion would at some point lead to:

“Home-schooling was the worst.”

“The day I could send my kids back to school was the best day of my life.”

“Eight weeks of school holidays, argh.”

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Sure enough, that’s exactly the script that played out - along with a healthy dose of:

“There isn’t enough wine to get through the school holidays.”

 “What camps can I sign up for to get them out of the house?"

Not wanting to have every mum at the table never want to talk to me again, I nodded along, agreeing that yes, home-schooling was a living nightmare and that school holidays are far too long. 

At the same time, I was trying to work out if any of the other mums were doing the same, or if everyone truly felt this way and I was the only outlier.

Before you hate on me, I’m no supermum. I don’t spend every minute of my life thinking of how wonderful my children are or indeed wanting to spend every waking moment with them. 

They spend more time arguing than agreeing, they drive me and each other nuts. I regularly chose to escape by walking the dog or going for a swim. Some days I want to pack them off for camp and welcome them home at the end of January.

And yet (shhh) I also like my children. I like spending time with them. I like that the school holidays are a chance to slow down, to catch up, to simply hang out. I like seeing them come and go with mates on bikes. I like that they will ring up their grandparents and ask to go and spend the night.

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I also (please don’t tell anyone) liked home schooling. No, of course I didn’t like the 50,000 different platforms required to download timetables we largely wouldn’t get through, upload work that no teacher would ever read or connect for online music lessons for which my daughter had done preciously zero practice. 

And yes, I was juggling a job I wasn’t sure would continue and negotiated daily with the hubby as to who got to hide in the office to work and who had to wrangle the kids. 

Yes, I was delighted when the schools re-opened and I could send them out the door so that someone far better qualified to educate my children could do so. 

But I also liked that they could learn at their own pace. I liked that my daughter, possibly the slowest person in the world, didn’t have to be rushed to finish her maths on time. I liked that my ADHD son could do his reading upside down on the yoga swing and let off steam on the trampoline between lessons. I liked that we could finish at lunchtime and finally had time to learn to ride bikes, something always on the to-do list that we’d been too busy for.

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I am too afraid to mutter these thoughts out loud to other mums because I am afraid that they will judge me for it. It feels easier to nod along rather than admit that I like my children.

I don’t believe for a second that I’m the only parent that feels this way. So it leaves me to question, why is the only acceptable narrative when mums talk to other mums about how hard it all is and how exhausting their children are? 

Why are the only conversations we have with each other about how to outsource our children’s education and entertainment to others? Why aren’t we (and by we I am really talking about myself) game enough to respond to complaints about the holidays with, ‘I can’t wait to spend some time with the kids'?

For now, well, I’m not quite that brave. I am not quite ready to re-write the script when it comes to talking to other parents. To push back and admit that it’s not all bad; for me it's mostly pretty good. Because the people that matter most know I like hanging out with them.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo.

Feature Image: Getty.