The New Year is here, and it means that soon I’ll start preparing myself for our second year of primary school, a year that I know is going to be a challenging one for more reasons than one and packed full of mother’s guilt for good measure.
Master E’s first year of prep was a learning curve for all of us, but with a wonderful teacher and friends, there were many positives. However, the one thing that continues to stick in my mind is the number of times Master E shared his disappointment that I wasn’t able to help in the classroom or attend excursions.
Every time he brought it up, it was like someone ripped my heart out. The guilt was also ridiculously tough to deal with and I started to compare myself to other mums. Yet, as much as I tried to explain that these things school things fell on my work days, that wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
Other kid’s parents come to school, Mummy…
“But Billy’s Mum comes and helps in groups Mummy, why can’t you?” Master E asks.
“Oh how I wish I could do so E, but Mummy works so we can go on the nice holidays so that I can buy you clothes, so we can pay for the school you go to.”
But at five years old and when he sees some of his friend’s parents in the classroom, all he cares about is the fact that his mummy isn’t there.
I know that I’m not the only parent in this situation and that I share in the mother’s guilt you feel when you can’t make a school event or volunteering session. It’s horrible, isn’t it?
I have two options
Option 1 – I can stick to my guns, accept that I cannot attend the school event or volunteer because I have to work.
Option 2 – I can attend the school event/volunteer. This means I’ll either have to forego a couple of hours of work (and potentially not get paid) OR shuffle my time and catch up on the work later – the joys of being self-employed.
Neither of these options is great and the latter option, well that just throws a huge spanner in the works. Where do I find those extra few hours when I’m busy as it is?
Pressure easing solutions are part of the problem
Surveys carried out by Dr Judy Rose found that employed mothers collectively were amongst the most time-pressured groups in society. Personally, I don’t think they needed to do a survey to find that out!
Although, Dr Rose did make an interesting point. Dr Rose found that when women implement solutions to ease time pressures, solutions such as changing work hours, multitasking, being organised and calling on husbands as “helpers”, it completely distorts our perception of time and leads us to experience “time poverty”. She even suggested that some women experience time going into hyperdrive. You know all those times you thought you were organised yet a few hours had vanished right before your eyes? Time poverty and hyperdrive – we’re merely trying to fit too much in.
The simple answer
In conclusion, the answer to school attendance predicament is simply, saying no. Saying no and the mother’s guilt that goes along with it is going to be hard, but at the same time, not falling prisoner to time poverty and the domino effect that goes with it is probably the better hand. Sometimes, even with our kids, we just have to say no, for our sanity.
As for the mother’s guilt, well, I think I need to take a leaf out of my husband’s book. Have you ever noticed that father’s don’t experience the level of guilt us mothers do when they miss out on spending time with their kids? I wonder what their secret is.
How do you deal with attending school activities when you have to work?