There are some challenges all households face irrespective of sexuality or family dynamics…One of those that considerably raises the stress levels in our house is Book Week.
Last week as most of you would be aware, was Book Week for 2018. Now let me preface this by saying I am a HUGE supporter of encouraging the reading of books. As a teacher, I cannot overstate the importance of fostering a love of literature from an early age, both for children developmentally as well as simply for enjoyment.
Book Week, however, causes the same drama in my house every year: I am hopeless at dress ups. As a full time working mum of five, I struggle at the best of times to ‘keep all the balls in the air’. Making sure each child has homework completed, dinner eaten, teeth cleaned, body showered, books read, sports trainings attended, housework done, uniforms ironed, washing done, cuddles given…Night times are completely and utterly chaotic. Fun and happy, but frantic.
So when it comes time to roll out an impressive and uniquely constructed costume for Book Week – nine times out of ten, I inevitably fall short.
I cannot compete with the artistic ‘Stay at home Mums’ who epitomise flair and creativity – designing, sourcing and even sewing for weeks beforehand. Seriously, I just don’t have the time. And if I did have the time, I’m pretty sure there would be a hundred other ways I would choose to spend it than this. It’s just not my bag.
Thinking I was on top of it this year, after combing through the Kmart FaceBook page for ideas and watching the efforts of umpteen others on social media, I had prepared several options for Master M to choose from. We were sorted. I was quietly patting myself on the back for my organisational prowess this year. I needn’t have. At approximately 6pm on the night before the Book Week Parade, seven year old Master M confided to me that he really didn’t like any of my ideas and that he wasn’t excited at all about it. I felt like a Warner Brothers cartoon with steam screaming out my ears. But I held it together and listened calmly.
Ordinarily I would adopt a bit of the ‘tough luck’ mentality, but my Master M is struggling at school right now – learning isn’t as easy for him and he finds school hard. My omnipresent friend ‘Mother Guilt’ took hold and I started to stress. Here I had the opportunity to genuinely foster an interest in books with him, and I felt like I should be embracing it fully. How could I do that if he didn’t feel excited about his costume?
Trips to two different shopping centres with the lovely Lisa to try and find him something inexpensive yet impressive proved fruitless. Department stores literally must rub their hands together as they jack up the prices, knowing full well the plight of the old ‘working mum’ and her sidekick ‘Mother Guilt’. Even stay at home Mums must find it a challenge – those I know certainly don’t have oodles of time on their hands to sit around thinking up amazing costume ideas that will blow the socks off their kids. It’s a pressure cooker at times, this parenting gig – and I felt at boiling point.
There were school lunches to be made and babies to be put to bed, before we could even think about collapsing into the arm chairs for a bit of a break before we ourselves retired. Eventually after much discussion, I convinced Master M that it wasn’t in fact uncool to wear a ‘Storm Trooper’ costume and dug out a Star Wars book that he had buried at the bottom of his bookshelf. Alas my book was certainly not going to appear on the ‘Children’s book of the Year’ shortlist, but he left for school in the morning with a smile on his face. Mission accomplished and crisis averted.
Until next year when Book Week 2019 rolls around.
Or the Easter Hat Parade, the other nightmarish event on our school calendar.
Don’t even get me started on that one…