If there is one thing I find hard as a teacher, it is parenting being blamed for just about anything.
I guess in many ways that is my own insecurity and my deepest fear. My children in their own way both struggle, mostly with anxiety but also at times with behaviour. I worry that others will mistake their difficulties for bad parenting, but even more than that I worry that they are right.
The truth is parenting doesn’t come with a hand book.
As a teacher I trained, I have ongoing training, I have peers and mentors who come in to observe my lessons and I get a chance to observe theirs. I get feedback, advice for improvement. I feel like I am consistently given the best support possible to be the best teacher I can be.
I often wish parenting was more similar. Just like I am given a set time I need to do my maths and English lessons, an allocated time for lunch and play at school it would be lovely sometimes to have someone carve out my day at home.
A way not to feel guilty about whatever it is that I am not doing at that particular moment.
As a parent of two children with SEND it is perhaps even more confusing than for those whose children’s needs are more mainstream. We stand and chat in the playground of course, but the worries and concerns my friends have are often different too mine. I – like many other parents in my position – am lacking the casual rule book – the informal one shared by peers in similar situations.
I am very definitely winging it.
And because I am winging it, I am all too aware that there are days I don’t get it right.
There are days I am grumpy when I should have responded with a hug, and others when I should respond more strictly and give a sanction but that I know enforcing that sanction will cause chaos we don’t need. There are days I work too hard instead of sitting on the floor and playing. And days when I sit just enjoying being with my children whilst the chaos builds up around me.
I am all too aware that I don’t always get it right. That I am not always the mother I want to be for my children. The mother they deserve.
I’m not sure what that mother would look like – probably a cross between Mary Poppins and a younger version of Mary Berry. But I know that she would be perfect. She would have a spotless house, cook beautiful home cooked meals, never be too tired to play… and of course not to forget she would be a master at making the health and education systems move at a pace commensurate with need.
She would in short be super woman.
I have ideals and expectations of myself that no mere mortal could actually live up to.Top that with a teaching career and a marking pile, and you can probably imagine the reality.
But also added to that reality is the fact that I love my children more than life itself.
I would move mountains to be the best mum I can be, and will never stop trying to be better.
My children may look back and realise I was winging it, I’m sure they will look back and remember some of my more catastrophic culinary creations and I’m equally confident that when they are adults they’ll remember things I got wrong.
But despite my insecurities, and wishes that I could do better, I know they will remember that they were loved.
More than life itself. They will remember they were fought for and wanted, and that my favourite place to be was always right by their side.
Because that is our reality.
There is no rule book. Only love to guide the way.