Something about school holidays (and being right)

Something about school holidays (and being right)

We are only halfway through the school holidays and I’d be lying if I told you that I’m having the time of my life. Over a cuppa, my friend and I discussed how ‘we’ working mums are funny creatures. We wait all term to have a break and then when we get holiday time, it doesn’t take us long to be tired of life-sized Lego displays and numerous trips to Bounce.  We long for school to start again and for that blessed routine to bring us the comfort that a large G&T cannot deliver.

Last night, I was fed up listening to my own voice.

“Please get in the shower.”

“Pick up these clothes”,

“Why are you walking around the house in the nude?”,

“But the water is ACTUALLY running!!”,

“Please! Get in the shower”. And then, repeat.

All the while, I’m in the kitchen frantically gathering anything remotely edible to enter into my own personal MasterChef moment!

Tonight there will be no screens and everyone will go to bed early and read one of the books they received for Christmas. That’s what good mums do. As I brush past the doorway to Willow’s (10) bedroom, I peek in to make sure she is reading.

She lifts her head and asks me to sit with her.

From a very early age, she and I have had a pact. If she needs to talk to me about anything of importance or if something is bothering her, she’ll begin by saying “Mum, you know how you said I can tell you anything?”

It’s simple, but it’s my cue.

I sat down on the bed next to her and tuned in my listening to what was coming.

She didn’t want to go to Robotics class in Term 1. She explained that in school last year, when she had finished her work early, she was permitted to build a robot with another kid in her class and so they were both given the title of “robotics expert”. I kinda puffed up in pride at the thought, but apparently this wasn’t a good thing. Being labelled as an expert had put some pressure on and she was concerned about not living up to the title.

As we chatted about some of her emotions and fears, she recalled something:

W: “Mum, there was a time in class ages ago when we were doing long division. I put my hand up and I told the teacher that I didn’t understand.”

Me: “What happened next?”

W: “She said to me: – What is there to NOT understand? I’ve explained it to you already! She seemed angry at me.”

Me: How did it make you feel?

W: “I felt embarrassed and scared.”

Me: “Why honey?”

W: (With tears in her eyes) “I just don’t want to disappoint people by not knowing the answer. If I go to Robotics and people think I’m an expert, what will I do if I don’t know the answer?  They’ll call me out on it, say I’m a liar and then they’ll never trust me again.”

Me: “Hmmmmm.”

Yep. That was my great response. Not my proudest parenting moment.

My first thought was: how on earth did this fear of lack (or not living up to other’s expectations) consume her at 10?  Where did she pick up this notion that she had to know everything to be someone?

My second thought was pretty ironic. I realised that I didn’t have an answer for her and I started to panic a little. What if I disappointed her by not knowing? She’ll think I’m a total mummy fraud?!? Then she won’t tell me anything ever again.

Whether, it’s Mum, CEO, pastor, teacher, husband, or friend, whatever title you try and live up to, we are all guilty of feeling like we need to pretend sometimes. When we operate from a fear of ‘lack’ in our ability to achieve or to live up to someone’s expectation of us, we find ourselves saying and doing things that don’t line up with our convictions of being true to ourselves. It’s a crappy, divided, inauthentic feeling. In addition to that, it’s a cross we don’t need to bear.

I began to speak before I knew what to say; “My precious girl, I totally understand. In fact, right now, I’m worried that I won’t have anything to say to you or that I won’t be the Mum that you want me to be. I don’t have a clear answer for you. I’m happy to inform you though, that I just don’t know. Do you love me anyway?”

She laughed and thought that was a silly question. Of course she loved me.

I told her that what God thought about her will never ever change – and that in times like these, that’s all that matters. I longed for her to know how much He loved her.

You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Psalm 139:14-5 (MSG)

There are so few people who actually KNOW you. It’s a tough gig to be known. After a few feeble attempts of explaining, what I managed to tell Willow was that God knew her heart and that He loved her without condition.

She is known by Him. Always will be.


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  1. 1

    What a great answer you gave her. Also how brave to own your story and not ‘fake it till you make it’ that fateful saying that resounds in my head now like a deep dark echo of the past!! This is your arena for imparting courage to be vulnerable for Willow and yourself. Love your heart sweet baby girl.

  2. 5
    Heather McCulloch

    What a beautiful story and so true – there is so much we just ‘don’t know’ and it’s about accepting that!! So well written – love it sista xx

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