Dolly's blog: Epic Fails
I’m wondering if the biggest challenge of working parenting is feeling like everyone one else is better at it than you are. We could all do with cheering up right now, so I have assembled some of my all-time parenting fails in the hope it will make everyone else feel better. “I can help” said our eldest sardonically, one eyebrow raised (she gets that gift from me). I politely declined but here are some self-confessed parental shortcomings in chronological order*:
- Our eldest slept through the night at three weeks. Yes, we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Forget baby whispering, the controversial Gina Ford choice had been resoundingly vindicated. Until we realised that we’d forgotten to switch the baby monitor on.
- Welcoming friends for a pre-Christmas visit shortly after our third was born, I’d made everyone tea, heated mince pies in the oven, occupied the older two children with a wholesome activity, lit a fire and serenely sat on the sofa to breastfeed the baby, make adult conversation, sip my tea and scoff my mince pie. Nailed it I thought. Three children under five? No big deal. I felt like Nigella crossed with Mary Poppins and the Virgin Mary, my dog passing for a sheep. Until my baby started screaming. A kind of animalistic howl. Turned out I’d dropped a bit of molten hot mince pie onto his cheek whilst feeding him and myself. No scar but nil points.
- Still consumed by post-birth brain fog (constantly forgetting things, stopping mid-sentence and opening the fridge with no idea why I’d done so) I returned from the school run and realised I’d locked us out of the house. I swore. But wait… the tiny downstairs loo window was open! Way too small for me, but very do-able for a small child. I tried to convince my four year old to climb through and dangle her little legs down until she could stand on the loo. She looked at me carefully, trying to work out if I was being serious, but sadly was having none of it. Luckily my three year old was game. And he made it! Only snag was that he couldn’t then open the back door. I’d ended up both locked out and with a three year old locked in. “Mummy what was your plan there?” said my eldest when we reminisced.
- A few months later I was going back to work (probably no bad thing…) and we desperately needed childcare. Living in the middle of nowhere the pickings were slim, but we’d found someone worth a second interview. The reality of course is that they’re also interviewing you, so the house was tidy, the coffee was brewing and no one was wearing clothes that were covered in food. The more formal Q&A part of the interview done, it was time to head to the park to assess how she’d get on with the kids in action. Coats on, scooters located, dog on lead, we finally arrived at the park. “Where’s the baby?” said our middle child. Reader, we had left him at home.
- A favourite debate in our family is how many times we’ve taken the kids back to school on the wrong day. I’m prepared to admit to five. The kids say it’s more. I blame inset days.
- Then last but not least was the time Mr D was flattered to be asked to give the address at the school’s remembrance day service. The kids were obviously mortified. Nothing worse than one of your parents popping up in assembly. But the true mortification was yet to come. We’d assumed it was on Sunday (who wouldn’t?!) and I’d missed the increasingly panicked “Where are you?!” voicemails because I was smugly doing my 60 minute weekend Peloton ride. Still feel bad about that. I think they blamed the M25.
So my thought for the day is this: pride comes before a fall and parenting perfection is a delusion. Certainly in my house.
*Disclaimer: no children or animals were harmed in the production of this blog.
After 19 years of fee earning, Dolly now works in a management role in a London law firm. Working four days a week she is supported by a wonderful (though often absent) husband as they attempt to bring up three children aged 14, 13 and 10. She’s still mourning the charismatic dog who kept her sane and still can’t talk about that – but the lockdown puppy is helping.