Motherhood is a lonely gig. Day after day, dropping off, picking up, feeding, making chitter-chatter with the smallest of people, there’s no beating around the parental bush, it’s isolating. Mind you, my loathing of church hall baby groups, coffee shop meet ups and general “not great with real people” attitude (one might go as far to say anti-social, but that might sound like I’m on the brink of an ASBO – which I’m NOT!!), were nothing in the social spectrum of isolation I’ve experienced since being the mum of a “naughty boy”.
In a recent conversation with regards to moving Hugo’s school (not sure what I’m on about, maybe see here), the headteacher tentatively advised me that whilst Hugo’s behaviour seemed to be “on the up”, he’d made some solid friendships in the past few months, at this stage (year 5 in a primary school) the damage was done as far as reputation was concerned; the stigma has well and truly set-in in the minds of the parents. No shit Sherlock!! You think I don’t feel the glares at year 5 assembleys, the invisible force-field around me into which no other parent will step for fear that they too might become a shit parent not able to control their 10 year old, or, that I might lamp them one in a raging temper just like my offspring. We’re talking ‘monkey in space’ level isolation – it’s tangible, awkward and cutting.
I’m no longer considered “one of them”, I somehow got sidelined to the outer, periphery edges of acceptable parents – unable to make up for my son’s mishaps through some PTA gesture or even partaking in the parent’s relay-race last sports day – momentarily I became “one of them”, but only as they were an anchor short and my deceivingly slim physique and oddly athletic limbs gave a winning impression.
I guess it becomes awkward, and if I’m honest, I’m not sure who started avoiding eye contact first – was it me? Out of shame for the heinous crime or lash out my son had befallen to their cherub; or was it them? Knowing my son was the only one they hadn’t invited to the ‘big birthday party’ and hoping I’d be oblivious or nonplussed to the painful social rejection my son was now subjected to, as a result of his own poor, impulsive decisions on the playground.
It’s a collective isolation – not one of ‘them’ can induce this parental purgatory – like a pack of wolves shunning a fellow pack member due to a weakness, it takes the stronger, gobbier few to turn their backs and the rest follow suit for fear of being rejected themselves.
I could harp on all day about the deep, dark loneliness being THAT mother entails – but that’s not the point of my tale. My point is, it only takes one other mother to inflate that internal maternal flamingo lilo again. One other soul, who too has bore life, to text, email, message or say – “It’s pretty shit isn’t it? Fancy a coffee?”. Today I received that very message! Did it make me bawl my eyes out in a public place? Hell yeah! Did I send an incomprehensible blabbering message back? Sure thing! Knowing there’s a mum out there, who’s son is in thick of all that is Hugo, that knows all the really bad stuff and is still able to take a step back, realise both me and Hugo are not ogres, we’re trying to do our best, but sometimes things don’t go to plan – fucking rocks!
Please be THAT mum, the one that sees another with a tear in her eye, struggling in a sea of other parents- step up and put the kettle on; don’t be a dickhead mum, cos afterall, no one likes a dickhead mum – not even other dickhead mums!