I was crying as I raced to school on Friday afternoon.
I had received a text message from the school office the day before, inviting me to come and see Tom receive an award in assembly.
I was angry. Not with the school for giving me the opportunity to share Tom’s proud moment, but with myself for not being able to just drop everything and go.
This is rubbish I thought, looking at the clock on the church and seeing that I was over half an hour late I’m not going to be there for him.
I never felt any guilt about being a working parent when Tom was small. His nursery was open until six and I had three days a week to work and the rest to spend with him.
Suddenly, when your child starts school, you’re expected to have a load more time on your hands. Last week, I missed Harvest Festival because I couldn’t afford an hour out of my working day and the week before that, I missed a parents’ meeting with Tom’s new teacher because it was in the afternoon. In summer, Sports Day clashed with an important meeting but luckily my Mum was off work and able to go and cheer Tom on.
The wind was blowing against me as I hobbled across the road, wishing I had gone upstairs and found my flat shoes instead of throwing on the high heeled boots that were strewn in the hallway.
I know this must be why some parents stay at home. I don’t want to get into a working mum versus stay at home mum debate here, it’s all about what works best for you. I need to make money as I’m the only breadwinner and I love my job. If it wasn’t for work, I think I would get bored on the other two hundred and odd days a year that Tom is at school but not winning awards, singing or running races.
I thought about turning back. Surely not going to the assembly at all would be better than walking in having missed the crucial moment?
It had been a busy day in work. I work from home but I can’t just get up from my desk when I feel like it. Surely I am not the only one who struggles to get to these things. I certainly couldn’t have taken time off at less than twenty four hours notice if I was working in a shop or an office or a school or a hospital.
This is why people stay at home I thought, pressing the buzzer on the school door.
“I think I’ve missed it,” I said to the receptionist.
“You might not have done…”
I walked into the hall as quietly as I could, but parents and children still turned and stared. I slipped into a chair on the back row as the headteacher started reading out house points and the older kids said “Yesssss!” when they heard their scores (remember that?)
After that, it was awards time. I had made it. Tom was presented with a Headteacher’s Award for “being the kind of child about whom people only ever have positive things to say.”
He stood at the front, smiling, certificate in hand. And I cried. Again.
At home time, Tom came bounding out of his classroom, award in hand.
“Mum! I won a tushstificate!”
“How do you know?”
“I was there, watching in the assembly.”
“Oh, were yer? I didn’t even notice.”