When I felt a failure as a mum.

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I have 2 boys, aged 10 and 8 years so have been what I term a ‘school run mum’ for the past 6 years.

I have to be honest and say that nothing prepared me for the school gate when my oldest started school.

Now, when your children start, it’s all new.  I have two lovely boys who tell me nothing, or very little about their school day.  I often found myself asking another mum just to get a clue about what they had done during the day. However, in a child’s world it was often filled with so much stuff that they did the activity, accepted it and moved on, and were not keen on a post mortem when coming out of school. Over the years I have accepted that, and I have realised that if there is something important to them, they will tell me, not always the thing I need to know but, hey ho.

Now when my boys were growing up I did experience what I used to term ‘toddler olympics’, whose baby walked first, ate solids, crawled, said the alphabet backwards, that sort of thing.  The comparisons were astonishing and funny now I think back.

What I did not realise was that this Olympic style behaviour would carry on at the school gates.

Reading levels – who cares about what other children are doing, how well they are reading? Does that mean that your child is a failure if they are not progressing at the same rate, NO.

Project boards – if your child’s definition of success is writing 3 sentences, in their own words about their chosen subject rather than a huge ream from a child who is much more comfortable with writing, does that mean the child who wrote less is not ‘as good’ – NO

And finally, my big one;

If I choose not to tutor my child, who is 10 years old for a test which determines whether he goes to grammar school or not, does that make him a failure, or me a bad parent for not ‘giving him the best opportunity’ by getting him a tutor. – a big fat whopping NO!

I can sit here and write these but the above is what I have felt, experienced and battled with as a school run mum, and much more besides.  I have had to quell my anger when my oldest son has come home and said that he has been told by other children that he is going to fail a test because his parents have not paid to have him tutored to pass a test I don’t want him to pass anyway. Cue his dad who is awesome, much more level headed than me at times and is able to support our son to understand how important it is for him to just be himself, do his best and not worry what others are saying, because that is only a reflection on them, not him.

Because it is not that important.

But – for a moment, I feel like a failure.

Take this from me. None of the above matters, really. Where you get in life is a reflection of how happy you are a person, how fulfilled and positive. I know I am starting to sound like a Louise Hay book but you know what, it’s true.

But when you are stuck in the middle of a whole year of analysing the 11+, being asked why you won’t tutor and succumbing to the school gate analysis, it does make you question what you believe is right for your child, if ‘everyone else’ is doing it then I should be, right?


What does getting into grammar school mean to you, why is it so important. Why has it meant the sacrifice of free time for your children, and money being redirected towards this one day, is it really going to damage the rest of their lives if you don’t do this? Is it the best for your child?

Is this for them, or you?

I have witnessed parents wearing the ‘my child got into grammar school’ like a badge of honour, and also being downright disrespectful to those parents of children who didn’t pass.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a small minority but please, get over yourselves – it’s not you that got place at the school and it is not you that has got to uphold that place through sheer hard, academic work for the next 5 plus years.

I’m angry, can you tell? And I need to get over myself.

For if I was so comfortable with my decision then why do I feel the need to have a good old rant on this blog? Why? Because I am not totally trusting myself or my decision. I do 90% of the time, but, when I am surrounded by school gate analysis I get overwhelmed at times, have I done the right thing, will my son be okay.

Of course he will, what is the absolute worst that can happen?

He will still be my gorgeous, sensitive loving boy who is enthusiastic about everything and makes me proud every single day.

He will have learnt the importance of not being influenced or brought down by others comments and judgments, they have nothing to do with him.

And he will continue to make me proud as he moves up to secondary school with all the opportunities it brings, wherever he ends up going.

And, for those of you who ask, why don’t you just opt out? He wants to do this test, he wants to experience it like everybody else but he knows that we are not invested in his passing or not, just in what he needs to do to keep being the boy I love so much.

My message to you lovely mums. Do what YOU need to do for your children, what you feel is best and stand firm on that. Do not feel like you have to do something just because everyone else is doing it. You know your child better than anyone, and it is a sign of strength to stand firm and decide what is best in that given moment. This could be about any choices you have to make as a parent. Know you can wobble, know it will be tough at times if you are a school run mum like me, but the more confident and supported you feel about yourself and your choices will reflect onto the choices you make for your children.

Have an awesome week.

Clare x



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