Are mothers always guilty?
Why does leaving the kids behind require so much effort, wonders Jennifer Crocker.
At my son Alex’s high school you get to write out the school’s Code of Conduct (number dependent on severity of sin or irritation level of teacher). I have a nasty suspicion that my children are busy working on a Code of Conduct for mothers who fly the coop without organising things better.

This is why I am sitting at Lanseria airport writing this feeling slightly guilty because my children are very cross with me. The crossness and level of disapproval they have expressed over the phone to me lies in the fact that Mommy had to go to Johannesburg for a meeting and didn’t organise lifts for them.

Why not miss school?

My solution was to gaily announce the day before the trip that they could have the day off school because there was no way that I could organise people to fetch three children and deliver and fetch them from school at 9.30pm the night before the departure.

Alex, 15, informed me that he had a test and that it was the kind of test that you ‘have to have a doctor’s certificate’ to miss. Informed him that I didn’t think I could pick up a medical qualification overnight and that all my doctor friends are far too ethical to lie for me.

Hannah, 12, also apparently had a test and a function in the evening that I had committed to going to, so dark glowering looks from her.

Grace, 11, just really doesn’t like missing school. What is wrong with these children?

So, that is why instead of sipping my cappuccino and enjoying the chance to spend a few hours catching up on email and doing work I am instead feeling guilty. I would be feeling even more guilty if I was reading my novel I’m sure because then I would be worrying about what my boss thought about me reading instead of working, but in my defence I did get up at 4am to catch my flight.

There are times when I wonder if all I have learned about parenting is that it requires enormous organisational skills and that you will be frequently left with a feeling of just not quite having risen to the challenge.

I suppose I could have woken up to the fact that planning was needed a week before the event, my excuse I was busy being organised at work (hope none of my colleagues are reading this). I was too busy remembering that in order to cook dinner you need food in the house unless you are prepared to sacrifice a small domestic pet which is largely frowned on I think.

I probably failed to pay attention because I spent quite a bit of the weekend reading a really good book (actually the one I could be reading now if guilt was not compelling me to confess my sins to you).

So, by way of apology I am going to compose a short code of conduct for good maternal behaviour: Do not make plans to leave town without securing lifts for children. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I hear a book calling from my briefcase.

Does leaving your kids make you feel guilty?

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