This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, July 2012
An email invitation popped into my mail-box last week. One of the school mums was organising a girls night out and said it was best we do it soon, before some of the pent-up pressures of the motherhood caused us all to blow. Considering the wild antics that had occurred the last time the school mums got together on the town, it rang true.
Have you ever seen those programs about Youngsters Gone Wild on their gap year, or spring break, or schoolies week? These kids are out of control! Shrieking in the streets, dancing like maniacs and losing all sense of decorum and decency. Just quietly, those kids are rank amateurs compared to school mums on a night out.
Suburban school mums. The same women who make it to drop off every morning before nine; kids dressed, hair plaited, lunches packed, sunscreen on, hats tied, homework readers completed. Day after day after day. Sick? Depressed? Divorcing? There they are, regardless. Yes, sometimes the lunch is hasty, the hair is knotted and the reader languishes guiltily at the bottom of the school bag. But still, they turn up at the gate, hugging goodbye and waving their babies into class.
Twice a day, I gather at the school gates with these women (and sometimes men). We have babies on hips and in slings and strapped into strollers. Somebody is often pregnant. We discuss head lice and flu treatments and asthma medication. We pass hand-me-down clothes in a flowing loop through the community, toddlers wearing favourite pieces that have been loved by four bigger kids before them. We drop off food to sick mums, we comfort and jolly along sad mums, and we laugh together endlessly about the everyday dramas of life with young families.
In short, we are responsible, even the irresponsible ones amongst us. We are forced to be on top of fees and uniforms and vaccinations and sports calendars. It is never-ending, the amount of adult crap that you have to stay on top of when you become a school Mum, and every once in a while, you need a holiday from all that damn responsibility.
At the end of last term, there was a school celebration at the local RSL. It was discussed at the drop-off gates for a few weeks. Outfits were planned and complicated babysitting arrangements were set in place. A school dad’s band was playing covers, and the dance floor went off like a frog in a sock. One dad strutted like Mick Jagger to ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ while his wife mimed their bedroom negotiations. The school principal was dragged into a wild interpretive circle dance. She may have declined to break-dance in the middle, but she was the only one. One mum danced so hard she gave herself a disco knee injury that later required surgery. The highlight was the ten-week old baby, who was wheeled onto the dance-floor so his Mum could cut loose for a song or two. He slept peacefully on, a feather boa draped over his handles, as his future aunties and babysitters cavorted around him, inventing increasingly ridiculous dance moves, knocking back champagne and cackling like witches.
Next Monday morning, we were back at the gate. Late for swimming lessons, lamenting the latest head lice epidemic, and with a communal headache. But, critically, with just a little of that everyday pressure to be grown-up released. A new term looms, full of cheese sandwiches and library bags and sports notes. Schedules run by mature, organised women. But at the end of that term? Mums Gone Wild.