I have a horrible confession of the kind that will send an icy shiver through the hearts of any mum who, like me, may be in a bit of spin as we enter the end of term run up to Christmas.
In fact, I can hardly bear to recall the exact details, so painful is the memory, but I will do so here as a public service and cautionary tale to those of you who have bitten off more than you can chew as the festive merriment (and meltdown) begins.
The date was up there on the calendar, had been for weeks, with a big red circle around it - Monty's first nativity play and his first starring role as Joseph. We had the costume ironed and ready to go, he'd been rehearsing his lines since November ('Congwatulations Mary - it's a boy!') and had carefully memorised the words of all the songs.
The performance was to be held in an achingly picturesque, but tiny, country church in the village (seating, a complete nightmare) and due to start at 8.45 am sharp. Parents in the know had, in years past, started queuing before sunrise to get the best pews.
I, being the mother of this year's star, intended to do just that. Except, due to some diary malfunction (read hormones and overwork) the date I was going to do it was the next day. The day after the nativity.
So we turn up to school on the morning in question and we're running really late. In fact it's about 9.15am and unbeknown to me the nativity is in full swing about a mile away. The school, of course, is locked, dark and empty. Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
Monty and I stand, together, on the deserted tarmac of the school car park and, as realisation dawns, we look at each other in shocked horror.
Then, in a very small voice he says: 'Mummy..... the nativity's not today is it?'
I have never wanted something more than in that moment of utter wretchedness. I so wanted to reassure him, tell him we hadn't got the date wrong, that what was staring us in the face wasn't, in fact, what it seemed at all. But instead I started to cry, tears of sheer frustration at my uselessness. Of all the balls I had to drop why couldn't it have been something like forgetting cakes for the Christmas fair or the teacher's end of term present?
We got back in the car knowing the nativity would now be finished and with no idea what to do next. I drove home, hardly bearing to look at Monty's pale-faced disappointment in the rear view mirror, But then he suddenly piped up: 'Let's just say the car broke down. It will be much less embarrassing.'
And so, shame on me, that's exactly what I did. I blamed it on the car (Well, it was his idea) and that way, I got off without anybody realising that I am, in fact, the worst mother in the world. My lovely son (who, don't worry, has recovered) also learnt what I think is an invaluable lesson in life. A little white lie – like a white Christmas – can sometimes make things so much better...
Catch up on previous Moments Like This - our weekly column on times of triumph and despair - here.
Why not check out the cutest Christmas costumes.
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