We’ve all been there – or not, as the case may be, when you’ve got the date of the school nativity wrong and turn up a day late to see your Angel Gabriel.
This time of year can be hell for busy parents. Not only are there choir recitals, a class play, a year-group song, a festive whole-school performance and a nursery nativity to watch, but there are Christmas jumper days (bring a £1 donation or else), separate non-uniform days (bring a bottle of booze to donate to the PTA raffle, or else), winter fayres (help out on the tea stall, or else), fund-raising coffee mornings (homemade mince pies, or else) – and Christmas cards.
Oh, such sweet, glitter-glue coated hell. If your child is anything like my child, they’ll insist on making 30 homemade cards, every year, only to get bored after five, leaving Mummy to write the rest with her left hand. Christmas is hard work. Thank goodness it’s a time of year acceptable when it’s acceptable to drink Baileys for breakfast.
But it may help to know that when it comes to Christmas parenting fails, we are not alone. I repeat: WE ARE NOT ALONE.
A Reddit thread entitled ‘Shitty parent’ has gained a lot of sympathetic traction from parents all around the world for detailing the stomach-churning guilt one mother experienced after getting the date wrong for her daughter’s Christmas concert.
“So my daughter started preschool this year and had her first Christmas program last night and we missed it,” anon9172 wrote. “Not because anyone was sick or that we were super busy. Just purely because I got the date wrong and now I feel so shitty.
“She was so excited to sing her little songs with her class and now she won’t get to. I cried after I saw a friend post pictures on social media and realized we’d missed it. So ye bad mom award goes to me right now.”
But rather than condemnation, fellow parents were queuing up to share their horror stories of all the times they’ve accidentally let their children down.
Some recounted their dressing-up disasters, including the mother who sent her daughter to school dressed as a pirate – “complete with handmade felt shoe buckles that fastened on to her school shoes, an eyeliner moustache, beard and eyepatch”. The mother added: “She was the only one in fancy dress in the whole school! I hadn’t read the letter that told them to just bring in a book or prop from their fave book. It’s safe to say my daughter now hates pirates almost as much as she hates me!”
Another admitted: “My daughter is three and her Christmas show was last Friday and we missed it too! I completely forgot and by the time I remembered she was already in bed – she goes to bed at 6:30 and her Christmas program was at 7:30!
“It had been a crazy day and she was cranky so it slipped my mind completely. I just had mine do a show at home for me and my husband which seemed to make her happy...”
One dad even described how he’d messed up recording the moment his eight-year-old daughter made her first presentation – and was the only child doing it 100% from memory.
“I really messed up recently,” said saulmessedupman. “She came down and was so excited to see the recording and I realised I never hit the button to start.
“I’m terrified of speaking in front of large groups and here she is at eight! I apologised profusely and she cried a little. Then after a minute she looked at how sad I was and said, ‘it’s okay Daddy, people make mistakes.’”
He added: “The point of me sharing this is to remind you to admit your faults and when she makes mistakes remind her that even grown-ups do it. I think it’s an important lesson to teach and you have a real opportunity.”
We’ve all been there – I’m giving a sideways look at my own mother, now, who sent me to a Christmas ballet show aged five dressed as a Dalmatian when I was supposed to be in a classic pink-and-white tutu.
But don’t worry – even if you make the same mistake, your children will forgive you. Eventually (it’s okay, Mum. I’m over it).