I’ve just received an email from the school PTA; an email seeking enthusiastic and talented volunteers for the forthcoming, tedious as hell, school Christmas fair. (‘Fair’ – a term widely misused. Wallpaper tables of other children’s Rice Krispie cakes, tombolas with other children’s unwanted cast-offs and the forced-down-your-throat shitty raffle, does not a fair make.)
As we’re new to the school, I thought it would be prudent to stick up my hand and offer myself up for….for what? What is it that I can bring to the festive table? Bake a tasty cake for the cake stall? Nope, Can’t bake. Make some bunting to decorate the dinner hall? Nope, can’t sew. Face-painting? I struggle with my own make-up, so no, I won’t be turning the kids into tigers or Spider-Man. Man the sweetie stall? Left in charge of a table full of sweets is not the way to maximise sales for the school. I will eat sweets placed in front of me. Plus, I can’t add up, take-away or multiply. What does this leave? What’s left for the mediocre mum who doesn’t really have anything to offer except her lukewarm enthusiasm?
This has really got me thinking. What is it I bring to the world? If I die tomorrow, what will I say to God when he asks, ‘So, what’s so great about you?’
I don’t cook. Don’t bake. Don’t sew. Don’t knit. Don’t draw. Don’t paint. Don’t play an instrument. Don’t sing. Don’t play sport. Don’t speak a foreign language (beyond ordering a croque-monsieur at Café Rouge). Don’t chalk paint my furniture. Don’t make my own pasta/bread/elderflower cordial. I don’t do much at all.
When I met my husband 20 years ago, he’d just come out of long-term relationship with an AMAZING girl called, let’s call her Martha. Martha did play the piano, the flute and sang in a choir. Martha aced her GCSEs, A’ Levels and her two degrees. She never lost her temper, never swore and certainly never left the bathroom door open when she did a shit. Her delightful parents were blissfully married and she had a fantastic relationship with her similarly accomplished older sister. Jesus, booooring!
Two weeks into our relationship, my then boyfriend wanted me to meet his parents. Within two minutes of sitting down, I was asked, ‘So, what do you do, then?’ (A question I loathe to this day, as I’ve always been a writer, and potential in-laws do not want to hear something so flakey); ‘Do you play any instruments, Annie?’ And, another favourite, ‘Do you play tennis/golf/squash, Annie?’ I remember vividly the disappointing look on my boyfriend’s face. And I didn’t blame him. I wasn’t the shiniest car in the showroom.
Now I’m a proper grown-up, and I’ve achieved some great showy-offy things. But I still frequently ask myself, ‘what do I offer the world?’ I have no distinguishable talent. There’s nothing I’m an expert at. I’m Mrs Mediocre. Mummy Mediocre.
And if you needed evidence of my average-ness, take a peek at tonight’s delicious dinner. They’re salmon footballs. Yes, that’s right. Salmon footballs. A supposedly fool-proof recipe from Annabel Karmel’s New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner (still my all time, number 1 cookbook, even though my children are 6 & 7!). Unfortunately, my footballs look like testicles:
So, how did I respond to the Christmas fair email? Email? What email? Probably in my spam folder, sorry….