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Mama mia!

Claudia Savage-Gore angsts about being interviewed on a chi-chi website

Hot House

This article is taken from the February 2023 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

Why did I agree to this? It was meant to be a harmless ego boost but instead has induced three days of angst, and three nights of insomnia. Which, by the way, is NOT the peri or even actual menopause, despite what various deeply annoying friends keep hinting. It’s this sodding interview.

To backtrack, my friend Pandora’s sister Astrid has a website called The Mama Medley, which is part purveyor of Scandinavian nursery furniture and Parisian kids’ clothes, and part temple to Pandora’s sister. Admittedly, Astrid is an ex-model with four kids who manages to make every barefoot kale cookie she produces look amazing (enabled by her funder husband’s salary and a tonne of staff). But still. All a bit icky.

I then wasted hours agonising over the mind-blowingly banal questions she’d emailed over

Anyway, Astrid magnanimously interviews a fellow “Mama” every month about how they too manage to “find a balance”, and I foolishly accepted her suggestion that I be next — ick not withstanding. I then wasted hours agonising over the mind-blowingly banal questions she’d emailed over. Stuff like “what’s your biggest mama hack?” Answer — the nanny, though obviously I said something about taking time for myself via “long baths” and making time to exercise.

But the whole thing basically triggered a massive existential “Who the fuck am I?” crisis, and — more urgently — embarrassingly adolescent panic about how this wildly inconsequential item will be received. In the public domain, I mean. As in, will anyone see it, and if so will they hate me? Or will they (please, please, please) want to be me, or both or, worse, neither? That would be worst of all.

Tried to explain some of this to Will, who helpfully agreed that the photos “didn’t really look like me”. Which was a further downer, as the photos (heavily filtered and showing me lounging against our new Designers Guild headboard, wearing Liberty PJs and pretending to eat breakfast while my kids romped in the background) were the only thing I actually liked.

Were they worried he would trip over the hem? Strangle himself with a hair band?

In other mama news, a mother of a boy in Hector’s class has asked if he can wear the girls’ uniform (green gingham dress) instead of the boys’ uniform (green jumper, grey shorts). And despite the school talking up its emphasis on “the child as an individual” at any opportunity, and all the boys sporting flowing hair, this was met with a resounding “No”. Worse, the school then randomly said it was a “health and safety” issue. History doesn’t relate how. Were they worried he would trip over the hem? Strangle himself with a hair band?

So the mother then questioned the head’s talk of “inclusivity” (which she must be pretty dumb to have taken seriously, given that a private school is by definition exclusive, but hey) and raised the issue at the PTA meeting.

Cue mutiny in the parent ranks, as approximately half the school’s parents (i.e. the woke ones with trust funds and time on their hands) rose up to defend River’s right to wear a dress. We had to sign a petition and everything, insisting that all children should be allowed to interpret the uniform as they see fit.  Meanwhile, half the parents pointedly said nothing.

The odd part is that the headmistress is to all intents and purposes male herself, despite dressing in horrendous floral shift dresses. I suggested to Will that she was in denial about her own gender fluidity, but naturally he had zero idea what I meant. Then he said something about being relieved that Hector wasn’t “into dresses”. FFS. Why have I married his dad? Whhhyyy?

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