It started with the tie. Really, I was doing fine until I lost the tie.
"It's gone! It's GOOOOOORN!" I cried, rushing panic stricken around the house like a mother whose son was starting a new school the next day*.
"What's gone?" my husband asked, barely glancing up from the TV.
"His school tie!" I howled, in mounting distress. "I had it and now it's GOOOOOOOORN!!!"
"Oh right," replied my husband. "Can you pass me the controls?"
"But it's a DISASTER!" I yelled irrationally. "He can't turn up on the first day of school TIELESS! He could get in trouble! He could be stigmatised! He could be blacklisted!!!!"
"Well he certainly won't be black-tied," answered my husband**.
I ran wildly around for the next 45 minutes, searching frantically for the tie - in cupboards, drawers, laundry baskkets - even the pantry. My husband helped (using 'helped' in the sense of 'happily watched TV').
"Gee, I hope you find it," he said cheerily to me. "The little guy could be expelled if he doesn't wear his tie on the first day***."
I slumped to the floor, in my son's room, right next to his new school shoes.
And there, tucked away in the left shoe, was his tie. Where I'd left it for safekeeping. As you do.
I went to bed, giddy with relief (using 'relief' in the sense of 'Riesling'). My son was sorted out.
But then it hit me.
What would I wear the next day? It was my only chance to make a good first impression on the parents of my son's new classmates - not to mention his teachers. How on earth would I dress? Should I go casual, or make a bit of an effort? Should I show cleavage, or hide it all away****? Most importantly, would I let the headmaster glimpse my tattoos???
In the end, after hours of obsessive deliberation (including a session browsing my wardrobe at 4am while my son slept soundly and my husband no doubt rolled his eyes in his dreams), I settled on a plain black sundress. This was a sensible choice, a) because it disguised the tattoo on my shoulder, but not the one on my ankle, thus allowing me to be myself but not TOO much myself; b) it was a cool dress and it was a warm day; and c) it was my only clean option.
So I wore it as I dropped my son off, me shaking with nerves, him perfectly calm, and ready for the day.
And though I couldn't hold his hand, and make sure everything was alright, at least I could give him a perfectly tied tie, and a mother in the best possible dress.
*Which I was.
**Actually he didn't, but it would have been funny if he did.
***YES he actually said that. My husband has tremendous fun with my neuroses.
****Okay, so that was rhetorical. I don't really have any cleavage.