There are days when I feel like I am watching myself live. It’s like I’m on Goggle Box commenting and critiquing everything I do and say in real time. And, inevitably, condemning myself for everything. Why so judgmental? Because I thought I’d be better at this mummy gig. We all did, didn’t we? I don’t think I’ve met any parent who has said, “Well, this was easier than I expected.” Or, “Yep, I’m acing this parent thing!” Maybe some of you are feeling confident, but I think we all have days when we’re not so optimistic. With each child I felt a bit more unraveled, a bit less controlled in my parenting. Surely, I’m not alone?
What am I referring to? Things like getting frustrated when my children are fighting. I always imagined I’d kneel down on their level, calm them down, and help them work it out. Instead, I find myself standing there waving my finger, “Stop bossing him; stop pushing her.” Sometimes I get it right. I often start the day calm and cool; but when it’s 5pm and they’re at it again, that’s a different story.
Or there’s getting frustrated with the constant, “Mummy, mummy, mummy”. I remember all those years dreaming of the day I’d be called “mummy”; now there are days I wish it would stop. I mean, seriously, 50 times before 9am?!
Then there’s the constant talking. My daughter loves to talk—I mean, allthe time. I know where she gets it from, I’m also the type that needs to ‘talk things out of my head.’ But there are times when I can’t even count 5 seconds of silence. From the breakfast table, to the car ride, through the grocery store, even commentary watching television. I just need a few seconds where I can think my own thoughts. The number of times I hear myself saying, “Honey, I don’t know the answer to that, can you just give me 5 minutes?” Followed by, “Baby, I just need to have a moment to think, can we talk about that a bit later?” Finally, “Seriously, sweetie, I just need to have some quiet for a minute!” All the while feeling increasingly like my brain will explode if I don’t finish one of my own trains of thought. I know one day I’ll miss these moments when she simply wants to share her day with me more than anyone else. I was never going to react like this.
And the list goes on. I never thought I would:
Resort to screen time nearly as much as I do,
Let them eat processed food as much as I do,
Sit on the phone texting/googling/Facebooking in front of them as much as I do,
Let them walk out the door looking as grubby as they do
Above all, I never thought I would appear to be ‘that’ mother. You know, the one you would look at before you become a mum and think, “Wow, she does not look like she enjoys being a mother at all.” Honestly, that was me 10 years ago. Now, ironically, there are days when I’m that mum that I used to judge. To be sure, I wasn’t naïve. I knew parenting wouldn’t be easy, I just thought I’d be more or less perfect at it! Reality, of course, had a different plan.
So, what’s my reality? (The actual reality, not the fiction I fooled myself into believing.) Well, it’s this: I Love being a mother—full-stop. I love my kids and I wouldn’t have my life any other way. At the same time, it’s tough and I often feel exhausted by the demands of it. You may see me some days and assume I’m not embracing the blessing of it. Truth is, there are those days. But I’m also a work in progress, we all are. And as much as I’m growing to extend patience to my kids, I’m also growing to extend grace to myself.
Maybe that’s you as well. Maybe you’re feeling like you’re failing right now. Can I just say, “Yep, me too.” My advice to both of us: some days full of golden moments, other days are a matter of survival. Remember, the golden days help you through the other days. Most likely, it’s your own standards you are failing, not those of your kids. And even then, most things can be apologized for at the end of the day—even adult tantrums.