Yesterday, my son did a guttural scream of rage, told me I wasn’t his best friend ANYMORE, and stormed out of the room.
The crime? After an extra 5 minutes of iPad time before his bath, that still wasn’t enough.
I reacted, as I always did, by taking a big breath, reminding myself that he’s two, sitting him on the naughty step and trying to teach him why what he did was wrong.
What I didn’t do was call him a nob-head. Not too his face. Or online.
But when did this outward dislike for our kids become a thing?
Before I get pulled up on my sense of humour, let’s be clear. I have days where I can’t wait until bedtime – last night was one of them. I remember the newborn days and the ‘go the fuck to sleep’ sentiments that run through every sleep-deprived mother’s mind. And sometimes, I am the embarrassed mum who is looking for a hole to hide in at the supermarket when my child decides enough is enough and kicks the till, launching his buggy backwards and upside down, leaving him screaming with his legs in the air, and me screaming silently in my head, while people looked on and questioned my parenting skills (true story). Plus, I happen to think I’m really funny. At least, I make myself laugh…
Parenting is hard. It’s emotional. It’s painful. It’s confusing. It’s frustrating. It’s really hard sometimes. And I’m told it doesn’t stop. Just ask your own parents and they will probably tell you that they don’t stop worrying about you even now, and yes, they happen to think you’re a nob-head sometimes too.
But imagine your mum calling your adult self out on Facebook, at a family meal, or to friends over a coffee, for a mistake you made. Imagine the hurt you feel because she’s making fun of you, and you thought she might be on your side. Whether you are right or wrong. You expect your mum to give you some choice words to your face, or advice that makes her sound like Yoda, but taller and less green. I just can’t imagine my mother doing something like that.
Bill, if you are reading this, you have challenged me something rotten sometimes. But, as of right now, you’ll only just be three in June and while you’re very clued-up on types of ape, you have a lot to learn about life yet. And even then, I’m sure we’ll clash in the future. Because people annoy me every day. And I annoy people every day. It’s the beauty of life. And the pure fact that sometimes people can’t accept that you are always right (joke).
As a mother who has to say goodbye to her son far more than she can accept, I can’t help but feel angry at this new trend in parenting (I can’t even believe I’m writing that). Yes, maybe I don’t know what it’s like because I don’t get to physically parent as much. And maybe I should focus on my own child instead of other people’s way of parenting, but… I just want to shout and say that you are so bloody lucky.
We are so bloody lucky.
There are parents who can’t hold their children. Parents who had to wait years to hold their children. Parents who want more time. And parents who are running out of time.
I also want to be honest about how I parent. I don’t want anyone thinking I have a life that is set-up for a camera, or a blog post. I don’t want fellow mums thinking I always have a full-face of makeup. Or that it’s easy for me. Because, well, if you’ve been a reader for any length of time, you’ll know that I don’t. And the last thing you need as a parent is someone else’s experiences making you second-guess your own. Yes, I can cook and I have a fairly tidy house, but I suck at being ‘fun mum’ (Mark is brilliant at that side of things) and I feel like I’m not present enough, because of work (it tears me to pieces). I want you to see both sides of my story, because I don’t ever want to lead another mother to feel like she’s doing it wrong.
And while it’s not easy to be grateful for a child who has just thrown a giant plastic animal at you (again, true story), a deep breath and the promise of a glass of something later, does help. That and the realisation that I’d rather have a grumpy toddler and tiger-shaped indent in my skull, than nothing at all.
And then the children.
When I tell my son that he’s done something that I’m not pleased with, his first reaction is for his bottom lip to slowly start to wobble and his blue eyes to fill with tears.
I can’t imagine if he had the intelligence to understand what I was saying to him if I thought he was a wanker because he had a paddy. Or how he’s a dick-head for making a mistake.
Can you imagine how your child would feel if you said those kinds of words to their faces?
My son is trying really hard to grow-up. He’s also trying really hard to adjust to a life with parents who are separated. He is going through a period at the moment where he cries when he has to leave me, and acts difficult for a day when he returns. I know that he’s looking to me for guidance, love, affection, and answers.
And I’m going to give them to him with the respect he deserves. Because while he makes mistakes, I do too. And not once has he shamed me for it.