The first time I pushed my new born baby son to town in his pristine pram I was literally bursting with pride. Look what my husband and I have conceived I seemed to shout to the world as I walked along. Look what I, yes me, has produced. Aren’t I clever. Aren’t I amazingly, stupefyingly clever. I’m so proud, so proud I could just explode with happiness!
And standing in line waiting to pay at Wilkinson’s I gazed down lovingly at my perfect tiny little one, all decked out in his matching hat, gloves and blanket, sleeping beautifully.
‘Lovely at this age aren’t they?’ a voice behind me said. ‘Pity they don’t bloody stay that way. Just wait a couple of years and you will be tearing your hair out’. Then she sardonically smiled.
In my blissful new mother state, I too smiled. But a smile of pity. No, I wanted to explain, no not this peerless baby. I am going to raise the indefectible child. I have it all planned. I’ve read the books. My child will be different. How hard can it be?
How hard can it be? Well……the hardest thing you have ever done. Parenting is relentless. For most of us there is no respite, no escape, no 5 o’clock knock off. Is it little wonder that at times, most of us have given in or yelled or pleaded or bribed or threatened or said yes just for a little peace.
For instance –
I will never raise my voice to my child. Instead I will guide my child to correct and moral behaviour, gently and calmly. Thus showing my child, by example, that shouting and yelling are not acceptable behaviours.
- Reality – Oh the relief of tension and frustration that is felt when you give in and yell at the top of your voice, inches from your 3 year old son’s face, that if he does that one more time, yes, just one more time – you will put all his lego in the bin. Is he happy now? You add. Happy that he has made Mummy mad? Well phew, Mummy feels better. Now go to your room and play till I tell you to come down for dinner.
I will never hit my children.
- Reality – Ok I have actually stuck to this one. And that is NO BLOODY MEAN FEAT. My eldest is five years old. But sometimes I am so mad at my son that I have to go into my bedroom, bury my head in the duvet and scream at the top of my voice. And the mutterings from my husband from time to time regarding the need for a good smack on the bottom – I just ignore.
Other parents will secretly admire my children’s impeccable table manners and wish they had such wonderful parenting skills.
- Reality – Ok, Ok, you can eat your dinner sitting on the floor – just finish it for gods sake!
I will not use manipulative or negative tactics to control my children.
- Reality – If you go to sleep and stay in your bed all of the night – we can have McDonalds for dinner tomorrow night. (And that blows my other dictum out the water – My children will not eat junk food.)
My son will not have chocolate until he is five years old.
- Reality – I held out till he was two and a half. Then I caved. Yes you can have that chocolate before dinner, but you have to eat your broccoli. Ok, yes you can have another – just have a mouthful of peas first.
The incidents I describe above are true, and they are funny and I do shake my head with a wry smile at the enormous gap between my expectations of parenthood before the fact and the reality after the fact. And there are many posts on Mummy blogs and stories in slummy mummy books describing just such moments when we as parents have failed to be consistent or fair or grown up with our children. And it’s ok they say, because nobody is perfect, everybody is hiding such behaviour so don’t feel guilty. GUILTY. No need to feel it.
But I did. And I knew that I wanted to some how do this parenting thing better.
I started with me. Doing ‘me’ better. Because – who knew – kids learn by example.
And the irony is, is not any easier. But it is better. Better for me and better for my children.
Next week I will talk more about the doing it better.
Don’t forget to enjoy your day.
© 2012 Simone L Woods