One morning I was out doing a few last minute errands before going home to sort out a birthday party for that afternoon. Baby boy was still asleep so I popped into the golden arches for a drink before heading back. While there, and as I fed and sorted out my little man, who (Murphy’s Law) woke up the second I sat down, I chatted with two people close by. They asked me about my kids, what I did, what they did etc. We talked about this woman’s wee boy who was being a little bit of a handful but no more than any other boisterous three year old I’ve met. He was less interested is food and more interested in using the chair as a climbing frame. As you do.
They saw me as this amazing, organised, capable, competent mother who manages her many children with no difficulty. Seriously, they actually said that to me. They’d met me for all of 10 minutes, saw me interact with one of my children and saw me as all that.
I don’t see myself that way.
I am sure its because I see the whole truth. The Mummy who get cross at the kids for not doing what they were told for the third time. The Mummy who finds it hard to listen when there are four competing voices in my ear. The Mummy who looks at the washing pile and decides that its too hard for now and picks up the book instead. They don’t see tired Mummy, stressed Mummy, pulled too many ways at once Mummy.
But then, I think all those things mentioned above are the negatives. The bits that I regret at the end of another day when I got annoyed at something or grumped. The times when I’d much rather sleep than do any form of housework. The times I wish I had done that chore because overnight its become a massive effort.
So maybe I am too hard on myself.
There are times when me and the kids are laughing our heads off at something funny. When we cheer and celebrate our Littlest persons achievement. When they all eat their dinner AT THE SAME MEAL. When they do cute things with each other or wrap their arms around us and cuddle in. How they love me to shout “Let’s get ready to rumble” when it’s time to leave the house.
There are times when I am up for the 4th time in the night and I just patiently sit there waiting for baby to fall asleep again. When I let my kids choose their clothes without comment. When they surprise me by tidying their room or they get ready without endless nagging… and I am probably guilty of not acknowleging when they’ve done something great either. There are the every day moments when I listen to the stilted reading of a 5 year old and encourage her at every page turn. When my son earnestly tells me that he has to do this and that for his homework or he tells me a long, convoluted and confusing story about Star Wars (its all about the Force, really). When I gently remind my three year old to ask Mummy before she pours herself a cup of milk rather than grump and sigh.
I try to do all the right things. I’ve breastfed for so long it takes me five minutes to work out how long that actually is. I try to make sure that they have over 5 servings of vegetables and fruit in a day and that they eat a balanced diet over a week. I restrict treats to birthdays and grandparents. I give them water and milk rather than soft drink and juice. I encourage their independence and try very hard to empathise and acknowledge how they are feeling without being a total pushover when it comes to discipline
The reality is that when you have children, whether its one, two, four or eight, you just do it. You get up and you start your day and hopefully it’ll go okay. Those with less children often look upon those of us with more children with something akin to fearful respect. But really, we’re no different. How you feel about facing your child’s new phase is exactly how we feel when faced with the new phase of our oldest child. It never stops being new. But after a while you get used to dealing with other stuff. I don’t worry that my one year old likes taking the DVD’s out of the shelf because I know that in a years time, he would have stopped that and got onto something else. I don’t worry so much about it because I know that sometimes, its just a matter of the child growing up a wee bit more. Its hard work at the time, for example at the moment, not only is Mr One a genius at unpacking anything in his path, he’s pathologically afraid of the vacuum cleaner. You can imagine what my house looks like some days, but it changes.
It’s really about being real. I’d like to be a fabulous amazing, supermum but in reality I’m an ordinary, every day garden variety Mum who loves her kids and tries her best. Hopefully I’m good enough.