Yesterday I received a ‘collage’ from my daughter when I collected her from nursery. It was a piece of string stuck onto a piece of pink paper and she had trimmed the edges of the paper for a frayed effect. The whole thing was thick of dried glue and there wasn’t a pencil/crayon/paint mark anywhere to be seen. It was a little odd and not very attractive but I put on my very best smile and told her it was wonderful and that I’m a very lucky Mummy to receive such a beautiful ‘collage’.
So today I received another ‘collage’. Almost identical but instead of string she had affixed a bottle top (in fact I’m absolutely fucking sure it’s from a bottle of Jacobs Creek, a bit inappropriate for a teacher to provide wine bottle tops for the kids to play with perhaps??!!). Again, best smile and I thanked her for it. Now I am far from the type of Mum who thinks their child is a genius / soooooo advanced and I’m definitely not from the ‘everyones a winner at Sports Days’ brigade (bleugh) however I think a) she’s exploring her creativity and enjoying her little self and (more to the point) b) she’s not allowed to fanny about with glue, scissors or wine bottle tops in my house. So as far as I’m concerned – keep on bringing the monstrosities home my little love! Perhaps she’ll get bored of glue and scissors and actually start making me some pretty pictures or perhaps she’s going to be the next generation Tracey Emin and in a few years time she’ll be dragging home roadkill and nuclear waste for her ‘masterpieces’ and I’ll be wishing back the days of the glue/string/wine bottle tops/
I could always nip it in the bud & tell her they’re absolutely shite????
I am far from a perfect parent but there are certain elements of child rearing that are important to me. Manners. Consistency. Routine. Affection. To name just a few.
I kiss and cuddle both of my babies all day long and we say ‘I love you’ countless times. It’s not just reserved for bed time.
We are not inflexible (well maybe a teeny bit) but we do adhere to a routine. It works for us and is important to us all.
And I do all I can to teach my children to have manners. Not fun with a stroppy little
Then when it comes to behaviour I try to be consistent. This is what I have current beef with:
always my three year old misbehaves in public. I still wish to deal with her as I would at home. This means I’m not scared of getting down to her level and using my ‘firm’ voice (Thank you Supernanny). This is not a shout, but it is louder than my normal voice. But without it, I’m just talking to her normally? (And if I could reason with her ‘normally’ I wouldn’t be on my fucking knees in Sainsbury’s explaining why the hurling of a bag of donuts is unacceptable).
Whilst this may make some people uncomfortable I would hope that they realise I’m doing it to be consistent, not cruel.
Mothers of babies may stare because they wouldn’t dream of talking to their precious offspring in anything other than their nice voice (just wait a year or two love, you’ll see) and grandmothers actually see fit to stop and try to ‘lighten’ the mood by intervening which is just plain fucking rude!
It’s everyone’s choice how to discipline their three year old and I believe I wouldn’t be doing her justice if I were more lenient or used different techniques in public. I don’t judge you when you ignore your child who is behaving like a twat in the aisles so please don’t judge me. We’re OK. We love each other and we have a laugh. Most of the time.
And just for the record, she doesn’t listen, always runs away and screams at the top of her lungs and continues to hurl jammy donuts at every bastard opportunity. But at least I try.
(The Daily Game tasks are every day simple tasks, that have become nigh-on-impossible with the addition of two small monsters and the subtraction of one husband)
* footnote – this has been made a trillion times more difficult by the fact the initial house I was buying fell through, meaning temporarily nursery is a 20-40 min drive dependent on rush hour traffic rather than a three minute walk. It’s not permanent. Thank the fucking Lord.
TASK: The nursery school run
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
OBJECTIVE: to leave the house and make it to nursery school on time, all three of us being (moderately) clean, fed & dressed.
– why oh fucking why, after 3 years of very early rising have my children decided 6.45 – 7.15 is now wake up time when their previous 5.30-6am would actually be more useful. Awkward little shits.
– the threenager being uncooperative: ‘I’m NOT getting dwessed. I’m NOT wearing my nursewy uniform. I’m NOT eating ANYFING!!!! I DO NOT need a wee.’ 5 minutes into journey. ‘I NEED A WEE. Now.’
– the last minute baby shit. Shoes on. Coats on. Sniff sniff. Yep. He’s shit.
– rush hour traffic – FUCK ME.
– my sat nav telling me to ‘head west’. Oh ok. I’ll just consult my pocket compass you absolute bitch-twat.
– parking – the school gates. Reverse parking into a space that’s far too small with a three year old desperate to wee and a baby that just despises being restricted to his car seat twisting at the top of his lungs. I want Pinot noir. NOW.
– Teachers. It’s so much more formal than private nursery & I’m not used to it yet. I find it a bit weird. I used to really enjoy my chats at drop off / collection with the girls (& children) at private nursery but I suddenly feel judged. Judged for rushing in late, or because I haven’t got her a stupid book-bag yet and her jotter is a bit dog-eared already or judged because the baby has snot in his eyebrows.
– school gate Mums. *sigh*. Now that’s another story altogether…..
– Car snacks. That. Is. All.
– Strong coffee. Thank fuck for my Nespresso machine.
Room for improvement. Much room for improvement.
(I’m hopeful that the fact this has to be repeated every fucking day for the next 13 years it will become less traumatic.
Playgroups – I’ve never been a fan of them. I went to one recently and it made me think more about why it is I dislike them so much. How can hanging around with a group of Mums you don’t know and making small talk whilst your children play happily (hopefully) be so bad to me?
I guess my dislike of Playgroups is more angled to the fact I dislike Mum’s in ‘pack-mode’. You know when the competition element of motherhood rears its ugly head?
Everyone talks in their ‘nice voices’ to their children and parenting is polished and straight from the pages of ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’. I too turn into one of them. My usual Mum-persona ‘kids-are-bellends-but-I-love-them-really’ doesn’t work in this setting and I’m out of my comfort zone.
Everyone is a contestant in the ‘Mum Games’ and are so squeaky clean and perfect it makes me feel instantly self-conscious and like a fraud. But everyone is a fraud!
Let’s be honest. Your child, (DEFINITELY) my child, everyone’s child (at some point) is going to snatch from a smaller kid, wallop another kid, blow a raspberry at you when you ask them ever-so-nicely to tidy up or lie down on the floor in a great big ‘FUCK YOU MUM’ tantrum when you need to leave. It’s not a reflection on your parenting! Don’t pretend they’re the perfect child and you’re the perfect Mum because that’s not real. And don’t tell me you use your ‘nice voice’ at home when little Cornelius is flinging Lego at his brother so why at Playgroup?!
I’ve always struggled to make ‘new’ Mum friends for this very reason. It’s sad that the reason that playgroups exist is not only for the children but as a change of scenery for bored and lonely Mums. Except I feel totally judged in those situations. My baby doesn’t sleep, is ‘into everything’ (little f*cker) & my toddler is an utter Diva who I just cant control unless I bribe with either of the pigs in our lives – Percy or Peppa. I’d prefer to swap stories of sleepless nights, mega-tantrums in Sainsbury’s and poo-namis than I would listen to how Arabella has slept through since Day 1 & Charles behaves impeccably in all situations because of the way he’s been brought up ETC.
I’m not saying all kids are horrendous and of course we should celebrate them and their achievements and I am incredibly proud of my clever, funny, amazing children. But they aren’t perfect. And neither are yours. Even if your baby did sleep through from day 1 I bet he does giant poo’s in the bath or won’t give up his dummy. Or at some point I bet she cried for 12 hours straight and refuses to let you wash her hair. I’m not saying we all have to hate motherhood but Playgroups are an opportunity for us to join forces, listen and laugh while our children play, not to compete in the next level of the ‘Mum Games’, which in my humble opinion is really fucking boring.
Following on from my post last week about dealing with my inquisitive threenager questions, I got caught entirely off guard driving earlier.
It would appear that I am going to have to indulge in some further study of agriculture. My child will NOT bloody leave it. Today I have been asked:
– Mummy, where do leaves come from?
“Leaves come from the trees” (yes, I am 100% that is right)
– Mummy, where do raspberries come from (pronounced like a northerner, no extra ‘r’)?
“Raspberries come from a raspberry tree darling. No. Actually it’s a bush. Or a plant?” (Can I google whilst driving?)
– Mummy, where do raspberries come from (pronounced like a southerner, raRspberries)?
“RARSPberries are the same things as RASPberries. You’re just saying it different”(Still not certain on the tree/bush/plant quandary. Hopefully she’ll move on.)
– Mummy where do strawberries come from?
“Strawberry plant (ARGH! Is it?!?)”
– Mummy, where do bushes come from?
“(In my head) OH PLEASE STOP ASKING ME FUCKING AGRICULTURAL QUESTIONS FOR FUCKING FUCKS SAKE!!!!”
I absolutely, positively adore and love my children. And they absolutely, positively adore and love me back.
But, and this is a big But. I don’t adore and love being a Mum and I definitely don’t love and adore being a Single Mum.
It’s a huge taboo to talk about how utterly suffocating being a Mum can be. There are no self-help books to help mums cope with the loss of freedom and identity and even your closest friends are unlikely to ever admit if they do feel like this.
The older generation in Tesco will incessantly talk about how our little ones are ‘no trouble’ and ‘how lucky’ we are and ‘what a blessing’ children are and lately how as a Single Mum I’m ‘the winner’ but I’m sorry, that’s not reality. It’s not my sticky, screamy, relentlessly repetitive carousel of reality anyway.
Even before becoming a Single Mum I felt the same. Motherhood suffocates me and sometimes I cannot breathe for the heavy weight of the physical and emotional demands being placed.
I can barely remember what I worried about or cared about before children because it is so unimportant and although the selflessness of motherhood has changed me forever and for the better, I still feel totally lost and incompetent as a Mum and I really miss the girl I used to be.
Becoming a Single Mum intensified these feelings and some days I wake up and want the bed to swallow me up. The sheer tiredness on top of the thought of the endless list of (really fucking boring) tasks that lie ahead of me over the course of the next 13 hours is both over and underwhelming at exactly the same time. I often question how being a Mum can be so utterly challenging and exhausting whilst also being so bloody boring.
I know Motherhood will improve for me as my children get slightly older. In my head the thought of being a Mum to me was always helping with homework, cinema trips, lunch dates, park days, horse-riding, swimming lessons, Saturday night movie and family Sunday lunches. Although the thought of doing all of that alone, probably isn’t quite going to be as idealistic as I imagined.
The baby bit has definitely been more enjoyable second time round but as this coincided with becoming a Single Mum it has tainted it somewhat and although I wish I could bottle the scent of the baby’s head, I will genuinely be glad to say goodbye baby and hello crazy toddler very soon.
I know I sound ungrateful. But I’m just being honest. Don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile (or maybe a 13 hour double ‘day shift’ plus a baby all nighter shift, in my (boring & flat) shoes. It doesn’t make me a better or worse parent than anyone else for admitting how I feel – I’m doing all I can to muddle through and do my best (as are we all) and I don’t think I deserve a medal for doing what I do.
Actually, that’s not true. We ALL deserve a medal and a really massive gin (daily).