After six and a half years of being a Mum it would be easy to think that I would’ve got this whole parenting thing sorted out.
I haven’t. In fact, this year I have behaved pretty badly at times. If my kids behaved as badly as I have, I would send them to their rooms and never let them out. But the thing is, sometimes I wish someone would send me to my room and say I don’t have to come out. For a mum, that’s a luxury. For kids, putting them in their room with their toys and books and things that make loud obnoxious noises is the Worst. Thing. Ever.
Kids just don’t get it.
I did have a realisation this year though, an epiphany if you will.
I was sitting out in the back garden, as far from my kids as I could manage without leaving the property. My fists were clenched and my heart was racing. I wanted to smash something. Ten seconds earlier, that something was one of my children. They had pushed me and pushed me and pushed me so far, something in my brain was saying ‘just do something to make it stop’.
And I made a choice.
I walked out. I turned on my heel, unlocked the door, closed it behind me, and walked as far as I could from the screaming and the fighting and the yelling. I sat and I tried to calm down.
It would have been very easy to make a different choice in that split second.
I have realised that every second of every day parenting is a choice.
It starts even from before the baby is conceived and often we don’t even realise we are making a choice. Cloth or disposable. Swaddle or sleeping bag. Red wine or white (not for the kids, relax).
Sometimes that choice is taken away from us. Sometimes we can’t breastfeed. Sometimes our babies are sick. Sometimes we don’t have family to fall back on. Sometimes we don’t have the resources to follow through on something we really want for our children.
But in those other instances, often the small moments we don’t give much thought to, parenting is a choice.
I have made some pretty bad choices in the past. And sometimes I see the consequences of those bad decisions repeat on me like a cheap taco. When you look at your kids and realise that they are behaving just like you and you don’t like them very much it can be a very confronting experience.
I did two things this year to help me control my anger. Three things actually. The first was to go and see someone to help me with some of my issues. To be able to talk about my problems in a professional and non-judgemental environment was a step forward for me, but I admit it’s not for everyone.
Then someone put a meme up on Facebook that said ‘the way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice.’
I printed it out and stuck it on the fridge, so I see it every day.
Your inner voice is the one who either tells you that you are worthless and you shouldn’t bother trying, or that you should keep pushing ahead. It’s the one that says you are fabulous regardless of your size and shape, or it tells you you’re not good enough unless you are a size 10. It’s the one that keep asking ‘what’s wrong with you?’ or instead says ‘how can we do it differently next time?’
Although in the heat of the moment I sometimes slip up, I have made a choice that if I have any role in developing my girls’ inner voices, it will be to make them strong, thoughtful, independent, self-assured and – most importantly - to like themselves.
Psychologists and Facebook are great, but they will only get you so far. So this year, I also called in the big guns.
The Blonde Bombshell.
Although she is just like me – or because she is just like me – we often don’t see eye to eye. To be blunt, we fight a lot. Well, we used to. Earlier this year I introduced a safe word. When our fight is escalating and we are beginning to lose the plot, we agreed that someone would call out ‘undies’ at the top of their lungs, the idea being that it is so silly we would laugh instead of strangle each other.
She is awesome at yelling undies. (Put THAT on your CV).
And while she doesn’t need to use it so much anymore for disagreements between her and me (because I am working on the other two things) she has been known to step in between me and The Mop (who, one month shy of four has discovered her own debating skills) and call out ‘undies, you guys, undies!’.
The neighbours must think we’re all loons.
Maybe that’s why they moved out.
Thank you to everyone who stops by Relentless to read my stories, who comment on my Facebook posts, and send messages about my WeekendNotes articles. With every ‘like’ and every ‘hit’ it’s another way of saying ‘I get it. It’s like that at my house.’