Mum’s are human – we make mistakes
I’ve been a bit of a bad mum the last week and it’s not easy to admit that. In a world where mother’s are constantly judged for either choosing work over their child or for being a ‘lazy’ stay at home mum or for feeding their child the ‘wrong’ food, it seems like it’s terribly easy for the outside world to point a finger at mum’s and we get a pretty tough deal. What’s not so easy is, as a mum ,to admit you messed up and dropped the balls in terms of your parenting skills. I am only human and humans make mistakes, however for some reason as a mum I feel like I am not allowed to make mistakes and that I must always be at the top of my game juggling multiple balls successfully and diverting all danger and chaos away from my house.
Sadly, last week that didn’t happen. Nearly five weeks ago now I decided to give up the career I had re-trained for and be a stay at home mum for Addison for at least the next year whilst she starts pre-school. It was a tough decision and not one that I came to easily as I have always wanted to work and enjoy work as it gives me an element of personal space. However, the needs of Addison come first and realistically there was no workable solution that didn’t mean turning her world upside down every day and involving three different childcare providers.
So I’ve been doing the stay at home mum thing. Some days with more success than others, and last week there was a really unsuccessful day. Addison woke up grumpy and I left her too it, made her a cup of tea, bought her a morning rich tea biscuit and was greeted with foot stomping, grumpy furrowed eyebrows and and “I don’t want it”. Not to be phased, I got showered and dressed. Then simple requests by me for Addison to also get showered and dressed were ignored, and ignored again. I carried on with my jobs and came back ten minutes later to a room full of upended toy boxes and chaotic mess. Unfortunately, this wasn’t as a result of her playing with toys, Addison in her temper had chosen to upend everything just to show me she didn’t want to do what I was asking her.
I used a firm voice and asked her to tidy all of the toys away, get undressed and come and get washed. Toys began to get launched at me. I began to raise my voice warning her that if I counted to five and she didn’t stop then she was going in time out. The counting begins, my voice gets louder. No effect what-so-ever. I began to wonder if I was actually speaking Chinese to her. On getting to five, I picked her up and put her in the bedroom and closed the stair gate and told her that she was staying in there until she tidied everything up and got undressed for her wash. My three and a half year old toddler then informs me that she doesn’t have to listen to me. Again, I turn my back trying not rise to the bait. She’s clearly pushing me and, honestly, I am getting to snapping point. This has now been going on for nearly an hour and I’ve got far better things to do than stand at her door being a marshal.
I gave her one last chance. I turned round and told her that if she didn’t tidy up now and get washed and dressed that we wouldn’t be going to craft club tomorrow or the park. She just looked at me as I stared back at her and made no attempt to move. In fact she turned her back on me and went back to flinging more toys out the boxes. That was the final straw. I was tired, fed up of the petulant behaviour over such a simple request, feeling like I was being held to ransom by a three and a half year and I just snapped. Somewhere inside of me it was like a switch was flicked. I yelled at the top of the my voice to do as she was told now. I yelled so hard that my throat hurt. Her face turned round to me and the bottom lip went out, her face wobbled and the senseless screaming turned into huge racking sobs.
Cries of ‘don’t shout at me mummy’ filled the room. She sobbed: ‘We’re friends, mummy; don’t be cross!’
Instantly, my heart melted. I too began to cry ashamed at myself for snapping at her. Embarrassed that I, a 34 year old ‘adult’, had lost patience with my daughter who I seemed to have forgotten is only three and a half after all. I had made a huge mistake. I had let my emotions and my bad mood come out in the way I chose to parent and discipline Addison and this was something I had tried so hard not to do. In all honesty, I admit I am finding this stay at home mum thing a challenge. The weather has been horrendous and we’ve not got out as much as I would like. That’s led to both of us feeling cooped up and penned in. This doesn’t excuse my behaviour, ultimately I failed as a parent, that morning, to remember that my daughter is a child and has needs and feelings too.
As the bigger party and the more ‘grown up’ of the two of us, I must be the one to admit that I made a mistake and take note of how to manage my anger better in situations like this because, let’s face it, being a parent is about trying something, messing it up and then doing it another way till we get it right again.