So it may have come to your attention that I’m a ‘Mummy Blogger’. (Oooh errr sounds so formal declaring it like that!). Anyways, whatever, but basically I’m partial to a bit of oversharing, on a public platform, about life with my wee scally wags. And often, there’s a bit of a theme around my blogs, which runs along the lines of how freaking hard it can be being a parent. And to be fair, that’s what led me to venture into the land of the world wide web in the first place. As a SAHM (Stay at Home Mum) I felt I needed an outlet to share my days with two small beings under five, when sometimes I feel like I’m living in frickin’ Crazyville.
And as much as I used to think I was pretty invincible, I do find this parenting malarky hard. Mainly because I feel like I’m on an endless treadmill, which, woe betide I ever stop trying to keep up with, because honestly if I do, I fear I’ll be swallowed whole by it all. Rather like the fate that befell the Gamorrean guard in Star Wars after wrangling with the Rancor monster. Yikes. (Rather obscure Star Wars analogy there – hubby and son big fans, sorry).
Cherish those 18 summers! Damnit.
But as the days go by and my little ‘uns start getting that wee bit bigger, and, dare I say it, more independent, I realise that these days are, gulp, finite. Not gonna last forever. As much as I hate to admit it, there might be some truth in that ‘you only have 18 summers and all that’ cliché. So why the heck can’t I stop banging on about how difficult all this is, and just savour the good stuff? Enjoy the ride? Stop and smell the Coco Pops? God damnit.
Take a typical weekday morning. There I am, as usual, frantically galloping on my metaphorical treadmill, preparing for the devilish school run. Trying to fit in all the countless things that need doing to get my son to the school gates; whilst his action of priority is chasing his sister round the kitchen (who incidentally is having a total clothes’ strike and it’s minus bloody 2 degrees outside…) and playing hide and seek in his wardrobe or just generally pissing about. And I’m trying to be patient, and be creative about the ways I ‘encourage’ him to clean his teeth and get his arse into gear, but then something snaps. And lo, I’ve turned into Shouty McShout Face. Again.
Then after several ‘FFS’s’ under my breath I start calculating (in weeks and days, so I can actually mentally tick the days off) how bloody long it is til they’re off to uni and I can have a bit of peace in the morning. And, I wonder, if at that point they might have finally grown an ’empathy gene’, where they can actually see how ruddy difficult all this is, have a sense of what an awesome specimen of a supermummy I am. And finally APPRECIATE ALL I DO FOR THEM.
But, alas, therein lies the rub. In wishing the next 15 years away, I am missing the point and ultimate gift of what kids bring us – and maybe that’s a window into our own forgotten childhoods. Where we didn’t give a shizzle about anyone but ourselves and life was about fun, buggering about and not about punctuality and working to other people’s timetables.
Deep down, I know I’m not in it for my kids to appreciate the sacrifices I’ve made. I’m in it to have that cherished family of my own, have children be central to my life and part of that is being open to what my kids can teach me. Children find so much joy in the mundane and the simple – I mean where along the way did we lose the pure and unadulterated delight of jumping repeatedly into a big, muddy, pool of water? Or relishing in the total hilarity of a game of ‘pull my finger’? And boy, when I just stop worrying for a moment about what the heck to cook for tea, or mythering over some bit of school admin I haven’t done and watch their little faces shine….I feel simply breathless. Really at peace. An actual Mindful Mama, for once.
The other day my son broke his bed, after he and his sister repeatedly used it as a trampoline. I chided him (read: went ballistic) for not being able to ‘rein in his fun’ and ‘know when to stop’, and it occurred to me how utterly sensible and boring I’d become as a mother. Now, I’m not condoning letting the kids wilfully trash every piece of furniture in the house (and granted it’s a bit of a ball-ache we now need to buy him a new bed), but when did I become so rigid that a bit of bed bouncing was out of bounds? Isn’t that activity the very preserve of childhood!?
Perhaps it’s about employing a bit of spontaneity in life. Not scheduling the shit out of everything. Not trying to fill every minute of their lives with ‘developmental learning’. And just leaving the bloody washing up for a moment. To say to hell with the homework diary this week. To give ’em chicken nuggets, for the third time in a row. And allowing time for being daft, enjoying the ridiculous (I mean who doesn’t like indulging in a bit of Shazam Karaoke* once in a while?) and basically just being (as cringable and clichéd as this might sound)…’in the moment’.
Obviously as parents, the apparently ‘responsible’ ones, there will always be stuff we need to do. After all who’s going to stop the little buggers becoming completely feral if we don’t feed and bathe them now again? So maybe it’s also just about cutting ourselves a little slack. At times like this, I Never Forget the wise words of Gary Barlow (see what I did there?) ‘But Remember this. We’re not invincible, not invincible. No. We’re only people. Only people.’ Aahh Gary, I feel much more zen already.
And if us parent-folk would just put our foot on the break every once in a while, give ourselves permission to just chill the feck out, read a book, hit the gym, go Zumba, fool about on our guitar…go write a blog, even; then maybe we’d just have a bit more resilience to deal with the testing times kid-ville often throws at us, as well as teaching our kids the really important lesson that we also deserve to do something for ourselves once in a while. To employ a bit of self-care. To just be a bit ‘me, me, me’.
So even though we will always have our off days, maybe now and then we can just set aside that heavy burden of parenting, to snatch a moment of wonder, and remember how to be a child ourselves once more.
*Shazam Karaoke – a game of my own devising which consists of Shazaming any song currently playing on Magic FM (preferably something cheesy and from the 80’s) and singing along to the lyrics – full-on karaoke style, wooden spoon in hand – for the amusement of my kids. Usually, with a bit of air guitar thrown in for good measure.
Main Photo Credit:
Star Wars pic courtesy of: https://www.sideshowtoy.com/collectibles/product-archive/?sku=2000201
The Mum Conundrum