Things to do: Heat leftovers, pester, kick washing machine, serve leftovers, lecture kids about gratitude and starving children, bath kids, shout at kids, take deep breaths, find peas in teapot, shout again, cry, group hug, re-light fire, bribe kids to bed, threaten kids with tech ban, watch trash TV and surf web, buy bodycon dress online, kick self, do 50 squats, resolve to be happy-fun-cool mum, go to sleep.
But in the morning someone’s wee’d all over the loo seat, there’s no milk and all resolve is dissolved. Happy-fun-cool doesn’t get a look in when cross-naggy-daggy gazes back at you from the mirror.
Motherhood does make me cross. Shouty cross. I love my little ferals to distraction and I think they are relatively good kids, but they do irritate the bejesus out of me. I know, children are supposed to be noisy and messy and smelly and intrusive; but their sapling status makes these traits only slightly less annoying.
But what aggravates me even more is the large pile of expectation that sits on the shoulders of mothers next to the large pile of washing; expectation of what we are supposed to be doing with said irritating ferals.
“Milly just loves the minted quinoa salad I put in her lunch box, oh and she’s doing so well at violin – three’s never too young. Did I tell you Finley’s already recognising flash cards?” Says some Smarmy Marmy at the park. I want to rush home, book a tutor, a piano teacher and a footy coach and wallpaper the house in words from the magic 200.
So it seems that motherhood makes me cross and insecure. I question pretty much everything I do in relation to my children. Should I try controlled crying? Should I keep breastfeeding? Should I be showing them the dead budgie and a doco about famine? Should I let them go or should I watch them? Should I structure them or let them find their own fun? Should I call a penis a penis or a doodle? Should I stop shoulding all over everyone?
And then there’s all the literature, self-help stuff, research and articles that plops more questions into mum’s worry pot. Oh look, here’s one telling me that drinking alcohol whilst pregnant causes learning deficits. And if your baby doesn’t crawl she will be crap at maths. Teach them about privacy and money and jazz and ovaries and the evils of sugar and the joys of nature. Give them space, give them boundaries, give them opportunities but don’t push them, be patient, be honest but don’t tell them you tried pot, be organised but don’t rush, plan ahead but stay in the moment, take time for yourself.
Wait a minute, how do I stay in the moment if I’m busy being organised and getting the kids off to jazz class and on nature rambles and reading to them and teaching them about compost and worms whilst getting worms and nits out of them?
Help! I haven’t even got to sleep or washing or cooking or having a social life or a good credit rating or a bit of a hobby. Or a bit of nookie.
Here’s my theory: I would be less cross and insecure if we just go back to that oldie-goodie bit of advice: Everything in Moderation.
Everything, including bed bugs and Cheezels. Some days are good mum days where patience and reading and crazy trampoline jumping are things we can do. Other days we are all hurry up, go watch telly and what, jump? but you ruined my pelvic floor and I’ll wee my knickers.
Because if I’m honest (because it’s the best policy according to me when I lecture the children) I can’t be the good mum who makes chores fun and plays charades to stimulate imaginations all of the time. Not even a lot of the time. I know those amazing mums are out there and hats off to them but I’m not one of them. Maybe we all need to fess up and feel ok about our moderate (dodgy) parenting practices.
Here you go, I’ll start – I have been known to rely on telly and I do let them watch Horrible Histories because it has history in the title. I do shove them out the door with a packet of Chupa Chups so I can sweep the floor and check Facebook. I will do a small rain dance the night before an early soccer game and I can’t stand craft with children who can’t make tasteful collage choices. Oh and I rejoice in nutritionally negative two minute noodles.
Mistakes should be made in moderation too. Mistakes make for memorable lessons; they make things interesting and characterful and real.
In fact the only things that shouldn’t be moderated are love and laughter. I know, vomity gestures all ‘round but it’s true. As long as they’re loved and they know so, we should be able to get away with a bit of dodgmongery in the mothering stakes. And every single person benefits from a good dose of daily silly.
So, things to do: hug kids, tell them I think they’re lovely, kick washing machine, shout, kiss banged knee, boil pot for noodles, trip over dog, swear, impersonate an orang-utan, laugh, laugh again…
What is your favourite piece of parenting advice? Tell us in the comments!
She is a farmer's wife, mother, writer and actor who thinks too much, dreams too much and swears too much.