My last blog was about religion but I had put a poll on my Instagram and a lot of people had voted for something on parenting. I've realised that I can only really blog about what falls into my lap and what I'm experiencing. And a few weeks ago that happened to be some heavy feelings about my faith. This week however, I am going to open up about some parenting stuff and basically share a lot of my insecurities!
A few weeks ago my 4 year old daughter said something to me that cut me really deep. She's just a little thing asking an innocent question with no clue of what the implications could be. She had no idea that what she said would hurt my feelings but mostly because I knew what she said was true.
I was feeding them cereal (for dinner by the way, since we are keeping this real - I did it all the time as a kid it won't kill them) and her younger brother knocked his bowl over with the milk and cereal flying everywhere. This happens every single day no matter how much Mark and I try to prevent it (as I'm sure it does to most 2 year olds). I raised my voice and told little Mark to sit at peace and eat properly - probably because I was tired and it had been a stressful day, it was definitely an over-reaction.
Lillie looked at me with her innocent little eyes and said 'Mummy, why are you angry all of the time?' Ouch. I instantly went on the defensive and said 'I'm not - Why? Do you think I am?' and she nodded. I left the room and cried in my bed. I felt so hurt by the question but so guilty too. Why was I angry all of the time?
Firstly, I'm just going to put something out there that might be quite shocking for some people. Looking after children IS NOT EASY. Giving up your body for 9 months each time you produce another human being? NOT EASY. Keeping said human being(s) alive till they're fully grown? NOT EASY. I mean I know women have been doing it since the beginning of time, churning them out and growing them up, but believe me - definitely NOT EASY.
Don't get me wrong I love all of my children - to death. I love them so much that I squeeze each of them probably a bit too hard and a bit too often every single day. At bedtime I check on each of them 3 separate times as well as the door locks. Spending time with them is wonderful and often so rewarding. But you know what? Sometimes it's crap. Really really crap. Sometimes they drive me crazy. So crazy, that yep you've guessed it - I get angry.
All the parenting books and websites will tell you that getting angry is bad and we should never raise our voices at our children. And you know what? I would love to fulfil that perfect prophecy of parenting. But let's be real - we're human beings and sometimes we get angry about stuff. Sometimes we lose patience, we get frustrated, we feel irritable. It's natural and normal and pretty much inevitable!
One thing I've learned is that to be a parent, you have to be mentally strong. And in my experience being a parent who stays at home with my kids (all day long alone) mental strength is so crucial. There are so many days that I can go hours and hours without interacting with another adult. You'll often find me cleaning poo off the floor that my almost 3 year old has smeared everywhere, whilst my 7 month old screams in her high chair because she is insistent on me holding her every single second of every day, just as my 4 year old has finished screaming 'flips sake' (often repeating things learned from her parents) in her rage over me telling her she could not have another sandwich since dinner is being served in 5!
And yes that is as hectic and stressful as it sounds. Actually no - it's worse. A lot worse. So the parenting job is tough work and sometimes it's so tough I can react in an angry way. But there's other reasons for my anger too. Too often our angry attitudes in life are the results of pain and heartache. And pain is something I've felt a lot of. Pain in loss, in broken relationships, in broken faith and then the pain that comes from reacting to that pain in a way that I don't want to.
You see my primary role right now is to be a parent but I'm still a human being, feeling all of the feelings. I can't switch them off but I can sometimes bury them, although it's definitely not the healthiest approach when I see them bear their ugly heads on a stressful day at home!
Maybe I need to take a self-care class but let's be honest? As parents, we tend to put our children first and life is so busy that we don't always stop to take care of ourselves and our feelings. We carry all that pain, stress, guilt and self-loathing and we try to keep it locked up inside only to have it spew out all over the kitchen table one day, joining the home cooked meal you spent forever making, thrown in rage by one of your mini humans.
The funny thing about children is that they're so forgiving. Just as we forgive them for their age appropriate tantrums, they forgive us for ours. They love us and love us and love us and love us. A few weeks ago Lillie asked me why I was angry all of the time but just yesterday she told me I was the best mummy ever. This compliment came with a huge hug. And it's in the moments like these that it hits me - I'm not angry ALL of the time. I'm not failing as a parent. I'm not a bad mum! I'm actually a freaking great one! Why else would my little boy constantly tell me in his cute voice that I'm his 'best friend?'
Why else would my oldest daughter stop me outside of the supermarket (after having picked her up from a sleepover) to say wait mummy I didn't hug you yet? Why else would my 7 month old baby kick her legs and smile anytime she sees my face? Ok fair enough I am her source of food at the moment but believe me there is love there too! They all love me and they all think I'm awesome - so I should too! I should love me and think myself awesome and give myself a lot more credit. Because do you know what? I deserve it.