‘Kids are mean’ we say it to our own children, we say it when we pick baby names (you can’t choose this it rhymes with that and kids are mean), we KNOW kids can be cruel, but we don’t necessarily expect our own kids to be quite as cruel as they sometimes are.
Last night I was up at midnight icing (badly I would add) a two tier Alice in Wonderland cake. I was hacked off, I had already burnt one tier before icing had begun, the kitchen looked like an icing sugar bomb had exploded and I was seriously considering attacking the nearest cake shop first thing this morning. I had, however, made a promise to my daughter and I intended to keep that promise.
‘She can’t say I never do anything for her.’ I muttered as my husband came to see if I was ever coming to bed. ‘She doesn’t think that,’ he sympathised, and we both know, deep down, she realises I do lots for her. However, she has made it fairly plain recently that I am not the number one parent. Last week I left her at school forty minutes longer than she should have been. On Saturday her younger sister threw up which meant I couldn’t attend her choir performance. She uttered the words, ‘I hate you’ for the first time. I knew I would get them one day, but I thought it would hit sometime around puberty, not a week before she turns seven. On Mother’s Day evening (a day I am fairly certain they are contractually obligated to be nice to us) she told me that I had lost the spark that Roald Dahl talks about in Danny the Champion of the world (which I sat reading to her at bedtime). I was, apparently, ‘no longer fun’ and she said that aside from when we are on holiday I hadn’t been fun since she was in preschool.
If there had been a camera on me that very second you would have been able to see my world shatter a tiny bit. My husband said that she was naughty to say that, that he would have words, but you know what, something must have made her say it in the first place. Have I lost my spark? Have I become boring since she started school? School has certainly upped the level of hectic, we no longer have time to chill out, every day we are rushing from one after school activity to the next, but it was always her choice to do them, not mine?
I have to admit I spent several days beating myself up, several days also planning a Mad Hatter’s tea party that she will hopefully love, to try and redeem myself a little. Then I stopped giving myself a hard time, if I step back for a moment and look at the situation, I can see I’m not a bad mum at all, sure, I’m not perfect, but none of us are, and I can reel off more good mummy points than I can bad:
- I am always there for her. Sometimes I get bored working from home, but I am there when she is poorly, or during the holidays or for performances.
- When I did briefly go back to work, that was good too, I was earning to provide her financial security and the time I spent with her out of work was focused more on play because I had less of it.
- Every evening I provide a healthy, home cooked meal.
- Their clothes are always clean, their home too and they can always feel safe and comfortable here.
- We read bedtime stories for almost an hour every night, and I can honestly say it’s my favourite time of the day, not because they are going to bed but because we can snuggle up with no distractions and discover a literary adventure together.
- I limit screen time, not to be mean, but so she will always know the proper value of playing in the garden, or with her toys, rather than just zoning out.
- We walk to school every day, she always complains, but it is an hour extra exercise a day which I know will be good for her in the long run.
- I am always there for cuddles, to listen if she needs to talk, to appreciate the little things she does or says.
I will go forward recognising that all the things I do everyday are to keep my children healthy, happy and looked after, and that could never make me a bad mum. I will also accept that maybe I am not as fun on a day to day basis, there seems to always be something to do, something to cook, something to wash. Of course I am more fun in the holidays, because I can step away from the routine and chill out a bit. However, I don’t want to be seen as the boring one, and I don’t want routine to take over my life, so, although it hurt, I am glad she said it. I will try not to rush as much, I will try to play a little bit more, I will find my imagination once again, and I will try to regain my spark, I’m just sorry that I lost it. As for the ‘I hate you’ comment... man... kids are mean.