I was the world’s best mother once upon a time. I had it all figured out!
Once upon a time I didn’t cut the crusts of sandwiches.
My children ate all their well balanced, healthy meals gratefully.
We sat at the table together to eat them.
I had clean, tidy children with brushed hair, neat clothes, and matching socks. Their clothes were never stained – oh no!
My children were always polite, remembering their please and thank yous and smiling while they delivered them.
They didn’t fight with each other.
They came when they were called and carried out helpful tasks without complaint.
My children never ate toast on my bed.
My children only watched ABC for kids, and only occasionally at that.
Then I actually gave birth to them.
My first child ate healthy well balanced meals but I cut the crusts of her sandwiches because she ate more if I did.
My second child came along and showed me that all children do NOT eat healthy meals if you just give them no alternative (boy did I swallow some smug!). Some children would sooner starve than eat meat and vegetables. Plain pasta with butter, salt, and vegetable stock all the way, but leave off the rest. We didn’t actually have a dining table so we ate off our laps and watched TV. The Simpsons weren’t on ABC kids at that time.
My third child came along then and the fighting began. Number three put paid to the “my children are polite” nonsense. He’s been rude to everyone, and I’ve wished the ground would open and swallow me up on more than one occasion. Calling an elderly woman at the bus stop a “poo head” when she said he had lovely hair was particularly memorable.
Then number four came along. I tear the crusts these days, who has time for cutting them off? One eats fruit, one vegetables, and one eats meat. Between them they have a balanced diet.The eldest fancies herself as a vegan in the making. Don’t get me started on that.
We fought a jumper onto number 3 this morning but it only lasted about half an hour because he found his embarrassingly filthy, ripped and torn Spiderman suit. Number 2 refuses to change his pants “because these ones are warm”. They’re also FILTHY and no amount of soaking gets those grass stains out …. so we gave up on that a couple of years ago. Number 4 has the lone PAIR of socks on today, we’re not sure who originally owned them but they’re keeping his feet warm so ownership, and the fact that the heel is half way up his leg is irrelevant, right?
Number 4 has just climbed up on the coffee table and is shouting at the top of his lungs in baby gibberish. He used an upside down pot to get up there, he got it out of the kitchen cabinet. Again. Number 3 is watching Peppa Pig on youtube (it was originally on ABC for kids, that’s arguably a win!) Number 2 is begging to watch Avatar and doing impressive airbending at the dog. Number 1 ….. she’s watching Breaking Bad. She’s 16 so it’s legal! She’s also yelling at number 2 that it is HIS TURN to feed the dog and he won’t be weasling his way out of it.
The irrefutable truth is that I was an AWESOME mother until I had children! I really was. I was conscientious, organised, I was unflappable. I could sort an argument before it began with nothing but a quivering look …. in truth I was SUPER MUM! Until I gave birth to them all.
Now I’m just a good enough mother. I don’t need to be perfect because I think it’s important for them to see that everyone, even their mother has human failings, that no one has inexhaustible resources, that no one is perfect.
I may not be perfect but I love them all to bits, and they know they’re loved. It occurs to me, as a mother of four, that it’s more important for them to be loved unconditionally than to have matching socks…. and the toast crumbs are only in my bed anyway (where either 2 or 3 may or may not have been watching something other than ABC kids).
FOR FURTHER READING