Sometimes, I’m not the mum I’d like to be. Or the mum I thought I’d be. Times like this morning, when I got so so cross, possibly the most cross I’ve ever been with you. Or maybe the second most cross. But very cross anyway. To be fair, one of you had dropped a pair of pants and a cushion into a full potty which resulted in me being splashed in the face with wee, so I don’t blame myself for being upset. But I’m now far more upset with my reaction than I ever was about the wee in the face.
Because I didn’t react like the mum I’d like to be. The mum I’d like to be would have taken a few seconds to compose herself (and wash her face) before calmly explaining to you that flinging yourself around on the sofa, burying your head in cushions and generally being uncooperative while you’re being spoken to is not a good way to behave. And that you need to be careful when there are potties nearby and not fling things about.
But your mum didn’t do that. Your mum shouted and asked why you couldn’t just behave properly, before plonking you on the naughty step. Your mum stormed off upstairs with tears in her eyes, knowing straight away that she’d reacted in a way that wouldn’t benefit anyone.
What I really wanted was for you to understand what you’d done wrong and to know that you shouldn’t do it again, but all I actually did was make myself hoarse and upset. And I’ve been going over it all day in my head – how I should have reacted, what I did wrong, what the mum I’d like to be would have done.
You haven’t been going over it all day in your head that’s for sure. You’ve just been getting on as normal playing trains and lining up cars.
I see the mum I’d like to be all the time. I see her when I’m out and about with you all, I see her at playgroups, I see her on the school run. She rarely has a child hanging off her legs and if she does then she handles it in an appropriate manner. She doesn’t have that struggling-to-keep-it-together look about her, in fact she’s got a calm look in her eyes. She has infinite patience. And because she hasn’t used up all her energy shouting at her children, she has some left over for exercise so she might be in her running kit or about to head to the gym.
I’d love to be this mum and I promise, boys, I do try every day. When you, eldest boy, ask me for the seventeenth time about Christmas Island Red Crabs, I’d love to say, ‘let’s look them up in your encyclopedia and read about them together’ instead of ‘sorry but I really need to sort the twins out as one of them seems to be doing a handstand on the coffee table. We’ll have a look later’.
But the thing is, boys, sometimes I just don’t know what I’m doing. I didn’t get to have a trial beforehand to check if I was actually any good at being a mum – I got this job without any sort of application or interview. And I don’t have a manager checking how I’m getting on, I’m just making it all up and sometimes I’m just a bit rubbish at it. I wasn’t anticipating two of you to come along at once, and there is so much going on in this house that most of the time I don’t know where to start with anything. So I often get it wrong, then I get cross with you over something silly and I’m telling myself off and feeling guilty and wishing I was more like all those other mums all over again.
Maybe the mum I’d like to be doesn’t really exist. Perhaps she puts on a very good show of calm at the school gates and then it all falls apart when she gets home. I can’t imagine it somehow. I imagine that when she gets home she’s probably sitting down with her children doing crafts or playing games.
So I’m sorry boys for what happened today, I really am. My promise to myself (and to you) is to give myself three seconds to stop and think before reacting. I will keep trying to be more like the calmer mums, although I can’t promise craft sessions. Nor will I be going to the gym.
So that’s my promise. And now I’d like you to promise me that you’ll never splash me in the face with wee ever again please.
PS. A note for my mum – if you’ve read this, you’re probably about to text me to say that I’m being hard on myself. Thank you (but I’m not being hard on myself). x