Sometime after 7 this evening, I had a nice little sit on my front doorstep. I’m not sure how long I was out there – 15 minutes maybe. No phone, no drink, no ipod, no book – just me and my house keys. For the first 30 seconds I could hear the crying – that proper raw, distressed crying. In my head I could see those huge puddle-like tears rolling down your cheeks. You’re good at those. But then it went quiet. I watched some cars park, I smelt the lavender, I watched the bees, I looked at the sky, I wondered what the neighbours would think if they could see me out there by myself. I thought, guiltily, that sitting outside with nothing to do was rather pleasant and that I should do it more often.
I wondered whether it was safe to return. And then I did; and it was.
Sitting on my doorstep isn’t what I’m normally doing at 7.15pm. Usually I am reading, tucking in, taking boys to the toilet, saying night night and then doing it all over again. But today, well today I think we all realised that the end of the summer holidays is approaching and that actually, we could do with getting back into a routine. We hadn’t had the easiest day and I needed to leave bedtime to daddy. But one of the just-turned-4-year-olds and I have a little issue at the moment, don’t we sweetheart? That issue being that, at times of high emotion (ie. bedtime), mummy is absolutely the only one who will do. For the last couple of weeks, bath/story/bed time is accompanied by this sort of soundtrack:
- Time to get out of the bath – ‘neeeeed mummmyyyyy’
- Time to brush teeth – ‘But I NEEEEEED YOU, mummmyyyyy!’
- Right, daddy’s ready for stories – ‘NO, I want MUMMMMYYYY!‘
You hang off my legs, you hang off my clothes, you use me as a punchbag when it all gets too much then ask for cuddles to feel better…..AND wipe your snotty nose over me. When you really want to get your own way, you try adding a ‘y’ to the end of your words, as if that will do the trick: ‘Can I have a piggyback-y? But yessy…….pleeeeease-y.’
Just for the record, this makes me less likely to do whatever it is you’re asking for. Please don’t try it when you’re 16.
There is, at the moment, a lot going on for you – I know that. You are, for a start, growing at such a rate that every time I get out a pair of trousers for you they are too short. I know that must be sapping you of energy. You’ve had all the excitement of your birthday, you’re about to start school, and mummy keeps asking you to try on your new school trousers which must be annoying. It’s all go and emotions are running high. I do understand it, sweetheart. But sometimes…..well sometimes I need to say no and let someone else get on with it. Partly for my own sanity, and partly because I want you to understand that actually, you don’t need mummy all the time. You really don’t.
I hadn’t planned on leaving the house. I just wanted to come downstairs for a sit down and a cuppa, but you wouldn’t let me. It’s not the same as leaving a crying baby who can’t move – you can follow me everywhere, and at the moment you do. You followed me downstairs and you wanted to follow me outside too – you were on the rampage, furious because I’d told you that daddy would be reading your story. And we all know daddy is so much better at stories than worn out mummy! It broke my heart when you put your little Crocs on and came running after me. And of course you can open the front door, so I had to lock it behind me. Was I cruel? I don’t think so. No, it hadn’t been the best day but I sensed your fractious mood from the start and I had tried my best. We went to the cinema, we played games, you raced round the garden with your water pistol, you had sausages for tea. But you don’t need mummy every single second, and sometimes it’s good to be reminded of that.
So for 15 minutes I sat. I watched the world outside my front door and I let my mind wander. You went to bed with no problem and I, deliberately, still haven’t been into your room to check on you. I know you’re fine, and probably had a much happier and more peaceful bedtime without me there.
Sometimes, a little time-out for mummy is the best thing for everyone. Let’s try and remember that tomorrow, shall we.