The Unpredictability of Parenting
I love being a mum. I am enormously proud of myself for raising two kids, whilst juggling two jobs and a business, and maintaining a pretty decent relationship with my husband and my family. If you were ask to me how I felt about being a parent, I’d probably say something like “it’s hilarious and relentless and brilliant.” I love being part of the mum gang - the fashion, the coffee, the playgroups (I sing with gusto and love a snack, so am in heaven at a Sing and Sign). If there’s one thing I struggle with however, it’s the wretched unpredictability of the game.
Most mornings (unless granny childcare is in charge), I get up, change the kids’ nappies/pull-ups, dress them and give them breakfast, clear up, play with them for a while and then leave them at childcare/go out for a day of fun.
So simple, right? And now here’s what actually happens over two days:
6.45am “Mummy? Is it morning? My sun is out!” I’m already dressed and stretched - I go into my daughter’s room, who is happy and smiley, excited about the day ahead. She happily wears the outfit I suggest. We go into her brother’s room, change his nappy, dress him and go downstairs for breakfast.
At breakfast we listen to carols on the radio and talk about the things we are grateful for. We all have cereal and porridge and then a big hug. I clear up singing along to “Jingle Bells”, while the kids play in a noisy, happy way.
4.15am “Mummy, I can’t sleep”.... “wughwwahat? What are you doing? Whaaaat?” I stumble into Edie’s room. “You must read me Angelina Ballerina and Alfie otherwise I won’t got back to sleep. I won’t. NO!!!” Eventually she capitulates after I’ve read two books in the dark and I shiver my way back to bed (the heating is off, I’m naked and so confused).
5.30am “MUMMY IS IT MOOOOOOORNING YET??!?!?!?!” .... “JUST SHHH, oh no, you’ve woken your brother.”
6.00am “Mummy can I have a cuddle in your bed?” Edie snuggles in close and strokes my hair. “I love my daughter so much, she is so warm and precious and beautiful, and if anyone ever hurts her I will cut them” (geez how am I so violent - Mum protectiveness in overdrive here...)
6.45am “Mummy I won’t wear those tights you need to find me pink ones NOW.” ...“Edz, please wear your tights and stop upsetting your brother by pretending to be a dinosaur…” “Adam, stop pulling your sister’s hair. WE DON’T BITE.”
Cut to next scene. I’ve dressed and changed both kids, neither of whom were happy about it - a physical workout in itself, but Stage 1 is complete.
Stage 2. The breakfast table. “Chocolate coins for breakfast as it’s Christmas please?” ...“No, maybe later we don’t have chocolate for breakfast” (cue tears from both as both overtired.)
Major tantrum from 23 month old Adam as too much/not enough/wrong kind of milk on cereal/wrong cereal. Crushes dry weetabix with fist and throws whole bowl of milky cereal on floor. Accidentally scratches me (with the nails he won’t let me cut without floods of tears) as I move his chair from the table to clear up. Takes forever to get the milky mush from the big gaps between the floor tiles (previous owner’s choice). Adam continues to scream and kick and Edie says “I’m very cross Adam, this isn’t good enough.” Feel guilty that my daughter knows that expression - she must have learnt it from me.
Five minutes later - “porridge mummy pleeeez” from 23 month old. Porridge needs to cook. Cue second tantrum. Porridge too hot. Adam screams again and chucks his bowl on the floor. I try not to shout. “I JUST CLEANED THAT” I start on, before taking a deep breath after seeing my daughter looking worried at Mummy’s “cross voice.” I’m on my hands and knees again, the cloth getting increasingly claggy between my fingers.
Daughter starts to “dance” with the cereal tupperware (yep, my cereal is in tupperware.) Daughter knocks china bowl on the floor, and it smashes into lots of pieces. Both kids instantly try to “help sweep it up” - I cut my finger doing so. I start to cry. Edie breaking a bowl is not that big a deal and certainly it wasn’t done with malice - I’m just feeling so tired and frustrated that something that should be easy is taking so much effort.
That’s the thing about parenting. It’s just so unpredictable. One day I feel like a total #winner - content, full of joy and - let’s be honest - a bit smug about my awesome parenting. The next - we’re all covered in porridge and the only thing to be smug about is my morning cleaning workout.
I’m working hard on coping with the unpredictability - rolling with the punches, accepting that people change and why should my kids be any different. Using my hypnobirthing affirmations and my breathing techniques. I’m going to keep being kind to myself (eating the Lindt “Christmas” chocolates and watching Bargain Hunt). And I’m going to aim for more family morning cuddles - they really are awesome.