The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Your hand in mine

on February 13, 2016

It has been seven years, one month and three days since #1 arrived and turned our world upside down. Making it a much better place and changing the value of things that I thought I once knew. The value of time being one of them. It goes by too fast. The value of creating memories. To look back upon because time goes by too fast. The value of my own judgement. Am I making the right decisions in guiding #1, 2 and 3. Especially #1.

 

Why would this be so? I often feel #1 gets a rough deal. There really isn’t that much difference in years between #1 and #3. Yet #1 is definitely seen as being the older, responsible one. How can he not be? There are two impressionable younger siblings to emulate his behaviour. Very keenly as well. Not much encouragement is needed for #2 and #3 to follow in his footsteps. The good stuff of course we let them roll with it but the not so good stuff, well you just can’t. It would turn an already chaotic household into an unruly one that would have people running in the opposite direction for fear of the terrible family with the feral children.

 

It occurred to me the other day that whilst I may act like the Parent-in-Charge, the one setting boundaries and seemingly with all the answers, it’s actually #1 leading the way. It is his growing needs, interests and behaviour that shapes most of our parenting. Being the first of them all, we started this parenting journey together and what we know and we have have done differently with #2 and 3 has been because of what we have learnt with #1.

 

I’ve had an interesting turnaround of opinion right now as a parent. I remember those early days and the sleep deprived nights that really put a ravine between your Life With Sleep and your Life With No Sleep. We think those days are hard. The seemingly endless feeding, cleaning, changing of nappies that made up the early routines that quickly turned into cuddles, giggles and chubby cuteness. Chasing after the runaway toddler and the reading of the same book on loop night after night. Enjoying the key milestones they reach, all well documented in thousands of photographs.

 

Then there are the moments that you’d rather forget. The not so easy times that leave you all exhausted and yearning for the clock to reach 7pm so you can put them to bed and draw a line under that particular day. Perhaps you’ve yelled at each other and made a number of serious threats. Perhaps you’ve lost it completely and feel full of guilt at not keeping one’s shit together. Especially when you think that you’re the only one who gets wound up so easily at the defiant, unreasonable and downright bewildering behaviour your child, made from your genes has managed to exhibit. Just ignore it. Let it wash over you. You’d ignore that really annoying person you know in your place of Gainful Employment. You can hold your thoughts when someone is being highly unreasonable anywhere else. Yet a 7 year old, and on occasion a 5 and 3 year old can make you suddenly vent in ways that you didn’t think possible.

 

   

How is it possible? Seemingly calm, rational and regular with other grown ups do you turn into a screaming banshee at times with your own offspring. It’s because I always make the mistake of assuming they are capable of calm rational reasoning like most other grown ups I know. How simple is it to understand that I said no more snacks because it will be tea time in just five minutes. But Mummy, I’m hungry. I know and tea time will be in 5 minutes. But I don’t want to eat my dinner. I want to eat toast. I’m hungry. Then you’ll eat your dinner super fast won’t you. But Mummy, can I have a snack please. What did I just say? What happened to the dictatorship we once had? Regular as Gina Ford predicted.

 

I still don’t get the why bother asking me a question or for permission if you’re just going to go ahead and do as you please. That is for much later on in life when you’re not seeking someone’s approval, you’re just politely informing them of what you intend to do anyways.  So when asked, can we watch tv? Not right now, you’ve watched quite a bit already. But Mummy, can we watch tv. I said not right now. But Muuuummmmy, can we watch tv.

 

 

Same goes for can we have a biscuit, ice cream, play on the iPad, phone and I’m constantly saying not right now, later, how about something else. By constantly asking for stuff you know I’m going to say No to then you’re taking all the fun out of parenting. No one likes to be the person that takes the fun away. But that’s what it often feels like. Especially in triplicate.

 

And what happens when you say No but they go ahead and do it anyways? Rage is what happens. Disappointment, anger and fury that leads to the dark side. Bewilderment and confusion too. What is it about my children that makes them not listen to a word I say. I actually can hear myself sometimes and lose the will to carry on. No one appears to be listening. Nothing is registering. Eyes are blank and their thoughts are probably chasing after Lego Stars Wars, rainbows and unicorns.

 

And yet I have to carry on. As much as it would be nice not to have to correct behaviour that would have them deemed feral in some circles just so I could give myself a break. The truth is, they rarely put a foot out of place with other people who are not me. A delight to teach, very helpful, never a cross word are phrases I have heard about them. It’s a relief to know this of course. But why can’t we have a day, weekend, week of never a cross word?

 

Recently it got to a point with #1 where there were far too many days filled with cross words. With nothing getting through. Lots of anger and upset on both sides. It hit a pinnacle before I realised it was me that needed to break the cycle. I was focussing on the wrong thing, as I’m sure the Generic Parenting Guides could have told me but sometimes with so many other things going on you miss the point.

 

#1 may have turned seven but it’s still only seven. In my mind he was this boy growing up so fast and at times he’s astounded me with his thought processes and questions. He’s interested in many things and is kind and caring. Naturally he likes to wind up #2 and she’s an easy target but because of the volume of noise that ensues, it can get blown out of proportion and the amount of times you are roped in to play referee is tiring. Sort it out yourselves, as a friend once advised her own children, if there’s no blood then I don’t need to know.

 

Of course he’s going to try it on. I said just the one pineapple tart and he sneaks in another when he thinks I won’t know but I always do know because I’m looking out for it. And because he knows I almost always find him out, he knows (sometimes) not to do it again (but easily forgets this).

 

Choose your battles. I understand that better too now. You can’t pick up on everything. Otherwise it does get to a point where you seem to be critical of everything they do and neither of you will like you for it.

 

I look back to when #1 was this tiny bundle of new discoveries to be made. How frightening it was to have this responsibility of something so precious. Wishing away the days when both of you were exhausted and crying thinking it will be easier when they get older. It is in many ways. But not so in many others. The parenting journey is forever changing and #1 is teaching me new things all the time.

 

Time goes by so fast. Every day that I hold #1’s hand in mine I inwardly smile and think how his hand still has that child like roundness to it. Everyday I hold each of their hands. Just so I will have those memories for when they think they’re a bit too old for it and I will try and not be too upset about that. Not in front of them at least.

 

I’m sure there will be other challenging days ahead and we will both be yelling at each other which sounds totally ridiculous when I say it out loud here.  I’m 41 and he’s seven for goodness sake.

 

But to have your hand in mine is one of my greatest simple treasures. It’s a reminder that I’m here to guide #1, 2 and 3. I’m not really sure how but together I’m sure we’ll figure it out somehow.
   
 

 

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