When you become a mother you are suddenly in possession of an immense amount of power. You are suddenly responsible for the life being of an entire human being. A human being that depends on you for everything, from day to day survival, food and warmth, and also to be raised in a way that produces a good, responsible and kind person.
In the words of Spider-Man; with great power comes great responsibility.
When there is great responsibility that brings pressure. Not just regular pressure but parenting pressure.
You want to do this well. You love that little human more than anything you’ve ever known, you value them, you cherish them, and then the little sod throws a screaming fit because you won’t let them have an ice lolly right before dinner and tells you that you’re not their friend anymore.
The problem is when you’re being a mum it is incredibly easy to fail. You set standards so high for yourself to make sure your child turns out exactly how you want that you forget that they’re a child. And there is nothing children are better at than derailing plans.
I’ll give you a for instance.
Making sure Miss Rose has healthy, balanced meals has always been a priority for me and I’ve been super lucky that Rose loves her food and has a super varied diet. The other night I made her a beautiful omelette, one of her favourite foods in the world. It has sweetcorn, onions, spinach and cheese in. She helped mix it, she eagerly watched it cooking, and she sat at the table ready to eat it.
Or so I thought.
About three mouthfuls in she declared she didn’t want it she wanted chocolate spread on toast.
I refused and said she could have toast if she ate her dinner.
Well, what followed was a remarkable display. It involved rolling around on the floor howling as if she’d been beaten. She cried, she wailed, she screamed. She declared she hates her dinner, only likes toast and hates everyone.
Quite frankly it was ridiculous. We negotiated. She ate half her omelette and was rewarded with chocolate spread on toast.
She should have eaten all her dinner. She shouldn’t have howled and wailed for toast in the first place. I should have banned her from toast because of that ridiculous display.
Instead, I ate leftover omelette whilst she smugly munched on chocolate spread on toast.
It’s so easy to give yourself a hard time for things that don’t go to plan. Things you consider failures.
When your baby doesn’t sleep through the night, you blame yourself. When your child won’t eat their dinner, you blame yourself. When your baby doesn’t meet milestones, you blame yourself. When your child has a screaming tantrum because they have to get out of the bath, you blame yourself.
It’s how you raised them, it’s things you’ve taught them.
This job that is so high pressure, so laden with responsibility, and matter so damn much is incredibly easy to mess up. Because kids aren’t like a normal job.
If you input numbers into a spreadsheet wrong, you’ll go wrong. If you input them correctly, it’ll be right. Every time.
If you raise your children with the same values, boundaries and guidance each day, sometimes it’ll go smoothly and sometimes they’ll implode over the colour of a cup. Because children are unpredictable. Children are monsters.
And because every time you “fail” at parenting you feel even worse about yourself than any other failure in your life, and let’s be honest if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself facing a certain degree of failure every day and at least one biggun a week, it makes an already difficult job even harder. Because instead of just moving onto the next parenting experience you’re still beating yourself up over the last one.
So we need to stop thinking of ourselves as failures and start thinking about things as new challenges to learn from.
Our kids will change even when the rules don’t. They’ll push at boundaries we’ve long ago set as immovable. They’ll throw new and creative ways to make us lose our minds at us, even when we think we’ve got it figured out.
Instead of crushing ourselves over our failures, we need to give ourselves a break. Stop punishing ourselves for not having three year olds who behave like well mannered thirty year olds. Because they’re not. They’re three. They’re going to explode over stuff we don’t understand, they’re going to forget the rules or test the rules or disregard the rules. They’re going to lose their shit with us more than anyone else because we’re the people they’re safest with so we take the brunt of their pain and anger.
Because they don’t understand either. They are confused about why they feel how they do. They are struggling to fill their already overwhelmed brains with more rules, more feelings, more experiences.
We haven’t failed them. We’ve experienced them.
We just have to keep learning, keep trying. Keep trying to figure out how to raise them to be happy people who will have happy lives when they leave our sides. And stop hating ourselves for going through what mothers have gone through everywhere in the world throughout time.
We love them. But they torture us.
But we just keep on loving them. And that’s all we can do.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!