A good friend once told me she experienced guilt because after trying to have conceive for many years, when she finally had children, she found she didn’t like it much sometimes.
It’s not something anyone wants to admit. Sometimes people don’t like being parents. I find I love being a mum, but occasionally find myself not liking the doing part of being a mum – breaking up arguments, dirty nappies, potty training, sleepless nights, making food that everyone decides they don’t want to eat, putting someone to bed for the third time or dragging them into the bathroom because they won’t brush their teeth. It can feel like there are a million things you are dying to do, but you are stuck doing the hundred things you don’t want to do for the hundredth time.
I sometimes get to the end of my weekend and find myself running out of time, I have to defer some chores and tasks for the next weekend. Some I decide I will do through the week, others I cannot leave and start to get through as fast as I can (uniforms, work clothes, dinner, packed lunches, bath time etc). It’s usually around this time I started to get a little stressed. Today it was at this time that the older kids decided to leave their food half eaten and the babies decided they didn’t want to eat their food. While I was trying to coax the babies into eating, the boys decided to eat fruit instead and made a big mess in the kitchen. With everything else piling up I decided that enough was enough.
Some yelling happened, I managed to make my throat hurt, I managed not to say anything mean, but they knew I was not having any more: wasted food, wasted time spent cooking, always someone who decided it’s not what they wanted to eat and what really set me off – one of the boys deciding that they wanted to use one particular glass rather than another which they would never use, because they saw a fly sitting on it once – really? Seriously? How many things are off limits in our kitchen having been rendered unusable/unclean because something may have sat on it/buzzed near it/looked at it? This coming from the kid I once caught picking up his little potty training potty that had been left in the garden and drinking rain water out of it (thankfully he then threw it up). In fact next time he tells me he can never use that glass or spoon, I’m going to remind him of his potty cup.
After the shouting, the boys disappeared ridiculously quickly and Baby sauntered off because nothing bothers her as long as she is free to continue on her trail of destruction. In contrast Darling held onto me and sobbed breathlessly, pleading with me to “be kind mummy, be kind”. I told her she had to eat her dinner first – so at least one of them managed to eat.
Then I did the thing that helps me every time I get like this. The one thing that is counter-intuitive and I don’t want to do. I swallowed my pride, picked up Darling and cuddled her in my lap. I held her until I felt better and she was soothed and a little less breathless. I left the mess in the kitchen, the dishes to be washed. I got the older kids to help finish some of the chores and help bath and change the babies. I put them all in bed and ignored the whispering and giggling.
Then I sat down to write, let it all out, try to find some perspective. My husband came home shortly after and I vented a little. I got him to agree to take them boys with him to the masjid on weekends. I made an intention to stop making different foods so that everyone has something they want to eat. Instead I am going to make them lentils, or veg for the next few days – they can take it or leave it.
Then I reminded myself how lucky I was to have them, how much they meant to me and all of the things I loved about each and every one of them.