Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for my children and for the opportunity to mother them, but this doesn’t mean that parenting is all that I want to do in my life. In fact I sometimes find parenting hard going, demanding both physically, mentally and emotionally. There are times when it leaves me shattered and feeling as if I have given so much and I don’t have anything more to go, or occasionally I don’t want to give any more. But of course you have to carry on.
This weekend was a case in point. I somehow managed to get through three days at home and still be behind on cleaning, laundry and tidying. I was so tired but hadn’t achieved anything. Because we spent so much time indoors, the boys were going crazy and wrestling their way round the house, Little Lady decided to give the noise and chaos a miss and disappeared to my mum’s house. The babies are both currently keeping me on my toes. Darling can be the sweetest soul in our home, but she is so sensitive that anything can set her off. Once she goes down the slippery road of feeling frustrated, telling her off or trying to get her to calm down just sends her into a whirlwind of crying with her sobbing until she falls asleep. The only things that works is holding her close, telling her you love her and letting her sit quietly with you. Most of the time this is a balm to us both, but there are some times when I am so fed up and furious and she has managed to wind everyone up with her demands that the one thing I don’t want to do is sit and hug her.
Baby is her usual demented self. Mash’Allah she is the only one of my children to have my strength and energy. Of course she is using it against me. Nothing that is not nailed down is left unturned, or pulled out, or spilled over. She wants my chocolate, she wants to eat from my plate not hers (as does Darling), she wants any glass of water or juice she claps eyes on, leaving me slightly dehydrated because I have given up on putting a glass within reach of anywhere I sit down where it will be spilled. The child has even run off with my lukewarm coffee, spilling half in my lap and taking a swig from the rest, so now she has decided she likes that too. I love her mischief, I love her curiosity and resilience. But I can forget doing anything for myself. I used to sit in the middle of my big bed when I wanted to put things out of reach (like my laptop or jewellery making supplies), but this weekend she managed to climb up by standing on a pair of my shoes and pulling herself up. So now my stuff is safe nowhere, especially as she gave me a scare by running off with a little tray of my beads and trying to eat them at the same time.
So by the end of the weekend, my brain was numb. I couldn’t think straight and I felt depressed and miserable. I didn’t manage to get anywhere with house work, I didn’t get to do anything I enjoyed and I didn’t feel relaxed. In fact I felt like I was going back to another challenging week at work feeling frazzled and fed up. In the end I vented a little at my husband who helped talk me down from my miserable place a little and just gave up and had an very early night for a change.
I might sound like a miserable, ungrateful cow. But the experience was quite instructive, as these usually turn out to be once you have had some time to mull over them. There is only so much you can give until you start to feel like a drudge. You begin to feel unappreciated and everything you do starts to feel a little pointless because the kids are still fighting, and still swearing and after a whole day of trying to be a peaceful parent you still flip and end up shouting loudly enough for the neighbours to hear you and the kids to get a little scared.
The weekend was a reminder of the need for nourishment for ourselves: rest for our bodies, a break for our minds and spiritual and emotional sustenance. We are in it for the long haul, twenty years or more, for the rest of our lives even, the most important thing in our lives will be the wellbeing of our children. No one can sustain that kind of investment, without investing in themselves as well.
Once we make the investment in ourselves, we are refreshed, happy and positive. We can take better care of those around us and do so happily, giving our time, attention, our hugs and our patience. So taking better care of ourselves is not selfish or a luxury, but an essential part of being generous, loving parents.
So today, I gave the kids an early dinner, watched a TED Talk (on parenting funnily enough) and wrote this blog post. I spent most of the hour I have taken telling them to go away and leave me alone and getting mostly ignored. At the end of the hour they have finally gotten bored of complaining to me about each other and disappeared. I can hear Baby talking to herself in her baby language in her brother’s room, which means she is probably emptying all of the football cards and toys out. Darling has cuddled up next to me and is day-dreaming quietly after telling me “Don’t worry Mummy, I had enough of the boys too”.
I feel like I have done something for myself, I can attack the crazy pile of laundry left over from the weekend and have another go at clearing my kitchen up (we have had a plumber in two days in a row to fix our boiler and he and hubby manage to rearrange everything in the kitchen).
I might even get the baby’s in bed shortly, pray in peace and spend a little time making myself a nice bracelet. That would be really lovely (The boys are complaining that the Baby has thrown all of their stuff everywhere, oh well).