I was talking to a fellow mum this morning, when I said to her;
“You know, Inky is the most stubborn wench I’ve ever met. And quite frankly, she’s been a real little Shit this past week.”
Clearly, I don’t feel this way every day and the comment was made half tongue-in-cheek, half serious. There are days (OK, more like hours) when she is the sweetest, most charismatic character that ever walked the planet, but she’s been going through the Terrible Twos a wee bit early and there are days when her behaviour bites fucknuts BIG time.
As an example, you give her one of her dolls, she screams “I don’t wan’ it!” You take it away, she screams “I wan’ it!” You give it back to her, she screams “I don’t wan’ it!!!!!” You get the picture. Even Melbourne Dad, who can muster more patience in a day than I can in a month (and I’m being kind to myself here), said to me after a particularly irrational and indecisive tantrum, “It’s not you. It’s definitely her.” Look, her behaviour is perfectly normal. She is asserting herself, testing the boundaries. You could read a book about normal childhood behaviour along with every loud, boundary-defying episode she has, I get it. But it still SHITS the SHIT out of me.
Which brings me back to this morning’s conversation with my mum friend.
She says with an audible sigh of relief:
“I’m so glad you said that. You know, there are some days I wish I could take my daughter and just leave her on someone else’s doorstep.”
I could feel the guilt in her when she said this, but also the relief. I could tell that she wasn’t used to admitting this to another parent, that talking about having such thoughts was taboo. She’s a friend, but not a close friend, and one who obviously would never give away her kids. I would also never call Inky a little Shit to her face (yeah, much better to do it behind her back). In fact, amongst my close friends (who are mostly a bunch of clowns, so this stuff often gets exaggerated for comedic effect), I kind of talk this way as a second language when I’ve hit The Wall. It is a cathartic release that, in trusted company, resets my CPU. A bit like turning my mum computer off and on again when it flashes up the blue screen of death.
It wasn’t always this way, though.
When Scout was a baby, she was impossible to settle. One day, as I crawled through the smog of sleep deprivation, I was trying to get her down for her day nap and she simply couldn’t, wouldn’t go to sleep. We were both sobbing with pathological tiredness and I was so angry at myself for failing to calm my baby and angry at her for not just swallowing that sweet pill of sleep, I wanted, for a moment, to throw her through the bedroom window. I was so done. To me, at the time, this was the ultimate shame, to think of throwing my precious baby out of a window. I think it goes to the very core of being a mum or a dad, that you would do anything for your kids, give up your life for them, and in these types of weak, horrible moments, thinking awful thoughts is the most shameful thing imaginable. But, I daresay, thoroughly human. Let’s be clear that I’m not talking about parents who systemically abuse their kids (physically, sexually, emotionally, whatever), I’m talking about the vast majority of parents, good parents, probably FABULOUS parents who articulate something inherently shameful to other parents, to let off a bit of steam.
I’m not going to win any originality of the year award by suggesting that parenting is bloody hard, and I think parents are generally quite happy to whinge about their kid’s behaviour, certainly in my friendship circles. But it is not as common to hear parents wishing something quite “wrong” to express a frustration or anger threshold, such as giving their kids away, throwing a screaming baby out of a window, or wanting to smack a toddler on their bot bot HARD even if you not a smacker. The fear of being judged is such a strong one. And certainly when Scout was a baby, I thought someone official could crawl into my head, see what I was thinking and take my kids away based on those thoughts. In a way, it’s a bit like contemplating having an affair with a co-worker – have you cheated if you only think about it?
I would love to be the most patient, non-shouty mum to my kids. But I’m not a patient person, have never been a patient person, so why should I expect myself to become one overnight simply because I gave birth to a 9 pound miracle? When I look around at my kids and the kids of my friends, I see a cloud of basically happy souls, each with their own idiosyncrasies and difficulties to parent, so clearly we are all doing a bang-up job (and just on the quiet, I reckon Melbourne Dad and I are kicking this whole parenting caper in the clacker). I have friends who have special needs kids as well, which no doubt requires an extra layer of super-human patience and tenacity. But we are all human (well, my jury is still out about Miranda Kerr) and whilst I can’t speak for everyone, I think there is a point with most people where the kettle simply boileth over. I don’t think parenting should be about hiding things. About pretending we don’t feel a certain way.
I just think we need to give ourselves a bit, fat fucking break. And call a Stubborn Wench, a Stubborn Wench.
After writing this post, I stumbled across this video from the delightful Laney at Crash Test Mummy. It is a beautiful, optimistic reminder of why we chose to be a mum in the first place and that, in spite of the difficult phases our kids go through and the times we would quite like to smack them on their bot bot, there is nothing in the world like loving our kids. It is perfectly OK to be imperfect and go through rough times and our kids will still love us, they will still look for us across a crowded room and their eyes will still light up when they see us.
The part of the video that most resonated with me is the line “Perfection is Over-rated”. Hell, yes, it is. If we were perfect, there is a good chance our kids would end up like a bunch of model robots, too scared to do anything because they may end up getting it wrong. And I’d much rather cuddle up to a little imperfect bundle of human, than a robot.