For the last 6 years, a bit over really, I have tormented myself about how I am ‘getting it wrong’ with regards to parenting. When I was pregnant, I agonised about taking folic acid, drinking the odd diet coke, how I was going to give birth, keeping healthy, keep fit, not doing too much. It was never ending and that was before any baby was even born!
Then when first one, then another arrived, there was a whole new set of worries. Most of them hinged around playing with them enough, buying the right toys, would having a sibling be damaging for them, did I do enough craft, enough outings, visit enough people, have enough playdates, swimming, music. It has been exhausting!!
I wanted to do all these crafts, be a Mum who achieved fun all the time, teach them to cook, make sure they can ride bicycles, plant stuff in the garden, grow our own veg, be loving and happy all the time, sing songs and cuddle all day long.
I beat myself up endlessly because most of the time in the early days, just getting to a doctors appointment, was the most stressful event, which took up every minute. Throw in a mega dose of post natal depression and I was often snappy, and fraught and always guilty.
The other day, I had a major realisation. I have been feeling all this angst about what I didn’t do when they were younger, but hang on, they are still young. There is plenty of time for all of the above, after all, my Mum didn’t teach me everything in a few years, in fact, I’m still learning from her now, as a Mother myself!
So I consciously made an effort to stop, and instead, celebrated what I have done with them. The other day after school, it was drizzly and the kids were a bit tired. We were low on ingredients as I, (yet again!), hadn’t got around to ordering a shop, and I’d worked out that we could make cheese and onion quiche and roast potatoes.
So we did. I got them both on chairs at the counter and we made pastry from scratch, they cracked eggs, grated cheese and peeled and chopped the potatoes. I taught them about par-boiling, collecting rosemary and sage from the garden, and they loved it. When we ate it, they were so proud of themselves and it was absolutely delicious. I felt on top of the world and felt like I’d achieved something massive, and so did they. I also got to write a ‘Wow voucher’ for my daughter to take into school to further celebrate her helpfulness.
The realisation that I had the next day, was that I wouldn’t actually have been able to do that when they were younger, they wouldn’t have listened, would have thrown stuff around, they weren’t ready. I did try, but results were messy, disastrous and disappointing. I’ve been tormenting myself for not having spent every minute of every day doing stuff like this, but actually, we have so much time to do these things, years and years of stories and drawings and baking and growing stuff that I’d not even considered in my haste to berate myself about the past.
I’ve been trying to do everything and live up to my ‘perfect mother’ expectations and actually, that is totally unnecessary. I’m not even going to blame pinterest for my unrealistic view of how life should be, it’s actually a brilliant resource but it’s not something I need to aspire to at all times.
Will I be doing such an amazing, creative session every day? Of course not. In fact, the very next day, they were both completely exhausted and so watched telly for most of the afternoon. And that is fine too. The unbelievable pressure we put on ourselves is just crazy. Some days are super duper, fun packed, happy, Mary Poppins-esque days. Some days are not, I’m working, busy, grumpy, the house needs tidying, they have to play by themselves.
And that’s ok!! I’m definitely going to be cutting myself more slack from now on, and not wasting another moment fretting about something I can do nothing about. The past! Having battled with PND and Anxiety for so many years, I’m now learning to channel Elsa and just Let It Go!