I am a Mum. A wife. A possible psychopath. A really decent human being. I am not a maid, I am not a chef, and I’m not hired help.
Anything to do with parenting these days leads us to believe we are always doing something wrong. The societal pressures are beyond normal. I struggle with the idea of what I believe a great parent is. “Great” parents have the washing done, the house clean and take their kids to school themselves every single day. They play with the kids all day and take them on outings during the week with the dog and even have a delicious and healthy packed lunch with kale chips and yogurt.
This is not me.
The truth is, my dining room table hasn’t been sat at for days because the washing pile is so high we wouldn’t be able to sit at it and see each others’ faces; I’m going to have to start wearing my period undies for fun soon. Outside my old man lady dog has pulled random wet soggy socks off of the clothes line, and a pair of my sons’ shoes has been chewed up. I haven’t picked them up yet and I probably won’t for another week – the washing that’s on the line has been there for weeks as it is. I’ve walked past the same Duplo block, pencil and clean nappy in the hallway for a week now, and not once have I stopped to pick it up; we have become friends and I just pop them a nod, promising to return them to their rightful homes someday. My daughter has a poopy diaper and I won’t get up and change it till I’m done writing this. It smells REAL bad.
Did your child watch more than an hour of TV today? Well, most days my son watches TV from 7 till 10 – maybe 11 – and sometimes it’s 1 p.m. before I realized it’s even been on all day long and that his obsession with the Pirate Jake has become more like a meth addiction.
Do your children ask you to sit with them and play all day long? My daughter does – in fact, she asked me just now – but I’m drinking a coffee and being an asshat mother and writing this instead. I very rarely play with my children; I enjoy it about as much as getting out of bed every morning. Remember those days when you would entertain yourself for hours on end because your parents read the paper or watched TV or did adult things? Yeah, we did that … so can our kids.
Do your children hate dinner some/most days? Does the pressure of feeding your kids wholesome, preservative-free meals make you feel like a terrible mother? Last night they had white bread with butter and cake. White bread and cake. Oh, and a chocolate bar at their brother’s Bmx training at 7 p.m. What of it?
Do the pressures of having your child in a hundred and one after-school activities hurt your soul? My soul hurts, and my 10-year-old son only does one activity – and still, sometimes we tell him it was cancelled because we just don’t want to go. [Insert any appropriate parent excuse here: my bum hurts, I have my period, it’s cold or, my favorite, I don’t want to volunteer at the club tonight because I have intense social anxiety and cried like a loon in the car at the mere thought of helping out.]
Is your friend on Facebook doing crafts with her kid again? Don’t you worry; I’m not. Have you ever cleaned up that glitter and paint properly? It doesn’t happen here. Pencils and pens, pencils and pens kids, that’s your creativity limit unless I’m feeling incredibly happy and generous and the house is spotless – which would mean that I’m no longer me.
Do the pressures of having matching socks on all three of your kids seem a bit much? Right now, my daughter has one of my socks on and one of her brother’s. She’s two.
Do your children talk to you? Mine do. I just smile and wave, smile and wave.
Does it all become too much when your children are screaming in the shops and you have to decide how you’ll discipline them in front of that woman giving you intense stink eye? Smile and wave, guys. Smile and wave.
Do you really have to try to watch your language around your kids because they’re fucking parrots? The other day my daughter called our dog a Fuck Head. High-five me later.
The truth is, none of these things makes me a bad parent. What this means to me is that I’m comfortable with my parenting. I’m comfortable with the idea that sometimes these spawns of Satan will have to learn independence or something. That sometimes it’s OK to eat naughty foods, and that TV can be a useful tool if you are sad, depressed or just fed up, and also when you can’t deal with them that day. Hey, it’s better than yelling at them to shut those holes in their faces up, right?
The washing isn’t done because I’m doing other things with, and for, the kids. (Mainly though it’s because I’m sitting and drinking coffee and I just hate doing the washing with a real ‘I hate the washing’ passion.)
My kids swear sometimes, because sometimes people swear.
We are human. We are human first, and mother comes in a good second. We are still learning about this weird-ass role until the day we are dead. D-e-a-d.
We read our kids stories each night. We give them kisses. We treat them and laugh with them, we adore and cherish them. We give them all we can at our worst, and our best, and they will love us forever regardless of the amount of TV they watch or chocolate and white bread and cake they eat. Their love for us is not reliant on whether their socks matched for their entire childhood.
I, Antanika, the ever-growing and learning human, am not on hold because I am a mother. Neither are you. I continue to be a somewhat decent human even though I am a mother and a wife too. You cannot crush me, pretend invisible societal expectations.