“What kind of Mummy are you anyway?!”
“A good one I’d like to think!!”
This exchange occurred only a few weeks ago.
I think it came as a result of the word “NO” leaving my mouth in response to one of her many requests.
We humans don’t tend to like the word no.
Tired five-year-olds like it even less.
Feisty, stubborn and quick-witted five-year-olds do not take “No”.
“No” is not an option.
And they’re very good at informing us of this. They’re able to conjure up some carefully selected combination of words just harsh enough to actually sting, like my daughter’s did.
Her vocabulary may be limited, for now, but she’s using what she’s got and packing a punch. I felt genuinely hurt; she’d hit a sensitive spot and it wasn’t the first time.
“You don’t even like me anymore!”
“You’re always too busy for me!”
“You never play with me!”
Strong words, but there’s more than an element of truth there.
The reality is since starting a new job, I don’t spend as much time playing and being silly with her, and it sucks.
I’ve always seen guilt as a wasted emotion but there are times I know I need to slow down, listen to her temper tantrums and honour her feelings. Because I feel it too.
Thankfully, I am regularly reminded by my Mummy friends that none of us are perfect.
We are all, as parents and humans in general, very, very imperfect.
Most of us aren’t able to spend as much quality time with our kids as we wish we could.
And none of us really know what we are doing.
We’re all just big kids learning as we go, trying not to let our own tempers flare as our children’s do.
I say this, but quite often it’s the children who know exactly what they’re doing. They play to our weaknesses and know our soft spots. Fine little actors when they need to be.
I still fall for her performances at times, but I now refuse to go down the rabbit hole of Mummy guilt.
I do my best, and try and keep my cool in the heat of the moment. (That moment being me not giving Maia my full attention because I am pre-occupied with some basic human function like getting changed or having a wee.)
We can only do our best.
As imperfect, well-meaning, tired souls, our best is good enough.