Everyone told me that having kids was hard work. My own mother said that I would never understand the sacrifices that she made for me until I had children of my own. At the time I listened, nodded and understood. Or did I?
I don’t think anyone has any real idea of what being a parent is like until you actually are one. You have all sorts of scenarios about the type of mother that you are going to be, the things that you will do and the family life that you will have. You secretly judge other parents and decide either that you will never do it that way or you gather little tips and store them up as good ideas for the future. You start off with the greatest of intentions but somehow things just never turn out quite the way you planned. What you forget is that your plans are all based actually on you, not really on what your children want. There’s a difference after all between what you think is right for them and what they actually want to do.
Take this week for example. Its been a while since we as a family had a holiday and we had planned to go and visit my cousin and her family in Germany. I was quite excited. I used to live in Germany and I was looking forward to it; visiting bierkellers, doing some sightseeing, watching the children play in the park, some chill out catch-up time with my family. Ah well no. First it was freezing so not much time for outdoor activities especially for small children. All very well us running around and having snow flights but toddlers get very tired and very cold very quickly. Secondly children just don’t do sightseeing and after a while, I felt guilty dragging them around Munich when clearly they were tired. Finally, to cap it all off, we all got a stomach bug. The flight home was a disaster. Irritable, tired, sick and desperate to get home we made a very poor example of a happy family. It didn’t then help that both my children decided to spend the next two days fighting, screaming and generally trying their best to shred what little patience I had left. I admit it, I snapped and screamed at them. They ended up in their rooms for time out and I sulked back to my office to cry and hide.
It wasn’t their fault. I was stressed, tired and disappointed that my scenario hadn’t worked out. They didn’t want to do all the things that I thought would be good for them. After all young children are hardly going to be interested in the sights of Munich. I can hardly expect them to sit politely for hours in a restaurant whilst us adults catch up on exciting things such as family gossip or the latest developments in smart phones! What they want is to play. What they really want is to play with me.
So finally yesterday I called it quits. I stopped making up scenarios and trying too hard. I sat on the sofa with my children and watched Mary Poppins and afterwards we all pretended to jump into pavement chalk pictures and ride around on merry go round horses. My 3 year old even learnt to say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Its the best thing that we have done all week and they were happy.
I may not be quite the mum that I thought I would be but I am learning a little more each day, week, month that I am one. This week I learnt not to try so hard and to stop making up scenarios. It doesn’t work for me and it definitely doesn’t work for them. So I’ll have to sacrifice a bit of sightseeing for the time being and maybe short trips to Europe are not such a smart idea for now. There’s plenty of other things we can do together. Mary Poppins was just that spoon full of sugar that made that medicine go down.