Good day, good parent?

I worry a lot that I’m not very good at being a parent. 

I work outside the home because financially I have to, as many mothers do. I also enjoy my job, and wonder sometimes if it’s easy to hide behind the financial obligation – how would I really feel if suddenly it was possible to pay the mortgage with just one income?

I think I would be thrilled and petrified in equal measure.

When I’m off on Fridays, I have many, many moments that end with a silent “why?”

Why is it so hard? 
Why do they squabble so much? 
Why, in spite of being certain that today I would not get cross, did I end up shouting?
Why am I taking time off work – unpaid time off – to shout at my children? 

And I worry that I’m just not cut out for being a stay at home mum. Not a nice feeling. 

But for every “why?” moment, there are many happy, smiley, funny and fun moments. 
And for every disastrous day there are many good days, where it just all flows.

Today was like that – we had a perfect day. 
Obviously, as there were three small children involved, by perfect I just mean that there were more good bits than bad. 

The toddler hitting a little girl not once but twice wasn’t a great moment. 
None of the kids ate their dinner (“thank you for making a dinner mum but it’s too yuck” – at least they were polite). 
And I didn’t make it through the day without threatening to cancel an upcoming birthday party (such a pointless and ineffective parenting tool and yet I still do it)  

But there were lots of good bits:

Nobody had an argument before, during or about breakfast. 

Emmie spilt milk all over the table and the floor but I didn’t get cross.

Sam’s nap was only ten minutes but he was still in great, happy, giggly form for the day (notwithstanding hitting incident)

The kids had three helpings of lunch each (it was beans and potatoes, so nutritionally questionable but still)

The girls made a rocket-turned-sailboat out of a giant cardboard box – it took about four hours to make, they were completely caught up in it and best of all, they didn’t need any help from me. I can take absolutely no credit for it, but the fact that they made it made me feel like a good mother. 

Rocket that became a sailboat

We nearly went to the library – the girls wanted to see their local library which has been recently refurbished, but half way there the rain stopped and the sun came out so we deviated to the park instead. But if we had gone, I’m sure it would have been good. And a good parent thing to do.

So instead we went for coffee, sitting in the sun in the gorgeous little Japanese garden in Cabinteely Park and the kids told me I was the best mum ever for getting them ice-cream. I totally know that doesn’t make me a good mother, but still.

Afterwards they ran around the park, looking for secret doors in the trees which might indicate that fairies and pixies live in them (The Faraway Tree is their current bedtime story). 
It felt very freeing to let them run without worrying about traffic, shops, getting lost, being hit by a swing, being kidnapped or hitting other small children. 

At the end of today, I had that “I could do this full-time” feeling for the first time in a while (which no doubt means I’m now in a false sense of security and next Friday will be a disaster) 

I read this week that anger erupts when something doesn’t go as planned, and I had that in mind today – watching out for warning signs, scanning for anything that might not go according to expectations, so that I could preempt it with a calm(ish) reaction. And I think it worked, at least a little.

I’d like to think that if I was doing this all the time, being a stay-at-home-mum, we’d find a routine. 
I’d be better equipped to see what’s coming and to deal with deviations from the plan. And therefore avoid the red-rag moments and angry outbursts. 

Or maybe today was just one of those great days that come around every now and then. 
Perhaps I shouldn’t overthink it.

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16 thoughts on “Good day, good parent?”

  1. It sounds like a legitimately great day, and you should bask in it. And the rocket boat is wonderful!

    I think, from the at-home-fulltime perspective, there’s less pressure to feel like you’re having a good day, or doing fun things with the day, so you don’t keep count so much. One day just runs into the next and you can’t really remember whether you were shouting this morning or yesterday or last week or probably all of the above, but that’s life. (I think when they were younger a good day was a day when naps happened as they should have. That was totally the deciding factor.)

    1. That makes sense, and a lot of the self-induced pressure to have a “good day” is linked to guilt about not being there every day. So that would be gone if I was there every day. Maud I cannot imagine you shouting at your kids,please tell me you do occasionally!

    2. Oh, I certainly do shout. Though I’ve recently realised that apparently I have no projection and nobody ever hears me. So mostly I just mutter in a defeated manner and pretend it’s a strategy.

  2. You are overthinking it but I think that makes you a good parent! I like what you read about anger, it is definitely something to keep in mind. I also read Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway recently and I have found the mantra from it of “I can handle this” to be really helpful. I think you did incredibly well and, from someone who does it full-time, that was a perfect day. I love the rocket boat, I must gather a few cardboard boxes again, I did that a couple of months ago and it was all-consuming for my two, thanks for the reminder!

    1. I think “feel the fear and do it anyway” a lot these days though I haven’t read it, must add it to the list. Yes I’m going to keep the anger mantra in mind, it definitely helped me yesterday. As did the ginormous cardboard box!

  3. Sounds like a great day to me too . Kids are gorgeous. Ive stopped feeling guilty about working. I think my kids are really lucky to have a mum who has great flexibility .

    1. Nice to hear from you!
      That’s a good way to look at it, and I am able to think like that at least some of the time too – I have pretty good flexibility at the moment. I would love to not have any guilt, such a wasted emotion

  4. Great post, I loved reading and thinking “it’s not just me”. I had a nightmare day on Thursday with toddler tantrums, puddles of wee, 4 year old running riot in the shops and general mayhem I was ready to end my maternity leave that evening, and then yesterday the boys were really good, we had fun and laughs and I brought them out to the park beside our house to run races, babygirl asleep in the buggy. I think Mum’s tiredness comes in to it a lot, and the pressure to have happy days and happy memories.
    I love that you threatened to cancel the birthday party, I made the exact same threat on Thursday. People need to share the bad stuff too, there are always rows here at breakfast time, usually because someone took the spoon that the other person really wanted.
    Yes, you’re overthinking, we all do, it’s part of the mammyguilt conspiracy. Down with the mammyguilt.

    1. And that’s just it – when I have a terrible day, I feel like that’s how it always is, and then I have a great day and think that’s how it always is – I have zero perspective.
      And what is it with the spoons – my two girls are both obsessed with yellow at the moment. We have those coloured Ikea spoons, bowls etc so there are six colours but they both want yellow…

  5. What a great day!! And I beg to differ, buying ice-cream for your kids does so make you the best mother in the world. Ever! I know coz my kids tell me that all the time.

  6. Sounds like a lovely, normal, stay at home day with the kids. You had plans, but you were ok to deviate, and they were happy. Win win!
    I’ve often struggled with the fact that I have to work, and still do from time to time. I worked half time as long as we could afford it, sometimes I loved it, sometimes I wanted nothing more than the excuse of working full time so I could escape them! It’s all part of the rollercoaster, isn’t it? We make what we can of it, and hope for the best. Keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

    1. thanks Fiona, I especially like “keep doing what you’re doing” – a lovely thing to hear and something to keep in mind on the tricky days!

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