Bye bye house with the crazy pink carpet!
The other day I was buying one of Smalls’s birthday presents, and I couldn’t resist getting myself a little something too. This These are the Golden Days print sums up pretty much exactly how I feel about parenting my two- and three-year-old right now.
They are hilarious. And totally adorable. One serious, verbose, sensitive, kind, and completely incapable of having the wool pulled over her eyes. She is sharp as a tack, that one. Doesn’t miss a thing. Is an interesting conversation partner, and has just started drawing circle people with sticks for arms and legs.
The other is a big-toothed grinning menace, who never says the first half of her words, who sits on the toilet fully clothed but makes the “pssh” noise like she’s actually doing something, mangles “sandwich” like you wouldn’t believe, and randomly hugs me and strokes my hair. She puts her hand under my chin and says “orright?” and then toddles off on her tiny legs.
Neither of them can pour their own cereal or make their own sandwiches, so we’re nowhere near out of the Intensive Parenting Woods (I hear that’s where the Big Bad Wolf lives), but it’s also not the 24-hour-a-day onslaught that is a newborn (or toddler and a newborn, heaven help me).
Next year is Kinder, and the year after that is SCHOOL OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP and I’m right in that spot where I could freeze time and hang out here forever, making playdough and baking cakes and buying tiny shorts. These guys are fun and interesting, and while still totally toddler-irrational from time to time (not to mention the picky food issues), they are a joy to parent.
Remind me of this when someone’s stolen the other one’s eyeliner and someone is out past curfew with their phone turned off.
I had tried to order cupcakes from a friend who is much better at decorating them than I am, but she had to pull out at the last minute, which meant my earnest but skill-less efforts were all that I could provide on the day. Knowing full well nobody would give a shit if they were ugly (as long as they tasted good) and as long as there was plenty of good food, sunshine, happy people, and a jumping castle everyone would have a good time, I put down my first attempt at a garden cupcake with a grimace, but also a shrug.
It totally sums up my whole approach to parenting, though: Try hard, do your best, do it with love, and when it falls short of your high ideals but is still enough, then take the piss out of yourself.
Then go have a beer or something. Enjoy that sunshine.
My parenting motto coming soon to a pinnable Pinterest image near you.
A little while ago, Rachel from A Mother Far From Home emailed me and asked me some curly questions about my parenting. She was going to compile them so her readers could feel a little reassured that we’re all just trying to do our best, and that nobody is perfect.
I’m so imperfect I couldn’t even get my reply email back to her on time! I started answering her questions, then I got distracted, and before you know it, I hadn’t done my bit. Eep.
So in the interests of having a bit of a chat about parenting honestly, here are my answers. You can read everyone else’s here. I LOVE that picture of Rachel and her kids. That’s basically how I feel every day.
1. What part of motherhood and parenting do you feel really good at?
Nurturing, communicating effectively, being spontaneous, being fun, being present (most of the time) and not freaking out. Especially when they cover my house in 5 kilos of flour.
2. Where do you feel that you fall short?
I’m not very patient when I haven’t slept well (or am hungry, whoa), self restraint when frustrated, keeping the floor clean. I also suck at the work-at-home mother balance occasionally. Both ways – either working when I shouldn’t, nor not working when I should.
3. How do you overcome the plague that is mother guilt?
The only thing I feel guilty about is when I lose my temper, or something similar, and so I try to cut myself some slack. Two toddlers would drive anyone to breaking point eventually! I just apologise, make amends and move on. I don’t feel guilty about taking time out for me, or for working, or anything of that nature. I am an attentive, caring, nurturing mother who occasionally goes out without her kids and works from home two days a week.
4. On your deathbed, what do you want to be able to say you taught your kids?
To feel the fear and do it anyway while living and letting live. And how to make an excellent cup of tea.
What would your answers to these questions be?
I have a kid who is obsessed with drawing. She will draw anywhere, at any time. If the house is quiet and I’m not sure where she’s gone? She’s at this table, drawing.
Or she’s drawing on the bathroom floor. Or the hallway walls. Or the kitchen table, her bed, the carpet, herself, the closet in my bedroom, and all of her dolls and teddies.
She will fill an entire scrapbook in two drawing sessions. Tight little scribbles, endless circles, every colour under the sun.
I have always said I hope my children are creative. I feel as though academics and sport and music and all the other things kids like to do and excel at, they can be taught. I think creativity can be nurtured, but is mostly innate. I hope she dyes her hair green and lives on an art farm in France and never shaves her armpits and sleeps with her favourite paintbrushes under her pillow.
Every single time I think about her drawing, I end up singing this song. So, that’s a lot. But I’ve had this album on repeat for months, anyway. Picasso, baby!
No sympathy for the King, huh?
When I worked in vacation care, the parents (mostly mums) would come and drop their kiddos to us and I’d ask the little ones what they’d like to do that day. Painting? Colouring? Play dough, musical statues, popsicle stick craft, you name it, we could do it. It sounded like a hell of a lot of fun (and it was) and sometimes I felt a little sorry for the wistful mums who looked like they wanted to stay and play rather than go to work. I definitely felt sometimes I got the better deal that day, and I threw myself into making the holidays a magical time for those kids.
Nowadays when my husband kisses us goodbye and goes to work, I sometimes feel the same way that I did when I worked with other children. Often I’m snuggled up in bed with two tousle-haired poppets, ready to take the morning easy before maybe heading to the park, or playing play dough, or whatever else it is we’re going to do that day. And I feel grateful that I can share this special time with my babies before they go off to school and maybe I’m the mum dropping them off at vacation care.
Sure, I still have to scrub the toilet and referee fights and clean up spilled glitter and deal with a LOT of human poo every single day, so it’s not all fun and games. But being a stay-at-home mum with maybe a little flexible paid gig on the side was something I wanted very much, and worked very hard to achieve. And while my husband would swap me in a heartbeat, I’m not so sure I’d be willing to give it up! (Although he works as a high school teacher, so he gets plenty of holiday time to hang with us and occasionally think it would be an easier day at work than two full-on, mobile, loud, messy toddlers allllllllll day, lord knows I’ve thought that!). So I’m grateful I get this time. I’m grateful I’m a mum. I’m grateful I have a job that I love that I can do around my family, from home. I’m grateful to soak in these moments.
I could do without the poo, though.