I was scrolling through my blog home page last night and suddenly had a panic. All the stories of jumping around in mud, family day trips, slowing down and embracing toddler pace, home-cooked healthy meals and kale smoothies. “Argh,” I thought to myself. “I am NOT presenting a real picture of parenthood here. This is NOT representative of most of my life.”
And so today, I want to redress the balance.
Yes, I have days when I think I’m doing okay at this parenting thing. For the most part, I adore spending my days with my children. But some days… a lot of days in fact… it’s hard. Relentlessly hard.
Yes, I might fire up the Nutribullet every morning and post a photo on Instagram. But what you don’t see in that snapshot is the state of my kitchen. My toddler deliberately throwing his cereal all over the floor and me not having time to deal with it before leaving for the school run, and then coming home to cereal welded onto the table but not having the time to properly clear it up because it’s time for lunch and my kids are starving and I know if they don’t eat soon all hell will break lose. You also don’t see the mountain of dishes on the work surface because I need to unload the dishwasher but can’t, because every time I try to, my toddler climbs into it and tries to pick up the plates and knives. That photo doesn’t show the pile of dirty dish cloths on the corner of the floor because the clean washing has been in the machine for two days because I haven’t had a second to take it out.
Yes, we might head out on day trips quite frequently and write about our adventures here on Cardiff Mummy Says. I love all of that stuff. But the truth is, sometimes it’s easier to be out of the house where my kids can run off some energy, rather than indoors with them climbing up the walls, arguing with each other, toys ending up all over the floor and tantrums when I ask them to tidy up.
Yes, I cook a lot of healthy home-made meals. I love cooking. But the photos don’t show that some days I’m close to losing it with my kids when they muck around at the table and refuse to eat what they’ve been given, saying they don’t like it when they usually wolf it down. And then there are the days when I simply don’t have the energy to cook, so it’s frozen pizza or beans on toast for tea.
Yes, I miss my children so much it hurts when they are at school and pre-school, but there are school run mornings when I get so fed up of repeatedly asking my eldest two children to put their shoes and coats on and them ignoring me when they know we are already running late, that I lose my temper, shout at them more loudly than is necessary – and then immediately hate myself for not taking a deep breath and keeping my cool. I’m a yoga teacher, for goodness sake!
I love being a parent, I really do. My children are the most amazing, beautiful, inspiring beings I know. They have taught me so much and brought me so much joy, more than I ever thought possible. I feel so lucky to have the three of them in my life. But some days are so hard, so testing and so draining that I am willing Cardiff Daddy to get home from work so he can take over, and I can sit in absolute sheer silence and close my eyes for a moment. Or just check Facebook and have some contact with other grown-ups and think about non-kid stuff. There are days when I am so tired and so drained, if my kids have been waking me up at night.
I struggle to keep on top of the housework. I find myself crying about having a bad day, even though nothing bad has happened. I wonder if Cardiff Daddy and I have screwed up our kids if we’ve argued in front of them. I’ve written about all of this before on my blog…. but not for a while.
So I just want to say it again. Having days when it all feels relentless and overwhelming doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you normal. Being a parent can be as hard as it is amazing. We don’t always talk about the crap stuff though, do we? And we should so that we all feel a little bit better and less alone on our bad days.