Ever feel like your best just isn't good enough?! That feeling is so familiar to me it's like an old friend popping over for a coffee and a catch up! It's morphed from the normal teenage/young person insecurities about not being pretty enough/clever enough/funny enough to this ugly big fat fear about not being good enough at all. What's the difference I hear you ask? Well the difference to me is that before I became a mummy the insecurities I had about my appearance, my abilities and my relationships were just that-insecurities. The sort of things I would think about briefly before I went to bed, or while I got ready for a night out or important meeting at work. With insecurities although they visit frequently, they disappear quickly afterwards too-a bit like an old relative who drops by un-announced but doesn't stay long. So if I held my breath long enough, the insecurities would 'poof' in to thin air and vanish as quickly as they arrived. Nothing out of the ordinary there. However now I'm a mummy that insecurity seems to have grown, along with the baby I carried in to a gigantic elephant in the room who often lurks around mental corners, waiting to pounce on me *shudders*.
My mum actually came up with the saying "Work harder Mummy" when my brother was younger. He was a terrible baby and a worse toddler and ran my poor mum ragged. He would cry constantly, never entertain himself, scream at the sight of a pushchair let alone a shop or supermarket and frequently get in to mischeif that left tomato ketchup smeared down the walls and toilets overflowing after having goodness knows what stuffed down them. My brother's childhood is the reason my parents didn't have any more children after him! So the saying came when my brother just wouldn't let anything my mum did be enough for him! No amount of playing with lovely toys, no amount of delicious food, day trips out or getting his own way was ever even remotely good enough for him! It would start with the crying then as my mum tried to comfort him or distract him the look would turn in to a facial that read "Come on Mummy, Try harder than that...(to keep me entertained etc)" when we talk about it now it's hilarious! At the time though my brother resembled a lunatic child and I know it drove my poor mum to the brink of Parenting Despair! So that is where the saying in our family comes from.
Recently I've felt a bit like that quote is an arrow, getting shot at me from all sorts of directions. Joshua has been perfecting his tantrum talents but he's now working it out like a fine art. In all fairness to the Munchkin, he has been poorly and had us worried last week but his personality has begun to resemble that of another child, a child I don't recognise! A child that surely can't be mine! I try to do the 'good parent' thing in these circumstances, you know-firm talking to's, standing my ground and not backing down. But I often feel like this tiny human being, who's height doesn't even reach my thigh is often winning, getting the better of me and I usually feel like it's easier to cave in, give him what he wants just to shut him up! Epic Mummy Failure.
Nothing more sums this up that last week (prior to poorley-gate) when we went out shopping. Joshua loves to be independant and wants to walk when we go out, however his stubborn streak (haven't got a clue where he got that from!) means he refuses to hold hands when out of his pushchair so-he isn't allowed out of the pushchair for long periods or he's off-desperate to escape (probably in search of new, better parents!). So we decided that as much as I despise harnesses, it was time to get one-Josh could walk and feel like he was being a big boy without having to hold hands, and yet he was only a material strap away from me at all times. Seemed win/win. However when I got the thing on him what did he do? Sat down in the middle of the shopping centre and refused to move. Then when he finally did move he bolted for the cookie stand and tried to mount the display unit, screaming as he went while I diplomatically tried to say "No, Joshua, not today" in my best authoratitive parenting voice. Next thing he's screaming an ear piercing scream at the top of his lungs, crying and causing a right old scene making everyone stare at us and me pulling on his 'lead' as if pulling a dog away who's trying to dry hump another dog on his afternoon walkies! All the while trying not to sit on the floor, stamp my own feet and have a tantrum of my own right back at my son. Oh yes, it was very much a case of "Work Harder Mummy"!
So being in a constant battle of wills with a child whose only vocabulary consists of "Cack" (aka Cat), "Gone" and "Oh Dear" makes me feel rather fearful that my parenting skills need a bit of fine tuning. After all how can a child who knows only four words have me quaking in my Ugg boots? The baby stages weren't easy but they were mostly predictable! Sleep, Poop, Feed, Play and repeat was about it for the first year or so. Now my son is a child, not a baby I feel I'm in unchartered waters, with waves labelled " Work Harder Mummy" washing over me at every decesion, and every possible occassion! All the while they splash me in the face leaving a stinging sensation that I'm not good enough at this parenting malarcky because I honestly feel like my son is always winning (and mentally making a tally of one/two/three to him and nil to Mummy!).
I try my hardest, Lord knows I do! Sometimes it's good enough and if I'm honest, sometimes it's not but I think (ok, I hope and pray) that it's enough that I try my hardest, even if I don't always get it right! I do wonder though how I can ever gain any confidence, (and some winning strikes in this battle of wills: Toddler vs Mummy) in my abilities as a parent when my son literally knows how to outsmart me. After all, all he needs to do is drive me barmy enough and I will cave in, give him as much juice as he wants, stick Mickey Mouse on the tv and give him a constant supply of raisens and breadsticks while I become a gibbering wreck, who can't escape the call of the bottle of wine awaiting me in the fridge, chilled and ready to drink the second my sons head hits the pillow! All the while that gentle breeze of "Work Harder Mummy, Do Better Mummy" is ringing in my ears and turning in to a full on hurricane that can't be ignored.
Sod it. I will "Work Harder Mummy" tomorrow!
Love Chloe xx