I tiptoed out of the room, down the corridor to the kitchen, put the kettle on and sat down at the kitchen table overlooking the beautiful courtyard. I heard the peaceful sounds of the birds as they woke up and flitted about. The gentle rustling of the leaves was music to my ears as they danced softly to the ground. The flowers were in full bloom. What a beautiful morning, I thought as I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down again to relish this serene moment…
“Mummy!” – and gone. For the rest of the day I barely heard the door bell ring as I kicked into mom mode and my thoughts accelerated to my mile long to-do list of which I had managed to tick nothing off but instead add on ten more the day before.
“Have you gone to the bathroom? Have you brushed your teeth? Have you washed your face? No those fit perfectly fine, ¾ length is an actual style. Your feet won’t melt just because your pants are a quarter inch short! You have a cupboard full of clothes and you really can’t wear anything else other than the one dress in the wash? Are you sure, there isn’t anything else in the mass pile of clothing which is now on my bed that won’t match that hairband on your head?”
That’s me for the next five minutes as I try to figure out where I go wrong every morning and how we always end up having the same conversation and the same meltdown.
Of course they aren’t all trying moments during the day. Parenting in the 21st century had its own challenges but this pandemic has definitely thrown some extra curve balls! On the plus side, it has meant that we have a lot of quality time to spend together Molly and I. I remember being so excited because as a working mom the thought of finally being able to work from home meant I could balance both right? I could make up for all the “lost time”, be super mom and shower her with my wonderful presence and we would hold hands, sing songs and do everything together and absolutely love each moment of it, right? WRONG!
I was rather naïve to think that I would do and be all those things. I didn’t realise my new “normal” would mean I now need to think, process, compute in real time with an incessant barrage of questions, whines or complaints.
I fished out all the ‘how to be an amazing mom’, ‘how to discipline your child without yelling’, how to ensure your child does what you want them to do’ articles I could find on the internet. Armed with my top tips and coping strategies I entered every day with a new mantra. “You got this Polly! You are super mom!”
Problem was I ended every day crawling into bed wondering if I need to sell myself and get a new model.
What was I doing wrong?
I followed all the tips. For example, I knelt down to her level and explained politely for the 214th time that chocolate was not an appropriate breakfast alternative because I’d rather she lived a healthy, happy life. Somehow that resulted in a full-blown tantrum and we ended up not speaking to each other for a grand total of 5minutes (after that the whining started again so I had to consider that as the resumption of “conversation”). I then locked myself in the bathroom and proceeded to count to ten. I took a deep breath and came out to try again, but found myself locked in the bathroom ten minutes later staring at the shower cubicle, a part of me too afraid to open the door again.
Again, what was I doing wrong?
I think I forgot that we are and have been in a pandemic situation for 9 months now. This isn’t a regular year. This is a year where we probably need to rewrite a few new rules and manuals on established practice
You know what helped?
Having chocolate for breakfast, soothing those tears. Then asking, “did you enjoy that Molly?”
“Actually, no mummy. I feel really ill. My tummy hurts.”
I roll my eyes and bite my tongue which is itching to say ‘I told you so’.
Instead I ask, “do you need me to rub it a bit? Maybe it will make you feel better.”
“Thanks Mummy,” and as she lays her head on my lap and I rub her tummy for purely “cosmetic” reasons, I hear the magic words. “I’m sorry Mummy. I never want chocolate for breakfast ever again.”
I smile and add a point under my name to my mental scoring board. Not that I am keeping score, I am definitely not in the lead this week!
“Mummy,” Molly asks. “When can I see Mia again? I miss her and all my friends.”
My heart melts because even though I am the loser on the score board, I probably have better coping strategies to deal with this new “normal” as an adult. But Molly, only knows what I tell her. I realise I haven’t spoken to her about how she feels and what she misses. I haven’t asked her about what we can do to incorporate her friends into her day. “Shall we make a card for Mia?” I ask as I have a light bulb moment.
“There’s no point Mummy, I can’t give it to her.”
“Well, that’s true, but until then I can take a picture and send it to her mummy?”
Molly sits up and smiles at me. It is like I have solved a very complex mathematical problem. It is evident in the admiration in her eyes. I look down sheepishly because I am kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner.
“Where are you going?” I ask as she races off.
“To make Mia’s card!” Molly says and I am pretty sure I saw her roll her eyes…
To be continued