Thursday, 9 August 2012
What you don't see
I don't very often talk about the bad days. Like Monday, when I spent my waking hours screeching like a banshee at my kids who refused to do anything I asked or be nice or stop pummelling each other. Matilda at the moment sometimes will just not listen. By the end of the day I wanted to cry. I had cried. And tv privileges had been revoked. This turned out to be a good thing. Sometimes I wonder what parents did before auld Logie Baird invented the ultimate nanny but this week I realised there is no need to feel I can't get a meal on the table unless my kids are plugged in to the demon gogglebox. They might grumble and complain for a couple of minutes, but then they hear a dinosaur upstairs and the adventure begins.*
Anyway, where was I going with this? Yes, I don't often talk about the bad days. They come, they go. It's a normal part of life.** Motherhood, or parenthood, is not separate from life, and the degree of joy and misery I experience as a mum fluctuates according to the rhythms of my everyday existence as a human being. I never feel guilty for having a bad day, for screeching at my kids. Sometimes they have bad days and they screech at me. We all screech sometimes, get grumpy, are just a bit horrid. It's not a nice feeling to lose self-control but it happens. I try to apologise afterwards and I talk to Matilda about it when I have the grumps, when I'm not very nice, when I do something wrong. In the same way that we talk about it when she is grumpy or not very nice or does something wrong. She knows (as does Owen in his way) that I am not perfect and I don't expect my kids to be.
If you're wondering where all this has come from, I've been reading a number of posts on the various blogs that I secretly lurk around about the ups and downs of motherhood. How seemingly people try to be perfect mothers, and feel they can't admit to finding it tough, except in blog posts, where it appears to be quite the done thing to self-flagellate for your crimes against your kids. I do understand the value of such honesty for blogkeepers with large followings, though I have to admit I don't know anyone who still tries to keep up the pretence that being a parent is anything other than a rickety old rollercoaster, lurching stomach-wrenchingly from exhilarating to petrifying. But as far as my own little blog is concerned, I don't have hundreds of followers, I have nine, most of whom know me extremely well. I don't feel that I have to give a warts and all version of my life. But, should there be the odd one or two secret lurkers out there, for the record, I am not the perfect mother, nor do I have the perfect life. I accept the good and the bad as a normal state of affairs and don't feel any responsibility, need or desire to linger on what is rotten in the state of the Motherhood of Bex. By making an issue of our "failures" surely we are giving them far more importance than they deserve.
I'd like to close, if I may be so pretentious, with some of my favourite words from the immortal Samuel Beckett, which I think should be applied to parenthood and all the other things that go to make up a life:
"Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
* We do actually have a dinosaur upstairs. It is blue.
** I am not talking about the overwhelming emotional turmoil of depression or mental illness, which requires sustained medical or psychological care, and not simply a philosophical disposition.