I’m writing this, not to poke fun at my kids, and not to try and make this Mum business sound horrible. I’ve just realized so much since being a Mum, that there are many little boxes that people try and put children in, and label them this or that or something in between. I’ve noticed the pressure on parents, and children too, to be perfect, know everything and follow the advice that those ‘more experienced’ give you because ‘it worked for their kids, it has to work for yours too.’ I hate the judgement placed on parents and children by others – especially when your child misbehaves or does something out of line. So here’s why I’m writing this. My boy is beautiful. He also has many many moments of horrible behaviour but so does every other kid that has ever entered the world. I think it’s easy to forget that they are little people, growing and learning at times when all they seem to do is be naughty and awful. It also feels A LOT like your kid is the only one in the universe who has ever screamed all the way through the grocery store while you drag him on his bum…so here’s the good news and quite frankly my point, your child is not the only one who is naughty 80% of most days. So despite what old Aunt Ethelbert from two doors down (who probably hears your kid’s screaming tantrums every day) says, or what cranky pants man from the camping shop says: YOU are doing a great job.
Here are a couple of stories, dear parenting friends, to help you know, you are not alone. I also want to remind you that even though the sometimes ‘dark’ days of toddlers and wild little people may leave you feeling frazzled, incompetent and exhausted, these growing boys and girls are simply learning who they are, what boundaries are, and you’re job to help develop them is an important and beautiful one. Not to put pressure on you, but to remind you that these times are precious. So read on, laugh at my horrors and mistakes, and of the adventures my little ones take me on, and then tell me your stories! I should probably point out too, that this will be about my son…while I’m sure my girl will do things I don’t want to think of right now, she’s not there yet! I will never forget the day my boy was born. He was gorgeous – dark, mysterious eyes, dark, brown hair, tiny little hands and long feet, all accompanied by this high pitched squeak that came out of his mouth every time he was sad, upset or hungry – he was perfectly innocent and purely delightful. I remember the most specific moment during his first night out in the big wide world, (also known as his plastic little crib in the hospital). He wouldn’t settle down and the only way he was happy was curled up on my tummy, tucked up in my arms – there he slept like a trooper. He woke again after a couple of hours and I picked him up off my tummy just so I could look at him and take in every detail of his perfect little face…I didn’t expect him to stare back at me, but he did. Not just an empty look, but this piercing stare where his dark eyes locked with mine and I couldn’t pull myself away. It was like he was staring right into the pit of who I was and nutting me out….’so, YOU’RE my Mum?’ It was almost eery but at the same time such a perfect moment that’s hard to explain. Here is where it started. I’d look at his sweet baby face and hold his tiny body, and imagine his life and how marvelous he was going to be…and wait for it….I’d think about how this handsome baby boy couldn’t possibly have it in him to be naughty. I knew I was wrong, I knew it would happen, but I couldn’t possibly imagine it.
Turns out we didn’t have to wait too long. This little boy grew into the cheekiest, most mischievous of boys I’ve ever known. If it had layers, he’d climb it, if it moved he’d chase it, somehow he knew how to challenge everything you’d say and he had one speed – running – usually in the opposite direction of whoever was calling him. If we were outside and he went missing, we would almost always find him on top of a tractor, on top of the header or up a ladder.
On our first trip to the shops together without him in the pram, he screamed almost the whole time and I dragged him almost the whole way, all because he didn’t want to hold my hand and walk…he wanted to run. Then there was that time we were out at a restaurant eating dinner, everyone sitting around the table being fairly normal, and then I look up from my plate to see my son standing over a pot plant in the restaurant, weeing in it. I still don’t know if it was a fake plant or a real plant, but it got a watering either way. That wasn’t long after he had already stripped his pants off for no reason at all other than he must have just wanted to be nude while we were standing in line to order our food. Unfortunately, we always seem to find his pants first and then the mission is to find him. This time we caught him trying to climb onto one of the restaurant chairs next to the line. Or the time I took him to a shopping store with me to help pick out some presents for some children. It went quite well until I looked away for a few moments before looking back up to see all that was left at the spot where my son WAS standing, was his shoes, undies and pants in a pile of wee. I only had to follow the muddy footprints to find him across the other side of the shop, frolicking around shelves of clothes and pretty smelling candles, butt naked, free, and having a great time. Turns out it was the one time I’d forgot to put spare pants in the car so our trip was cut short, I marched him to the car, and all I heard all the way home was ‘Mum, it tickles, it tickles’. I didn’t want to look, he had no pants on and his seat belt was clearly too close to things. Then there was that time he did a dump in the backyard of our church grounds without warning, or can you imagine my horror, that time he was sitting next to me on the lounge quietly before randomly announcing ‘Mum, I want to touch some boobies’. (I STILL don’t know where he got that from!!) He’s had his turn of painting with poo in his bedroom, carrying his little sister around by her neck, throwing toys into the toilet bowl, drawing on the walls and lounges and bedspreads, and stuffing food up his nose. I used to be terrified of taking him anywhere because I’d usually have to drag him around, literally kicking and screaming. Now I’m terrified of taking him places because he talks to everyone, tells them our life story, and seemingly pees on everything. I could go on, but that’s enough for this blog!
After being reminded of some of those horrifying moments, I can’t help but look at him, even as I write this, and remember every moment he comes and lays a kiss on my cheek, or glances over and says ‘I love you Mum’. I can’t help but remember the moments he throws his arms around my neck and hugs me tight, or sees my crying and tells me ‘it’s going to be alright Mum’. I can’t help but look at those same big brown eyes that locked with mine the night after he was born, surrounded by the longest and most gorgeous lashes I’ve ever seen, and remember the moment he came into our lives and blessed us just by being him. A beautiful treasure and an adventurous boy full of life and love, who is simply learning and growing and developing into a boy, a bigger boy, a big boy, and one day a man who will have been shaped and moulded by this – these moments here and now. These moments that feel so hard at times, these moments that horrify us, these moments that make your heart skip a beat, and these moments that we will look back on, laugh at, and treasure forever.