“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”
― Barbara Kingsolver
*Warning: Some Cheese-worthy sentences towards the end.
Tales of Single Motherhood.
Doubting my parenting, but remembering my daughter is wonderful and I take
most of the full credit.
“YOU NEVER BUY ANYTHING FOR ME!..YOU DON’T EVEN WANT ME ANYMORE!!”
I was already knelt on the ground fitting her sandals on, but at that point I just rested my head on the padded seat and let her continue. I could practically feel my metaphorical inner-light getting dimmer and dimmer. Physically this manifests as a giant lump in the throat.
It had been a long hour.
She’d done so well in Clark’s getting her trainers fitted. In Boots, when I said to put the toy back; she listened. But by the time we made it into the fourth, and final shop, she’d had enough. She’d found her giant unicorn hair bows and she wasn’t leaving the store without them. Having just bought her new trainers + sandals + all the rest, I was only in the “buy EXACTLY what we need and NOTHING ELSE” mood. 🚫
I repeated a few times to put the bows back. She refused. I explained calmly, though crying inside, that we didn’t need them right now and that Mummy would think about getting them either later in the week or another time. Again she clung onto them. You don’t try reasoning with a four year old, not at 5pm on a sizzling hot day. We queued up by the till and beginning to lose my shit, but determined to stay strong and stick to my original decision ( I’d come this far). I said very coolly, stone cold, highly unlike me; “I’m going to count to five and if you haven’t put them back where you found them we’re going to have a problem when we get out of this shop.” Yeh I know that sounds like a threat. I am awful. Not sure what “have a problem” meant exactly. I just really didn’t want the beeper things to go off or to have a continued battle of wills by the shop entrance.
Well it worked. I think I did my scary face. Not hard when you have no makeup on.
She turned around, walked towards the accessories section and began to weep. Big tears. So big, that an old lady of around eighty and her daughter stopped to see what was up, concerned, they looked over at me from afar “Oh she’s fine…” I said, 0% convinced.
She returned, the old lady and her daughter queued up behind us
“I think she really wanted that toy” she said..
“I know” I replied.
“But my mum buys her things all the time. One of us has to say no.”
The old lady’s daughter agreed. (So glad I got their opinions, that I did not ask for, I’m always yearning to know what strangers think of my parenting…).
We had a big cuddle. She continued to weep. Guilt began to seep through my veins/my entire being. Questioning, doubtful thoughts began to arise:
“Should I have just given in to spare all the drama and tears?
Was I too harsh?
What did that old lady think of me?
*Who the f cares what one old lady – a stranger- thought of me*
Oh but so many tears.
DOES SHE FEEL UNLOVED BECAUSE I SAID NO TO SOMETHING THAT WOULD HAVE BROUGHT HER TEMPORARY HAPPINESS?!
AM I JUST REALLY SHIT AT THIS?”
Then a quiet voice of reason stepped in:
“No dear woman the whole point was to teach her that the answer is sometimes NO and it’s not the end of the world. Toys will always be there. Sometimes it’s a yes and sometimes it’s a big fat horrible no.
NO is a useful word and a word she needs to learn how to use herself. (Already getting pretty good, no concerns there..) NO IS AN IMPORTANT WORD.”
We arrived home and had a cuddle and I said she’d done so well and I know it was hard. (She was sat with her strawberries, watching TV, knowing Grandma was arriving any minute so, happy happy).
Some of her words stuck in my head, I’m probably over-sensitive to my four year old’s comments, but mainly I was just grateful she’d stopped sobbing.
I’m not certain where “YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE ME” came from, that hurt a little, to think that my little girl thinks I don’t like her. I mean, there are moments when I really don’t like her attitude/behaviour/eating habits but generally I’m her biggest fan. I adore her personality. She genuinely makes me laugh often.
I’ve had confirmation from other Mothers that their children have said similar things to them. I know, like with other interactions with tired humans, not to take her words too literally. She may only be four, but she’s still able to communicate her thoughts and feelings effectively, and her blurting out she doesn’t think I like her, could actually mean that maybe sometimes I need to be a little more patient. Calm the f down. Slow the f down.
It seems with every conflict comes a recipe for guilt. Whichever way you look at it, Mum has done something wrong in some way. We can never win. It’s very draining.
Except I kind of feel like I am winning.
Not every moment, I’m f****** tired, but generally.
Because my daughter was able to tell me how she felt.
She let it all out.
She communicated effectively.
And I hope it’s always like this. I hope she always feels she can tell me when I’ve pissed her off. If I’ve upset her, I want to know about it, even if she’s crying the shop down. Cause a scene.
Anything’s better than a lack of communication.
So yes, it’s been a testing week/month, I doubt myself constantly, and I need to work on my patience, and calming the f down, perhaps through yoga, long walks and more frequent bubble baths. Or just a solid 10k. But I still think, on the whole, I’m a pretty decent parent.
I know this because I spend most days with my daughter. And she’s rather wonderful.
And sometimes I do look at her and just think:
“Yeh I did that.
I did that.
That little human, telling her Grandad he looks handsome in a suit.
I did that.
If acting doesn’t work out, if I’m alone till I’m 40 and I never write anything particularly special, well, I’ll be pretty pissed on numerous levels, BUT, I will always be a proud parent.
And that’s something.”
I did warn you about the cheese.
You chose to read this far anyway.
Good on you.