I used to think I was a good mum. But then I had a second child, and was so busy focusing on keeping us all alive that I stopped thinking about being a good mother. But recently, as I seem to have gotten the knack of parenting two children, my thoughts have turned to parenting. My youngest is now three and a half and he is better able to communicate his needs and to engage in conversation. At home, things are mostly okay. The problems arise when we leave the house.
Yesterday I took Dubz out for a rare treat after his speech and language therapy appointment – a chocolate biscuit and juice at a cafe in our local Tesco Extra. After scoffing the biscuit in two minutes, he wanted to run around the cafe, then he begged for more biscuits and then he ran off to look at Star Wars clothing. I manged half my tea before giving up. It is easier just staying home.
Dubz argues about wearing socks, which shoes to wear and how many toys to take into the car. Once in the car, he argues about where he is sitting and whether he can put on his car seatbelt on. Then there are the arguments about where we are, what we are doing and whether he can have a chocolate muffin. I am okay until about noon. Then my patience is all gone. And by the time we pick up Moozles from school at 3.30pm, I am on the edge. Ready to erupt.
And erupt I do. Every afternoon I start shouting at my children. Yes, they’re annoying. But I don’t actually think they can help it (most of the time anyway). But I tell myself, ‘don’t worry, you’re not a bad mum, you’re okay’. But is it acceptable being an ‘okay mum’? Should I not be striving to be the best mum I can be? I’m not talking about being perfect. Just being better than okay.
But I’ve decided that okay is the best I can be right now. Beating myself up will not make me a better mother. I let my children know that they are loved. I kiss and cuddle them. I take care of their needs, I clothe and feed them, read to them everyday. I do not lock them in the cupboard under the stairs. Okay, this latter point is basic human dignity, but sometimes you need an extra win. Sometimes I shout. But that doesn’t make me a bad mother. So, I’m not the best, most patient mother. But I’m the most okayest mum I can be.