Parenthood. The name has so many meanings – and means something different for each and every one of us. It is a difficult, rewarding and an amazing experience, often all at the same time. Life however is not unfulfilling if you do not have kids. But I hate that some people think that it is; or that we are judged on the fact of childbearing/childrearing/childless as being a descriptor for us.
school holidays – love them or hate them, in Queensland we are half way through the first lot of holidays for the year. While they offer a brief respite from the madness that is the morning rush, the change of routine and forced time together usually spells fighting, bickering, arguing, and frustration.
This set of holidays has seen all manner of arguments. Ranging from seemingly insignificant to life or death matters concerning minecraft, Lego or my little pony. Matters so dire that tears, tantrums and punching is invoked. And let me tell you, it’s downright tiring.
Remember the childhood memories like getting mail that was actually addressed to you? Licking the beaters from baking? Reading for hours, without having to account for your time? I do. My FAVOURITE bits of being a kid. A time, in retrospect, where you are not really responsible for anything except your own hygiene and a few chores. No real jobs. No real pressing issues.
Well, I have four tiny humans who I am trying to ensure grow up with some ‘cool’ kid memories and an imagination. Easier said than done with the addition of touch just about anything screens. Non-digital (do we call them analogue?!) books competing with electronic touch screen e-readers that have colour, fancy pictures and well; they don’t make your hand go numb while contorting yourself to read and stay awake and not upset the dog, who is fast encroaching on your space. Sometimes it is a no-brainer, the e-version is heaps cheaper, and you get it instantly. But something still is so incredibly satisfying about holding a book. The weight. The page turning.
It’s not all that its cracked up to be. Sure, there are countless hugs, smiles and ‘I love you’s’ but there is SO. Much. Doubt. Doubting of yourself, your decisions and your methods. Worrying about the ‘big picture’ the things that might be a direct response from your decision to feed your kids weetbix for tea because you are simply exhausted, haven’t had time to organize dinner and have not got any fight left in you after being battled all day by four inquisitive and sharp minds.
The constant chatter, both in your mind and all around you. The yearning for silence, and then when they are all asleep wanting to wake them up and talk to them or just hear them laugh. The arguments in your head – you talk yourself in and out of things in a matter of seconds. The way you quickly adjust to this gig and simply put yourself last, every time. Sharing everything, dividing whatever it is you are eating into five pieces, equal pieces. The ability to risk assess and manage almost any playground, park or play area in a matter of seconds. Knowing exactly what your child wants, often before they even ask for it.
The daily battles with not only myself, but with the kids, need to be selected – and carefully. Some days, fatigue sets in early, and clouds my judgment. Things that normally might not bother me, do. Couple this with four active and stubborn kids and it leaves me feeling like I am just out to survive the day. Waiting, waiting, waiting for that sun to go down so they can go to bed. Only to sleep a bit and then I get to do it all again tomorrow. If only you know completely, before having kids, just how much psychological warfare is to be used, so you can equip yourself, prepare yourself. I am unprepared, unmatched, and outmanned most days.
I think I would have laughed if someone told me 10 years ago that raising kids was like ‘this’. Even now I sometimes catch myself looking at the scenario – I mean really looking, and thinking, ‘wow, why do I actually care so much if she does not want to do ____/wear ____/eat ____? ‘ Motherhood is a strange existence sometimes. One minute you are consoling a sick/injured/tired child, the next you are on full scale debate as to why we should eat vegetables, or the values of doing a base in lego. There are no professional development days as a mum. Most of the ‘experience’ you gain is your own passage of motherhood time. There are no powerpoint presentations to help you prepare, there are books, but they generally make me feel as though I am doing far worse than I thought.