Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fierce, bad and selfish

I'm a bad mummy.

I drank coffee and wine right through three pregnancies.

My babies all ate poo: rat, kangaroo or possum.

I can't remember my children's birthdays.

My baby slipped out the back door. I found her in the compost heap eating last week's vegetable peelings.

Sick kids annoy me.

I told my daughters to 'put it in the fucken rubbish bin'. A few days later, my five year old told her friend to do the same.

A crying baby in the night makes me want to scream.

In a fit of rage, I threw one daughter across a room onto her bed, then slammed the door and left the house.

When I'm furious, I shout so loud that flecks of saliva shoot out my mouth.

I've smacked.

I am a fierce, bad and selfish mum.

The wonder of it all is that my kids are fine. They cope with the occasional Vesuvian eruption, and I mostly leave the room when I feel it coming on. They've eaten compost and animal dung, dirt, leaves and potting mix, with nothing to show for it bar a gritty nappy. They've repeated rude words, and the sky never fell in; mummy just tried not to laugh. They've been smacked, and I've apologised, and we've had another go at the relationship.

When we began, I was so ignorant. I never held a baby until I had my own. My oldest was my training ground. None of our good friends had kids; none of our relatives. Our mothers had died, and our aunties are distant. We had our baby in a vacuum, and learned everything from health professionals and books. It took years for me to trust my instincts, to leave the books on the shelf and go with my gut.

I had to learn how little children are, how young - they really are new in the world. I'm still learning how to be gentle, and loving, and kind. I'm learning to apologise when I make mistakes, or lose my temper. I'm learning to share, to serve others first, to eat after the baby's fed and not just when I'm hungry. I'm learning to observe myself, even in the midst of chaos, to remove myself from a situation before I blow up. I'm learning.

And I'm trying to become more myself, less what other people think I should be. So much of the turmoil of the early years arose out of guilt, guilt for not being able to give up coffee and for regularly sharing a glass of wine during pregnancy; guilt for taking time out for reading, for writing, for chatting with friends so that the baby slips away unnoticed and falls down or eats poo; guilt for not being the ever present ever calm ever perfect mother. No wonder I got angry.

But in letting go of expectations, mine and other people's, I've learned something simple: I'm enough. Enough for my kids, and enough for me. My children are relaxed enough, happy enough, fed enough, clean enough. And I'm gentle enough, thoughtful enough, generous enough for them to thrive. This sense is growing, filling the house like a wandering breeze which drifts in through half open windows and chases out the stale air. And where once lay stagnation and frustration, sources of anger and self-blame, I am finding freshness and hope, playfulness and delight.

1 comment:

  1. This is so beautiful. I have cut and pasted (attributing the author properly) and will now give to all mothers I know who ask me for 'advice' (which I refuse to give! except to say, 'don't seek advice; trust yourself...').


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