There’s a hush in the room. . . The kind of eerie silence found at graveyards and in the darkest depths of a forest. For any parent this is the time to worry. The kids are looking at the living room door as though in pure silence. The only sound is the footsteps of someone slowly walking down the stairs. The kids looks at each other maintaining silence. I wonder what they’re thinking. Are they telepathically communicating their dastardly plans of home domination? Or are they just bored of my crap?
Their mother reaches the bottom of the stairs and peers through the door. Roars of applause erupt from both kids ‘MUMMY’ Ray shouts with joy. Hope begins to clap. Both kids are overjoyed by their mother’s arrival.
See I’m the authoritarian of this house and so far this morning they’ve not had it easy. Sure they’ve had Peppa Pig and biscuits but it didn’t come easy. Mummy is a YES lady and is easy on the treats. It’s an agreement we have. Sure I get to be fun dad who comes in from work at the end of the day and riles up that last bit of energy they have. I’m probably the reason getting pyjamas onto them is so difficult. But I am also the guy who says NO! I feel like I say NO a lot. I try my hardest to implement the rules and to stick to them. I want to lounge about and have fun, play fight with Ray and encourage Hope to use the baby walker like something from a Tony Hawks skate video. I also want the kids to grow up to be respectful of people, their environment and their possessions. I constantly struggle with whether I’m too harsh or if I flit between ‘that’s naughty’ and ‘I love you’ too easily. I battle with the mantra ‘I want to raise them right’. What the hell does that mean?
With all the differing cultures in the world, with changes in the generations, the development of the world is there a ‘right’ way to raise my kids? There is advice and instructions on every aspect of their lives from how much TV to watch, what they should/shouldn’t eat, number of hours sleep, play requirements. This advice and these instructions come from everywhere. It creates a pressure that simply there’s so much of it it’s impossible to follow it all. Half of it contradicts the other half and all of it carries a bias of the person delivering it be it friends, family or professional. It’s endless.
Now don’t get me wrong we can’t be expected to instantly know what to do in every situation with our kids and so support and guidance is needed (I find often). However, taking that advice/support needs to be a parent’s decision and they need the freedom to make mistakes too. Every decision we make for our children is not always going to be the best decision or the ‘right’ decision. But we need to be free to weigh the pros/cons and decide what we think is right for our kids in any given situation. I’m pretty much in the same camp as the views expressed in this Blog shared by Alicia Bayer of the Huffington Post.
Our kids need to know love and though that includes rules and safety it also includes mistakes and room to live.
Which brings me to the arrival of Mummy. Fresh from the shower, hair done, make-up on and clean clothed she enters the war zone to bring peace and order. My messy, drained and battered body slumped on the living room floor watches as she glides about eradicating the chaos with ease. I muster the energy to sneak into the kitchen and pop the kettle on. I pop my head in and ask if there’s anything she wants and can’t help but notice the rice crispies are gone and Hope has a much calmer demeanour. I return minutes later with our drinks and find Ray clothed and Hope in the process of a nappy change. Do my eyes deceive me, are these the same children from 20 minutes ago who had me ready to wave the white flag? I go to get freshly popped toast and return once again to find Ray at the table playing peacefully with Play-dough and Hope up at the TV with her hands raised dancing to some Netflix nursery rhyme show. My wife’s a bloody magician! Nope, she’s just mum. She’s more than just mum, she’s their MUM. She’s like every mum out there, that knows her children. She’s a peacekeeper, a diplomat, a coordinator.
Her time spent as a mum goes unrecognised by society as anything special but it’s far beyond special. I’m sat here writing about my morning with the kids as a battle and she’s already won the war. I like to think I’m a good dad but that’s in the context of my family, not in comparison to any other. I couldn’t do this without my wife beside me mothering these kids to the best of her ability. We’re a team and that’s what makes this work, for our little family. This gives me a greater appreciation and respect for anyone facing the challenges of parenthood alone. My hat goes off to you and I hope that you have the support you need from other avenues (please contact me if you don’t).
I may sound defeatist as a dad or even as though I don’t enjoy my role but that’s more about me than it is about my perceptions of the dad role. I suffer from anxiety and a mind that worries and analyses everything to the ends of the earth. I love my family, I love the time I spend with my kids (on a whole) and I love being a dad.
As for who won the battle? So I have to take a cop out here. Though the kids were 3-1 up, we were all up and out of the house before lunch, playing in the park and having fun. I don’t see a loser in this situation, everyone’s a winner. # cheese #sorry #notsorry
If any of this sounds familiar please like, share or comment.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for reading.