Parenting is hard work. Any parent will tell you that. You have great days when you can’t seem to wipe the smile off your face because your heart is so full of love for these little people that call you ‘Mum’, and not so great days, when you want to hide in a cupboard with a packet of chocolate biscuits, a glass of wine and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
I’d walk through fire for my kids. I’d be likely to go all Liam Neeson from Taken if anything ever happened to them. But this parenting thing is bloody hard work.
I was writing out the food shopping list the other day and asked my husband if there was anything he wanted to be added to the list. Deodorant? Shampoo for his gym bag? Stash of fun size chocolates for his desk drawer at work? Me being in a cranky mood, muttered under my breath, “I’d like no tantrums and sleep. Where can I get some of that?”
I started to compile a list in my mind of things I wanted. Things I’m pretty sure most parents would relate to and want, but can’t be bought.
I want to sleep.
I want to sleep a restful sleep and wake up in the morning not feeling or acting like a zombie. I don’t want to wake to the sound of one child teasing the other child and have it quickly escalate to tears and a tantrum.
I want to actually enjoy my fantastic, soul-nourishing coffee at a leisurely pace in the morning. Not knocking it back in three gulps while making lunches. No interruptions from a toddler screaming like a banshee because his cereal spoon is on the floor, because he threw it there. Or drinking the coffee cold, because I don’t have the speed of The Flash to be able to get to the toddler in his high chair before he flings his cereal bowl all over the floor, resulting in having to clean the floor before the dogs walk through the cornflakes.
I want my seven year old to finally remember what he has to do to get ready in the morning. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Go to the toilet. It is the same routine every. single. morning. Its Groundhog Day. I’m not sure why he acts so surprised when I tell him he needs to brush his teeth…
Me reminding him and sounding like a broken record doesn’t work, a reward chart doesn’t work, a list in his room of the chores he has to do for him to refer to doesn’t work.
He can’t remember to brush his teeth, but he can name about six droids from Star Wars. My husband didn’t even know there were that many different droids. I couldn’t care less about the droids. I just want him to brush his teeth.
I want to be able to leave the house at the predetermined time. We’re about to walk out the door and then we realise the toddler’s hat is missing from his bag, even though it was in there when I packed the bag the night before. Or the seven year old suddenly decides the socks he is wearing are uncomfortable and has to change them right now. Or as I glance back to check the house before locking the door, I notice the seven year old’s lunch bag and drink bottle are still on the kitchen bench and at the same time as I go to grab them, the toddler tries to make a run for it out the front door being held open, politely for me, by the seven year old…
I want our seven year old to not draw on the bathroom mirror in liquid soap, suncream, moisturiser or toothpaste, for just one day. I know it is him that does it, because he writes his name… Genius, I know.
I know by saying I want these things, I am probably sounding like the whinging children I am whinging about. But you know what? I’ve experienced so many epic tantrums and listened to whinging over dinners for almost every night for five years, I feel like I’m entitled to a tantrum of my own.
I want a break.
If we miraculously get a great day with the toddler, where he doesn’t try to bite inanimate objects out of frustration – the dining table, child safety gate on the stairs, drawer handles – or bite his brother, or hurl a fork across the dinner table that grazes past our heads, then his older brother gets his cranky pants on.
It is exhausting just thinking about it.
I’m trying to pick my battles. I’m looking for short cuts or #lifehacks to try and make things smoother. I’m trying to not get stressed about it. I’m telling myself that I’ll look back in the future and laugh at these times. Or at least have some cracking stories to tell at their 21st birthdays.
I want someone to pour me a big glass of red wine, point me to a comfy chair in a quiet spot where I can sit, and maybe close my eyes. I’m tired.
Some days, it truly feels like hostage negotiation.
What about my list of demands? My requests? Never mind a helicopter, a ridiculously expensive bottle of wine and a suitcase full of unmarked bills, I just want one day of no arguments, tantrums and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones…
What about you? Do you feel like a hostage negotiator some days?
Are you exhausted too?