Think of one of those mornings when you are trying to get yourself (and the kids) out the door by a specific time, and things are not going well. This story is about one of those mornings.
As well as my four year old (“B1”) and two year old (“B2”) boys who have been waking during the night, I have a two month old baby (“Bubba Girl”) who feeds in the night. I’m sleep deprived. I’d had an emotional few days. Bubba girl was crying from being over-tired, and despite my best efforts the boys were not getting ready. My stress levels were rising. I was trying to settle the baby, get all of us dressed, pack the lunchboxes I hadn’t gotten around to the previous night and B2 decided now is the time to sit himself on the toilet… I was so close to giving up and staying home, but was so close to getting out the door that I didn’t want all the effort to go to waste. We were so close, and we’d all have a better morning once
mummy got her cup of tea we got there.
I was walking through the entry of our house to the lounge room to pick up crying Bubba Girl when it happened. There was an unexpected knock on the wooden door.
I got a fright and screamed. I burst into tears.
I opened the door, tears streaming down my face, to the Australia Post parcel delivery lady.
She asks, “One of those days, hey?”
Moment Two – Later that afternoon …
We’d just been to the doctors and discovered B2 had tonsillitis, so went next door to get his antibiotics from the Pharmacy. When I am concerned about losing B2 or him running away (eg. in shops, carparks etc), I often get the boys to hold hands whilst walking and they usually do it quite well. So they walked together into the pharmacy whilst I followed behind pushing the pram. Whilst we waited, I chatted a bit with another two ladies waiting for their medication.
Have you ever noticed how many things there are to touch on the counter? If you have kids, surely you have! There were cars, lip balms, wallets, watches and all kinds of gifts, not to mention all the chocolates, lollies and musli bars just at the perfect height for kids to touch. So touch them B2 did. Over and over again. Each time I would lean over and gently hold his hand, and ask him not to touch please. After I don’t know how many times doing this (8-10 at a guess?), I crouched down to his level, and explained that these things were not ours, we do not own them, and therefore we cannot touch them. I got smiles from the ladies.
The boys then played and hugged each other laughing for a while, whilst I chatted to the ladies some more. It came up in conversation how my boys are “like chalk and cheese… one likes to follow and enforce the rules, the other likes to break them. Can you guess which one is which?” and we all had a laugh. They knew!
As I was paying, B2 tried touching a few more things. I pointed to the carpet next to the pram and quietly told B2 to sit and wait there. I reckon there was about a 50% likelihood of him doing what I’d asked, but to my surprise he did. And he stayed there (win!).
As we went to leave, I asked the boys to hold hands again. B2 refused, and made both hands into a fist. He put his head down and shook it. I could hear the two ladies, another who had walked up, as well as the two pharmacy assistants having a giggle at how cute he was. I got down onto my knees and gently explained that we would wait right here until he was ready to hold hands. And we waited, completely calm and patiently. After about a minute they held hands. They walked out and I followed behind with the pram.
As I left, I heard one of the ladies say to the others, “She’s certainly got things all worked out, doesn’t she?”
Reflecting in the car
As I drove home, I couldn’t get the contrast between these two moments out of my mind, and the fact that both extremes had occurred on the same day. In the first moment I looked in desperate need of parenting classes and a good sleep, yet in the second I appeared like mother-of-the-year (I wish!).
If asked how my day was, I’d probably think of the morning chaos and dismiss the afternoon successes. How many times have I dismissed the good job that I’m doing, only to focus on the negatives?? I concluded that I was being way too harsh on myself this morning. I should not define my days or my parenting ability by a few bad moments, but rather should be encouraged by the ‘success’ moments and look at the big picture.