Scary stories from a lovely place
At the moment as we’re visiting Ireland I’ve felt a renewed pressure to appear to be a good mother. I am, after all, living with my in-laws and they have the opportunity to see firsthand the blossoming characters of my children as well as my particular ways of relating to them. I’m lucky – my in-laws are great, and so the pressure is from within.
Over the last 6 months Silas and I have brokered a good relationship of give and take, negotiation, sharing and obedience. Communication is indeed a wonderful thing. But at the moment, things feel like they have degenerated. Oh man. I am just repeating myself and repeating myself. I’m trying to negotiate, speak calmly, say please. But none of it is working. I’m talking to myself. It’s dull and annoying.
Besides wanting to be strong on communication and connection Stephen and I don’t have a brand for what sort of parenting we’re doing. We’ve talked a lot about the different methods and I’ve done a lot of reading of books, blogs and websites. Most of them are unhelpful and annoying. We know what we don’t want to do. But we aren’t sure that what we do want to do is working. And there’s a lot of pressure – they’re the architects and politicians, husbands and fathers of tomorrow.
Frustratingly though, it all seems to be a bit random anyway. Is it nuture or is it nature? Even if we pick a good way and do our best, maybe they’ll turn out rotten anyway?
Our methods are on the gentler, child-led side of things. I read a lot of blogs written by mothers who think similarly and a common complaint they receive is that such methods turn children into selfish, irresponsible adults and are the reason the world is in ‘such a state’.
A few times when I’ve been really frustrated I’ve tried to be stricter. For example when Oisín was a baby Silas liked biting his toes. Once he bit Oisín’s little toe almost off. Seriously, the dint was deep and the crying was intense. I felt like I had to do something, talking wasn’t going to cut it. So I smacked him on the arm. No response. The next time he went near Oisín’s toe I told Silas it was wrong and he stood in front of me, put out his arm and smacked himself. A look of mocking glowed from his eyes. So I figured the smacking thing wasn’t going to work for us.
I know that when we get home to Australia and life gets back to normal we will be able to get back into our rhythms of life and my relationship with the kids will sort itself out. In the meantime, even though I am frustrated to my core, they are lovely. Each day I still have a moment or two where I sharply draw my breath as I realise that these children are mine, I made them and that I get to look after them. And they are funny and interesting and lovely.