There are times when I struggle as a mum. I know, shocker, right? I always keep my struggles so well hidden. OK, so there are lots of times when I struggle as a mum. The biggest struggle these days is the internal debate as to whether what I am saying to The Baby, what I am teaching her and the values I am trying to instill in her, are the right ones. Whether what I am making a big deal out of, and telling her off about, and standing no nonsense over, is actually worth it. Whether the battles I choose to fight (and despite feeling that the only words I ever utter are “No”, “Stop it”, “Put it back” and “Don’t do that please”, there are lots I choose to let go, often from sheer lack of enough energy for a stand-off) are the right ones.
I like to believe that I am right. Don’t we all? And really, I have to trust I am right, as it’s my responsibility (along with The Boyfriend, of course) to bring this little eighteen-month-old girl up with standards and morals and behaviour which I believe to be right and fair, and I have to trust my instincts. There is really no-one else to tell me that what I am doing is right; people can offer advice or opinion, but it’s ultimately down to The Boyfriend and I. It’s a scary prospect and it’s something I think about a lot.
All debates and conversations in the head aside, sometimes the real struggle is keeping a straight face. Sometimes I know I am right to make a big deal out of the situation, to encounter yet another tantrum and have a thousand “NO”‘s screamed at me, because the point I am making is important, and without sounding too much like a teacher, it is for her benefit more than mine. For instance earlier today, having been awake at 3.30am and waking properly at 7am, The Baby didn’t go for a nap until gone 11am. She was ratty, grumpy, over-tired, and really not very happy at the prospect of being put to bed, especially as we were with my parents who she adores, at their house. But she needed a sleep, and I knew she would just get rattier and grumpier without it. So I took her upstairs, put her in her sleeping bag and lay her in her cot. Fifteen minutes later I was back in to put her back in her sleeping bag and back in her cot.
Another fifteen minutes later I could hear strange noises coming from her room, and went in to find that not only was she out of her sleeping bag, but she was untucking the sheets from the travel cot and bouncing up and down whilst doing it. She greeted my presence with “Boo Mummy!”. I wore my best stern-mum face, picked her up, made little eye-contact, lay the sleeping bag on the spare bed, and lay The Baby down to fasten her into it.
She looked up, saw the frilly green cushion sitting just above her head on the bed, and said, “Mmmmmm crisps, nummy nummy nummy”, whilst pretending to pick one of the frills from said cushion and eat it. The stern-mum act died there and then and I knew I had just lost the battle.
She went to sleep at 2pm.