Bless you, Eleanor Roosevelt, I couldn’t have said it better! As a mum who needs to make constant choices towards my three year old’s happiness, safety, contentment, education, entertainment, nutrition, I constantly feel EXACTLY like that.
The latest example is my choice to do a little part-time, temporary job in the afternoon, looking after two other children. I thought it would be ideal for us, as a mama and daughter team, as Emma could come along so she wouldn’t be separated from me. I would earn some cash, she would earn new friends, winners all around, right? Aaaaaah, nope!
Monday was bad but bearable. I saw it coming from the moment I picked her up from playgroup. “I want crackers and cheese!” was screamed at me as soon as she got into the car. Naturally, as the afternoon progressed, so did her moods escalate. But they were manageable.
Yesterday was bad. She didn’t get to nap, played hard in Funky Monkeys so by the end of the afternoon when I left the kids’ house I was feeling sorry for them. And for myself. She napped in the car so I foolishly assumed I was out of the woods. Oh, no…she had kept her best for a last performance. Think banged doors, flung around toys, screaming, nonsensical demands, whining, tears and more whining. More than I can bear whining. And you know what? She keeps all this “special treatment” for me. As soon as daddy got home she plastered a smile on her not-so-long-ago-scrunched-up-face and said sweetly: “Daddy, let’s play!”
So my conclusion is: no matter what you do as a mum, your kids will never be happy with your choices because kids are primarily concerned with their own comfort and little else. And once you make a choice, you need to learn to live with it and your kid’s almost certain disapproval. Probably find compromises that would make all involved if not happy at least comfortable.
Last weekend I attended a writing course with Mumsnet and the conversation led to the very same subject. I was shocked to hear that women dealt with the same dilemma even 15 years after they had had kids. How disabling had felt for them to face the reality of having a child in a busy man’s world and how restrictive their career choices had felt afterwards. How torn they feel between doing things that fulfil them professionally and keeping the peace in the house. How the expectations to be there for their kids are always placed on them as mums and rarely on their partners. How even women who in the world’s eyes are professionally accomplished and had achieved the perfect family-work balance by either working from home, working less than they could or giving up work completely felt actually that they had failed someone. Either one of their kids, themselves, their spouse…
I couldn’t bother taking her to playgroup today. The very thought of dragging her out of bed, putting up with her whining over her choice of pants and which toy to bring along in the car made me choose the least stressful option. But I am sure there will be some discontentment along the way. I will just have to live with it, I suppose and wait for the waters to settle again…