We’ve all done it.
Looked down our metaphorical nose and thought ‘I’D never do that with my kids’.
The early years are the worst. You make all these promises to yourself about the type of parent you will be.
You certainly won’t be the harassed looking parents in a restaurant who try to ‘manage’ their screaming toddler as he’s yelling till his face turns violet that HE WANTS AN ICE CREAM and he wants it RIGHT NOW?
Did you tsk at them too? Of course you did.
It’s OK, I’ve been there. And now I feel a great need to apologize out loud to all the mothers I ever gave dirty looks to for having screaming, unmanageable kids.
Because you swear to yourself don’t you, that you will never ever let your child become a walking advert for Barney/Dora/Pokemon or spit on a hanky while in public to wipe the chocolate from around their mouth (them having eaten said chocolate just an hour before dinner time too).
And it sounds so great in your head. You’ll be this tolerant, calm, earth mother whose yogic breathing practices will help her through the difficult waters and make sure she rises above the scraggy looking women with baby puke on their shoulder and a fistful of food in the back of her hair who are screaming at their tots with spittle flying out of their mouths.
I will NEVER be that woman you promise yourself.
Then reality hits you right between the eyes in the form of a child and you’ve got more chance of meeting George Clooney in the supermarket than having any time for yogic breathing – or any breathing for that matter – and you will do anything ANYTHING for a moment’s peace or to stop the cheek-burning embarassment in the middle of a packed supermarket as your angelic babe yells at the top of their lungs that they want the biggest bar of chocolate on the shelf.
So yes, I bribed my kids with treats. Their little bodies are a temple right? Well not when I’m half way round Tesco with a full trolley and Mia decides that she kinda fancies throwing the shopping out as fast as I’m putting in followed by shouting “oi lady” to other shoppers when she can’t get her own way.
And I STILL do it. Even now they’re grown up. I am still THAT mother.
1. I talk about my children ALL THE TIME.
Have you noticed how parents do that? Every little event in their child’s life is replayed in graphic detail and if you sit next to a parent at work you know so much about their ‘milestones’ that you actually want to behave like a child yourself and throw a tantrum of your own.
And if ever you ever get two mums sitting together at work . . .
Now I’m a mum I have to gag myself. “It was so funny this morning . . .” I start, then think actually, unless you were there it’s actually not that funny at all.
Save it for the blog, I tell myself.
2. I use the TV/iPad as a babysitter.
Still. I still do this. Picture the scene. You’ve just got in from work after picking the children up from school/sport/Brownies. You need to make them something to eat, make yourself a medicinal cup of tea and juggle making their packed lunch for tomorrow while also thinking what to make yourself and hubby for tea.
While you’re trying to do all this you have one child practising his hockey skills around your feet while the other begging you to play Frustration with them (SUCH an apt name for a game) and it’s pouring with rain outside so if they do go out and play you have at least an hours clearing up to do after.
Who you gonna call? The Simpsons of course. Or Modern Family, Tracy Beaker, Great British Bake Off, hell anything just so that you have 25 minutes to race around the house like someone pressed the fast forward button and get all of those jobs done.
3. TV dinners.
Oh sure, I can hear you tutting. I always plan for us to sit down together as a family but it never happens. Boy did I tut at people that didn’t do this. Seriously, how hard is it to put aside half an hour to sit down together? They’re just not trying.
Then I had kids and the chances of us all being in the same house, let alone the same room every night is minimal. To be honest, I’m just glad they get to eat something I’ve cooked so I’ll turn a blind eye to the fact that they’re sat watching Doctor Who as they spoon peas into their mouths.
4. I will be a tolerant parent
Do you even know how hard this is? You think the toddler years are a challenge with all the tantrums, biting and strops. But boy oh boy does the pre-teens bring a whole new set of rules to the table.
I am a fairly laid-back mother. It takes a lot to make me snap. I have little chats with myself, little pep talks to calm me down.
But when your daughter has cut the label out of the expensive new top you’ve bought her and left a gaping hole in the material DESPITE you telling her not to do it, your tolerance reaches its elastic limit.
What else do you promise yourself?
That you will not allow chocolate or sweets before a meal?
That you will not let your children dictate your lifestyle?
That you will be cool about the girl/boyfriends they bring around?
That you will never scream like a banshee and remain calm and impartial at all times . . .
Sure. So what are the promises you made yourself before becoming a parent?