Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Me and my bright ideas.

My six week parenting course began this morning. I arrived one minute late which quite frankly, was a miracle though left the dog most unimpressed with his three minute walk. Somewhat cruelly the first item on the agenda was punctuality. And considering all the other mothers were sitting chatting and drinking coffee, I can only assume the reminder was aimed at me.

Not the best of starts. But not the worst. That was still to come.

The second thing discussed was individual confidentiality. So I can’t mention the others attending, but I figure it’s okay for me to talk about me! And I recon it’d be alright to say everyone was very nice and the two women running the show were a perfect comedy duo.

The session began with the typical cringe worthy ice-breaker – talk to the person next to you for four minutes and then you get to tell the class about them. Thankfully they didn’t make us stand up. And considering what I’m like about talking to strangers, this was probably the best tactic to force me into participating.

My partner was the last to talk, and guess who had the most children? Yep, I got the murmurs and laughter as they all turned to look at me trying to hide on my seat.

The theme wasn’t what I expected. But then, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. It mostly consisted of the mothers talking about problems they have with their children, with many nods of recognition going around every few minutes.

Then they enjoyed a husband bashing flash, ending with Lil (one of the instrustors, or whatever they are) suggesting she held a class entitled ‘Why husbands are superfluous’. I didn’t nod and I had nothing to say.

At the coffee break they all headed off to the common room, whilst I slunk off to sit outside by myself for a few minutes. But I did make it back to class on time.

The second half was the real killer for me. They discussed everyday life and play, making a big focus on priorities.

It started happily enough as all agreed the washing-up and hoovering comes after the children. This wasn’t a problem as I stopped being a house-proud nut many years ago, after I realised you can’t tell whether I bothered to clean up, ten minutes after I’ve finished.

Onto the play aspect.

I’ve never really thought about it before, but I don’t play with my children.

When I had just one child, I did. We would spend afternoons painting, and playing in the sand pit together. And even when I had P, I still found the time to sit and do puzzles with him. But things were difficult with P, when J was born. And then we moved and had the house to renovate. And suddenly I was pregnant with S and the roller-coaster ride truly began. And where am I supposed to find the time? The days never stop.

But these women find the time. Or make it. Every one of them.

My jaw dropped further as each woman in turn told the group about the favourite games they played with their children.

I was lost in a revelation. Each of them had come with a list of dysfunctional gripes they want to rectify, and I had none. And yet each spent hours each week devoting themselves entirely to their children’s whims and desires. But I don’t.

I know it’s not like I don’t do stuff with my kids. But when I think about it, I do the expected stuff like bedtime stories, and an occasional trip out, or baking a cake.

But I don’t see these as choices, more of an obligation. Truth be told, if I had a choice, I’d rather stay in bed.

So I felt like utter crap. (And I still feel like utter crap.)

The clock saved me from having to share this ghastly truth. We were running out of time and Lil and Mil (the instructors) wanted us to fill in our star and wish list. We’re supposed to write down two parenting things we’re really good at (next to the stars), and the third is a wish we want to achieve with the help of this course.

Right then I wished I’d thought more about why I decided to be there.

Lil noticed I was just sat staring at my card and announced (in a surprisingly loud voice!) I needed a pen. I didn’t. I just couldn’t fill it in.

There’s nothing I’m really good at. I get everything done that has to be done. But am I good at it? No, I’m totally freaking hopeless.

And as for my wish, I don’t think I can write: What I wish for, is to wake in the mornings and smile at the thought of the day ahead.

The BH says I’m over reacting. That they’re spouting text book stuff that can’t be applied to large households the way it can to people with just one or two children.

He might be right. I don’t know.

All I do know is, I’ve been fighting tears all day.


Blogger Moxie said...

Ohhhhhhh!...C'mon, girlie! The best thing a parent can give a child is LOVE and it seems to me that you definitely have that covered!

Give yourself more credit, sunshine. You are doing a great job and it's rubbish to compare yourself to anyone, let alone those with less kids in the group. Your hubby is so right! It is a bit textbook with these things and perhaps a good approach to the class is to take from it what suits you and your family and leave that which does not.

I am guessing there is lots the other mothers (and instructors) can learn from YOU, just as much as you from them...so go to the front of the class, sister!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 8:50:00 pm  
Blogger MarkD60 said...

I know from reading your blog that you dance and sing with your children. And you take them places. I know that in the pictures here they always look happy and clean and well dressed and healthy. I remember the pirates costume you made at the last minute. My mother would have been so angry if I asked that. You don't get angry cleaning pee in the middle of the night.
You put all your effort into being a fantastic mother all the time. It is obvious even from afar, and I am sure everybody knows it (except maybe you). A bad mother doesn't worry about being a bad mother, you are always worrying about and correcting things, and you are constantly improving.
This I know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 1:22:00 am  
Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

The fact that 'Each of them had come with a list of dysfunctional gripes they want to rectify, and I had none' rather suggests that you're doing all right.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 8:02:00 am  
Blogger Jona said...

Thank you for all your kind words, they really do mean a lot to me.

I awoke this morning and felt exasperated at the ridiculousness of it all. And I’m thinking some of those women must be lying!

But then I made the mistake of talking to my eldest about it, and he said it would be nice if I played with them more. So by now (mid morning) I’m feeling delicate again! Part of me thinks ‘I can do something about this’ and I've got the urge to try – but it won’t be today. Today’s busy, like yesterday was, and tomorrow will be too.

But I have thought of something I can write next to a star! My children eat healthier than most, and we all sit down at the table and eat together every night! (Of course cooking proper meals is what takes up a lot of my time, and the kids would probably prefer to eat fast food and have an hour or two of play instead ;o))

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:46:00 am  
Blogger mm said...

Debi - they're liars, every one of them. I don't spend much time playing with my kids, my parents didn't play with me, and I doubt yours played with you.

You're raising self-sufficient, self-stimulating (and I mean that in a nice way, Doug) children.

They're raising kids who need someone to tell them what to do.

Now I hope you're happy - you've made me late for work. :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 12:42:00 pm  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Debi, Debi, Debi. Here's what you put down as what you hope to achieve:

"I hope to come to understand that I am doing a damn good job for my family, that my kids are well-adjusted and happy, that my BH loves me, and I am proud to be me. All of that is true, so why can't I believe it?"

(You don't need to pay me. Glad to help out.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 4:16:00 pm  
Blogger Anduin said...

I wish I could say not to feel bad about this, but you'll feel anyway you want to. I know the feeling though, that you feel like you are not doing the things you are "supposed" to do. Fooey on them. You are a good mom, and your children are beautiful and healthy. That's what's important.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 5:00:00 pm  
Blogger Jona said...

Maureen, You’re right! I can’t remember my parents ever playing games with me – except at Christmas, and I do that! And still I think of my childhood as idyllic :o)

Thanks Hoss! And thanks for letting me off the bill too ;o)

Anduin, I am feeling more ‘robust’ today, but I’ve yet to figure out what I shall admit to at class next Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 6:46:00 pm  
Blogger mm said...


You aren't crying because you're a lousy, no good mother.

You're crying because your PERIOD IS DUE!!! Go eat chocolate - you'll be fine.

Dr. Maureen

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 7:10:00 pm  
Blogger Jona said...

Ah well, Dr Maureen, the thing is, now I'm paying attention - it turns out I'm irregular (yeah, in more ways than one!). Been there already. And what I really fancy eating is rasberries, but they're out of season and costing a fortune :o(

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 7:34:00 pm  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Debi. I'm with Maureen -- all those cows are lying, every one.

You have absolutely nothing to get depressed about in the parenting department. You DO have a bit of an inferiority complex, but I think if you look at things objectively you'll see that as a bit of neurosis and not the actual truth.

Problem is, you went there intending to be honest. The rest of them are there to play games with each other.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 8:46:00 pm  
Blogger mm said...

Ummm, Doug?

That's Dr. Maureen, eh?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 11:19:00 pm  
Anonymous Hale McKay(Mike) said...

I agree with Doug, you were probably the only one being honest. They sugar coated themselves. You had the courage to be honest with them and yourself.
...(You come recommended by Hoss - here I am)

Thursday, September 22, 2005 1:36:00 am  
Blogger Jona said...

Doug, Thank you, this morning I’m feeling braver than ever and a little silly for allowing myself to be so easily upset :o)

p.s. are you saying I’m neurotic?!

Hi Mike, Thanks, and thanks for visiting! Did you see Hoss said I had mood swings?! ME?!!! (As if ;o))

Thursday, September 22, 2005 9:17:00 am  
Blogger Amanda Matilda said...

As someone who has taught classrooms full of children raised to believe that an adult's job is to make their lives entertaining, let me tell you that you are doing your children a tremendous service by raising them to be responsible for finding their own ways to make life interesting. I don't think parents realize just how essential this skill is. Playing with them is really not a parent's role as I see it. Communicating with them, being approachable, being tuned in--all those things are, but it doesn't (and maybe shouldn't) be done in the context of playing.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 7:11:00 pm  
Blogger Jona said...

Thank you Amanda! That actually makes sense as my eldest (whom I did play with) is the most useless at entertaining himself and is always asking what he should do next ;o)

Thursday, September 22, 2005 8:26:00 pm  

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