This weekend has not been great. In fact it’s been awful. My 4 year old pushed me to breaking point and beyond.
I go through occasional phases of reading parenting books. I take them with a pinch of salt but there is usually something useful in them.
My reading this time took me into the realms of emotional intelligence. I totally agree with the principles. We should talk to our children about emotions. We should acknowledge their feelings and help them to accept them and to act appropriately on them.
So I bought some books to read with the children. ‘The Big Bag of Worries’ and ‘How are you Feeling Today’. Both great books.
The books arrived on Friday and we read them through the day and at bedtime. 4 year old and 2 year old both enjoyed them and kept asking for them.
Go me. Great parenting.
Then we reached bedtime.
4 year old announced that he was scared of his bedroom. He did not know what was scaring him and he did not know what we could do do help him with this. Over the next two hours, he whined, shouted, cried, clung and made no sense whatsoever. I really didn’t think he was scared. He didn’t look scared. He didn’t sound scared. But still he said he was scared.
At the same time, 2 year old sang at the top of her voice while running around her bedroom throwing toys and repeatedly taking her nappy off.
I wish I was a more patient person. I wish I could say that I hung in there and talked 4 year old through his feelings. I wish I could say that I calmly explained to 2 year old that it was bedtime and she must go back to bed until she accepted it.
I did not.
I hung in there and stayed calm for as long as I could. This was nowhere near long enough. It was not really very long at all.
I yelled, I swore. In the end I curled up in a ball on the landing and sobbed for an hour.
Not so great parenting.
It didn’t end there. 4 year old then repeated the “I’m scared” performance every 20 minutes from midnight to 4am. 2 year old got up at 6:30am as usual.
This was followed by a day full of the kind of behaviour you would expect from an exhausted 4 year old with two exhausted parents.
This was followed by the exact same bedtime performance.
Not a good weekend.
I wanted to be there for my children. I wanted to support them through their difficulties. I wanted to understand how they were feeling and how I could help them.
I really wanted to know if this was real or if he was just taking the mickey.
I really really wanted to just get on my bike and ride off into the sunset.
I didn’t achieve any of those things.
It was one of those weekends which reminded me just how hard it is to be a parent and to be human and to be yourself.
I think everyone wishes they were a better person to some degree. Is that insecurity or just being human?
I realise that I am able to accept my limits in most areas of my life.
When I am at work, I am a good teacher. I am not a great teacher because I am not that exceptional. But I will do the best I can for the children in my class because I care about them.
When I time trialled, I was a good time triallist. I won a few races. I was not a great time triallist – I could look at a start list and name the women who would definitely beat me. I will never ride at the olympics. But I enjoyed doing the best that I could; beating my times and occasionally getting placed.
Now I am a parent, I am a good parent. I do my best for my children. But I so often feel that my best isn’t good enough, that I am failing. I say the wrong things. I shout. I am impatient. I worry that I am scarring my children for life. It is just not good enough that I am not a great parent. It is not good enough to be good enough.
In all other aspects of my life, I can accept that I am not perfect but I am doing my very best and that is good enough.
Parenting is hard.