Motherhood is not for sissies. Or maybe I should say parenthood, lest some male-ist (is that the opposite of feminist?) takes offense.
I have been reading so many articles and instances of mothers going through the most in the last week that it makes my head spin. We are expected to have a job, run our homes, manage our children, tolerate our partners and look good, all with a smile on our face.
Somebody had the audacity to say the other day that a mother who leaves her child with a nanny to go out is basically a scourge to the human race and therefore should forfeit the right to be called a mother. Okay I am exaggerating a bit (just a tiny bit) but that is how the sentiment felt. I mean, what is the alternative to that scenario? To take the kid with you?!
Now, over and above all our ‘given’ duties and responsibilities we are also charged with being doctor, nurse and orderly when either our children or wonderful partner gets so much as the sniffles.
Go to the hospital, check in the children’s wards; 90% of people sitting next to the bedsides are mothers (the other 10% are grandmothers). We hold out kids’ hands, we wipe their snot and dry their tears and carry them to the bathroom when they are too weak to go themselves. Dads will come visit for an hour and then on his way out will be like ‘what did you cook at home?’
I have been giving this serious thought for a while and unfortunately was in a situation where it was thrown in my face blaringly.
It is worse when you are a single mother. You don’t have somebody that you can be mad at when the one kid is sick and the other kid(s) want to eat and they’re too young to make something for themselves. You feel like you should morph into a second you just so that 20 years from now you are not sitting in therapy with your grown child, explaining that you did not love the other kid more, but they were sick.
I can actually easily picture such a conversation very clearly. Vividly even.
Therapist:Tell your mother how you feel.
Son:You have always loved the baby more than …
Eldest:Oh please, can you just be …
Therapist: Hold on, let him finish. This is about him, not about you right now, you will get your chance to speak.
3rd born: This is such a waste of time *eye roll
Baby: I have somewhere to be, I told you guys I can only stay an hour and you are wasting my time right now.
Me: Okay darling, call your brother when you’re done, he’ll pick you up.
Son:*hands in the air. See? SEE??? THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT, DO YOU SEE IT??
Therapist: I understand. Calm down. Let’s hear what your mother and sisters have to say.
Me: I love you all the same, darling.
Son: But remember when a), b), c), d) and e, f, g.
Me: Okay son, I apologise and I will try do better.
Son: *eye roll.
We just can’t seem to get it right most times, no matter how hard we try. I make light of it, but the truth is that we do what we can, how we can and with the resources that we have available to us. And honestly, we won’t always get it 100% right, no matter how many books we read or how learned and educated we are.
Chances are we will do many, many things right, and our kids will remember mostly the things that they perceived as wrong, and it may very well take us a lot of our latter years and their young adult lives to sort through all that hurt, pain and mostly misunderstandings.
Our relationships are equally fragile when it comes to facing the trials of life, and it is a rare thing to find someone who will or has the ability to stick it out when the going gets rough or they feel they are second fiddle to the (sometimes even their own) kids.
What to do then? Well, one would hope that not conscioulsy favouring one child over another would be a good place to start. Also, when one is ill, let the others take turns sitting with them. If one uses you as a human jungle gym, afford the rest others the same courtesy. Speak to everybody in the same tone of voice, keep all equally accountable, punish transgressions the same way ….
Seems like a lot of hard work to me, I am just going to keeo doing what I have been doing and pray for the best because wow.
One of you is sick. Yes I am going to be more attentive because I want them to get better.
And if we have to go to therapy for that in some years, then so be it. Just keep that same energy when you are sick next time, crying from the bed.
I will standing in the doorway looking at you, remembering how 20 years from now you dragged me into therapy because I took care of your sibling and you had to have bread and tea for your supper that one night…
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