When the children were young I was an amazing parent. I didn’t know it at the time, I thought I was awful as I was grumpy and shouted at them lots, but I was wrong, I was fab.
You see I used to have a clean and sparkly house, not all the time so that they couldn’t make a mess, but I used to clean up at the end of the day. Every day. I used to cook nutritious meals, I had my menu planner so that I could ensure that my children and my child minded children would have a variety of foods that were both healthy and that they liked. Meal times were enjoyable. I used to plan activities and games to play to keep them occupied and give them different experiences. I used to check their homework diaries, monitor it to make sure they completed it and help them if necessary. And I used to talk to them. Yes in the past we had conversations. We would actually communicate with each other and I would be aware of what was happening in their lives.
But that was then…and now we live in the here and now.
Admittedly standards started to slip a bit once I gave up childminding and started other employment. I mean there really is no need to clean every day if nobody is going to see it is there? And the world didn’t come to a crashing end if I didn’t bother to vacuum. Bit by bit the homework monitoring slipped too…and eventually disappeared. You can definitely tell the stay at home mothers from working mothers simply by their reaction when you mention the word ‘homework’ to them!
But now, well now I realise I’ve slipped to a whole new level. I’m not sure we can even truthfully call it parenting! It’s become more of a house share with taxi duties. Nutritious meals are a thing of the past. Everyday my heart sinks at the question ‘What’s for tea?’ Because I don’t know and my mind is beyond making that kind of decision! I find myself saying ‘Why are you asking me?’ as though it’s the most unusual question in the world, I mean why would their mother know what was for tea?! And we end up rooting through the freezer and cooking a combination of stuff that doesn’t go together because I’m just too busy to peel potatoes.
And cleaning. What cleaning? I admit that recently I looked first at the polish and duster and then to the antihistamine tablets and actually considered which one would be the better option to stop us sneezing from the dust. And woe to the person who uses the bathroom straight after I have cleaned it! It seriously conjures up what I know to be an unreasonable level of grumpiness. However, if I’m going to take time out to bleach then I want the full benefit of clean and nice smelling bathroom.
And tonight I’ve discovered that we do have conversation but I don’t listen. I suspected as much, and apparently they have told me…but I wasn’t listening. Hmm. So tonight, over dinner at a restaurant for my daughter’s birthday, I finally caught up on their news. Even with their unsociable texting and grunting I managed to have more conversation than we’ve had for a while. We’ve bickered, we’ve laughed, we’ve teased each other and we’ve eaten until we felt sick.
And I’ve told them…You know how I used to be such an amazing parent? Well I still am, it’s just better hidden to make everyone else feel better. I think I may have gotten away with it….