Does my Face Look Bovered?

Does my face look Bovered?
Grab a cuppa! Reality check a comin!

Have you ever felt like you’ve let your kids down or made a mess of things?

Have you ever felt like a failure because you didn’t reach your own expectations of how things should be?

Like when you’ve had the morning from Hell and then you spend the day feeling guilty that your kids will be upset all day?

Or a part of a birthday gift didn’t arrive on time and you worry that it’ll ruin the whole surprise?

Or you find something after Christmas which you meant to use or do and now you feel like you’ve messed up?

Or you spend the whole of the weekend cleaning and doing housework and are sure that you are ruining their lives because they’ve had to entertain themselves all weekend?

Or you don’t think to book a magician for her First Communion and then it’s too late?

Or you’ve had to work late and feel like you are not giving enough attention to your kids?

Or you’ve not been able to organise (or afford) the cake you wanted to get your 3 year old?

Or you’ve told your 8 year old they can invite 4 friends to their birthday party, but Jacinta up the road has the whole class at little Vincentula’s?

I could go on and on…and on…and on… and on…

We set ourselves so many standards and expectations around our children’s experiences. We feel like a failure if their experiences are not what we intended them to be… But when things do not go to plan, do they look “bovered?”

Nope. The only one whose face looks “bovered”, is Mammy.

I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. It’s an incredible memoir. Everyone really should read it.

One of the memories she describes has stood strong in my head since I read it. It’s about her daughter’s tenth birthday. She describes how it fell just weeks before the Presidential Election, when they were in the midst of the campaign trail, constantly surrounded by a management team and journalists and Secret Service.

She remembers they had to use the 4th of July carnival they had to attend to ‘celebrate’ their daughter’s birthday; How they spent the day passing disappointed glances at each other; How they longed for the day to be over so that they could get an hour on their own with their daughter that evening; How they both felt like failures because they couldn’t take a day off work.

The guilt that they both felt that day was immense. And even when they did get to the hotel, their “private” party still had about 20 of their team present.

Michelle talks about the plain hotel function space, the “store bought” cake, the gifts that one of the team had had to go to buy as she was unable to go to a store alone… and she spoke of the desultory disappointment she felt in herself.

She spoke about the shame she felt that her daughter’s birthday was spent working, dragging her along and not at home with her friends. And she describes the guilt she and her husband felt in a way that every parent can understand.

I felt her pain as I read. I’ve just returned from a 4 day work trip. I had the worst dose of Mammy Guilt before I left and while I was there. I felt that my girls were being passed from Granny to Daddy to school, and that I was the worst Mum in the world for not being close at hand for a few days.

But when I returned, I realised something. My perspective to the trip was so incredibly different to theirs.

While I was teary eyed about leaving them on what happened to be my Birthday, they saw only that they were getting to go play with their cousins.

While I worried that they’d miss me, they saw time alone with Daddy where Mammy wasn’t there to interfere!

Where I felt the guilt of sending them to my Mum’s house again, they saw the utter, imcomparable joy of getting a Sleepover in GannyGanda’s where they’d get pancakes for breakfast and 37 stories at bedtime.

Where I felt that I’d need to make it up to them when I finally got home, they only saw their Mammy, who was home safe with them.

The hugs were brief but tight, and after 5 minutes of showing me EVERYTHING they had made or done since I left, Mini-Me looked into my eyes and announced that they’d had a lovely time and asked when I could go away again… Cheers Babe.

Just like Michelle Obama’s daughter bounced over to her parents on that birthday and hugged them tight announcing “This has been the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!”, My two girls saw things in a very different way.

Because that is what kids do.

And as parents we need to remember that. Most of the things that we worry about, would NEVER be considered or noticed by our kids.

Kids don’t dwell on the bad morning. They remember the kiss on the nose or the promise of “See you in a wee while!”

They don’t give a damn about the thing Mammy forgot to get, or that the cake is from a shop, or that the spuds get burnt, or that there are no crackers at Christmas. Kids are paying attention to a whole other set of things…

So ease up on yourself Mammy.

Are your kids loved? Are they safe? Are they fed?

Yeah? Well chances are, that even if YOU are feeling guilty or disappointed, or that you feel a failure about something, your kids don’t care.

They only see you.

And if you look closely at them, you’ll see that their face certainly does not look “bovered”.

I am Schoolbags, Nelly and Polly Mum

Some days are disastrous.

Some days, it’s hard to be Positive Polly.

All it takes is ONE little thing to start a sequence of events that push us down the hill like a big, crazy snowball…gaining momentum and strength as they roll. And it’s so easy for us to suddenly be out of control, losing direction and heading for a crash.

This morning, I snowballed. And I don’t mean a fluffy, fablis, functioning one.

I’m still sick. I know that, and honestly, I should probably stay in bed for few days, but there’s little time to be lying down when life has to keep going on for everyone else in the house, isn’t there? (And I’m sure there’ll be a Blue Peter badge in the post one of these days, won’t there?)

It was one of those mornings where time seemed to go faster than me, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and where my Positive Polly faltered and my Negative Nelly won.

Finally getting into the car and starting our already late journey, I realised that we’d left Mini-Me’s school bag in the house. Now the Positive Polly in me says “Sure at least you realised when you did, only 300 yards down the road.” I hear her now, but at the time, the Negative Nelly in me was screaming ‘FFS’ and ‘FML’ and ‘Are you fecking kidding me’ and all sorts, while trying to do a 3 point turn on a one-car wide laneway.

At that moment, Nelly wanted to fight Polly… And trust me, Nelly would have won. This morning, Nelly would have battered McGregor.

Then as I tried to get us to the bus on time, every dumbass driver in the area pulled out in front of me and of course it was THEIR faults that I was later and later and later.

I cursed some more, genuinely stressed more than I have been in a long time, balancing the need to be cross at Mini-Me for walking PAST her fecking schoolbag on her way to the car again, and the need to make her feel loved and fecking secure before leaving Mammy for the day. I lost at this too.

I tried to start conversations.

“Are you looking forward to PE?”

She refused to answer me. She glared out the window, ignoring me. Positive Polly whispered, ‘Leave her be. She’s upset too’. Nelly however roared “Answer me when I’m speaking to you!” Herself got thicker with every mile and Mammy got more and more upset.

Leaving her off, I got a half-arsed hug. Her usual smiling and repeating “Bye Mammy” and excessive waving off, was replaced by the back of her head storming into the room. Mammy tried to make her smile by sticking out my tongue and winking at her. Nope. Her Negative Nelly was winning too and she glared at me like a teenager who’s just been grounded for a month…

The other one gave me a big tight hug, for all her-not-even-threeness, knowing that Mammy needed a cuddle and making me feel a bit better.

I got back into my car and drove out the gate. Mini-Me always runs out to wave as I pass. I toot the horn and wave back and I always leave for school with a smiling face etched in my mind.

This morning? Well, she came out alright, but only to punish me more by NOT waving.

She then turned her back on me as I tooted and waved like a demented Twatso… at the back of her thick wee head.

Negative Nelly was just bitchslapped into her box and this Mammy drove to work in an absolute state.

The guilt. The anger (at myself). The shame.

My daughter went to school upset. I fucked up royally, all over a school bag and my own general shittiness.

There was no one to make Mammy feel better and Mini-Me certainly didn’t give a damn if Mammy felt loved and secure as she started her day. Why would she? That’s not her job.

But if punishing me and making sure I berate myself all day is her job, she’s CEO there already. A child’s ability to punish and destroy its mother, is a skill that can only be matched by the mother herself.

It lingered in me all day. I had to teach a poem about a mother’s love for her child first thing. I just about got through that. Thankfully, my pal at work could smell that I was stressed and a quick hug and a wee tear later, I was less mental and more able to function. But still. When I think of the emotional wreck I have been today, it makes me worse again as I can’t imagine what she was like.

Negative Nelly doesn’t rear her ugly head much with me in fairness. And after today, she can piss away off. Tomorrow is another day and it’ll be so much nicer with Polly. As will I.

And as it happens, she still loves me and a hot chocolate and a cuddle can solve all the problems of the world, for both Nelly AND Polly.