I don’t think I am going to be alone when I say that without a doubt, my most favourite part of every day is the couple of minutes I spend tiptoeing into my children’s bedrooms, just before I go to bed. The house is silent, there is nothing left for me to do and my children are fast asleep in their beds. I walk in and feel the same rush of joy I felt when I clapped eyes on them in the delivery room. Bending down to adjust their duvet cover so they are fully wrapped up or lifting their heads back onto their pillows, I can smell their skin and place the tip of my nose onto their super soft cheeks so I can practically drink in their deliciousness. Then I whisper that I love them and creep back out. Sometimes I will get on the bed and snuggle alongside them for a couple of minutes, sometimes I am so overwhelmed with how much I love them I can get tearful, sometimes they look so gorgeous I want to wake them up and say sorry for all the times I have shouted at them that day and promise I will be a better mum tomorrow.
My babies are four and six years old at the moment. And most days I want to runaway from home because I find being the mum I want to be for them, or the one I think I should be, is so damn hard. For every time I get it right or I think I’ve finally had breakthrough on a behavioural issue, there are about six moments when it’s just, well…ugly.
In that moment when I am drinking in their soft perfect skin and delighting in their innocence, I think back to earlier that day when I was locking one of them out in the garden because they wouldn’t sit down at the table and eat their food with a fork, even though I’d politely asked them to six times already. And I feel sad that they aren’t sharing in this moment with all its peace and joy and lack of shouting.
My children are literally feral at the moment. Definition of ‘feral’: resembling or characteristic of a wild animal.
A couple of days ago they were both running around the garden fully naked, which happens all the time, no matter the weather. And BOTH of them stood in front of me and weed on the patio. Even Minnie. Just took a wide stance and urinated.
Jackson is by far the most challenging at the moment. His commitment to being a man-child is exhausting. He wants to be a man and take himself off wherever and whenever he chooses. We go to the park or the shops and he marches off. Doesn’t say he’s going, doesn’t look back, doesn’t come back. But then we can be walking to pick up Minnie from school and he has his arms up wanting to be carried in my arms. If he wants a snack he can build a ladder out of furniture to get his hands on the chocolate biscuits he saw me hide earlier on. But almost every dinner time he wants to be spoon fed (hence the locking out in the garden).
We battle every day. It’s relentless. Getting in the car to do school drop offs. Picking up a handful of things from a shop. Walking to the park with the dog. Eating any meal at the kitchen table. Tidying up rooms buried in toys. Getting into the bath. Getting out of the bath. Reading a book for homework. Staying in bedrooms after 8pm.
And one of the biggest frustrations I have at the moment is that in all this fighting they have no idea how much I love them. I know they couldn’t possibly understand because their childish worldview only understands comfort and getting what they want as being loved. How could they possibly understand that me withholding chocolate or refusing to carry them is actually because I love them so much?
I tell them I love them everyday. They know I love them but they have no idea just how much. I don’t know that I can comprehend how much I love them. It still takes me by surprise. Jackson looks at me tearfully as I say goodbye at pre-school and it’s like running the last mile of a marathon walking to my car. Minnie rides her bike without stabilisers in the school “do-athalon” and keeps a good pace, and I want to give her a trophy. My little boy gives me a cuddle and tells me he loves me and I can’t see how I will ever let him have a girlfriend, ever. I look at a photo of Minnie when she was two, with blonde curls and a sweetheart pout and I can’t believe something so beautiful came from my body.
To say that we love our children to the moon and back only scratches the surface. A parents love is unfathomable. It’s unbreakable, overwhelming, exhausting. It’s of God.