Sunday, 10 February 2013

I've been lots of different mothers

All the different parenting hats we wear. 
On our Coastrek practice walks, we talk a lot.  Like, the whole time.  Each walk goes for 4-5 hours (sometimes longer), but we have not yet run out of things to say.

Today there were just two of us, but we managed to cover an enormous range of topics, one of which was how mothers are often (rightly or wrongly) categorised into 'types' e.g. helicopter, free range, anxious, over protective, lazy.  Sadly, for a group who share a lot of similar experiences, mothers are not always kind to each other.  I don't think this is news to anyone.

I reckon I have been all of those types mentioned above at different times.  At various points in everyone's mothering journey, I think, we morph into different roles, like maternal chameleons.

So here are a few of the types of mother I've been.  I've been others, and I will become others too in the future, like all mothers out there.

1. The book reading, over analysing new mother.  I've read BabyLove by Robin Barker about 5 times. It was my bible.  I also read all the What to Expect books, Kaz Cooke's hilarious Up the Duff, Babywise, The Contented (Contentious?) Little Baby Book, Raising Happy Kids, Raising Boys, Raising Girls etc etc. I have also forgotten about 15 other ones.  I was also a slave to Annabel Karmel and her recipes.

Sarah ate so much pumpkin, carrot and sweet potato, she took on an orange tint.  Really.

I had a friend who was just like me, and we loved nothing more than a long lunch, spent gently wrangling tiny offspring (she had twins) and our own pet theories over toasted sambos and chocolate cake (we were breastfeeding, and thus immune to the calorific impact of cake).

We both were very earnest, and determined to do it 'right'. Whatever that was.  Anyways, it worked for us until they became toddlers and we realised any thin veneer of control we had was an illusion.

2. The paranoid, over parenting mother of one toddler.  Once Sarah started to walk, I followed her every move.  Now considering the wayward nature of toddlers and their complete lack of fear of dangerous things like roads and oceans, you can understand a bit of close parenting for this stage.  But I think following her around the house might have been going a bit far.

It was an old house, and we'd just moved in and I think I didn't have enough of a grasp of its quirks to feel safe with her out of sight.

Soon after the poor possum started to walk I fell pregnant with the bump that was to be Joshie and I was so miserable this stage ended with me lying on the couch and her wandering off, playing, and returning to find me still there, ashen faced and miserable, she would comfort me by patting my face and saying 'poor'.

3.  The extremely cranky and frustrated mother of a toddler and a newborn.  Poor Sarah.  Once Josh came along, and she was the big sister, I developed completely unwarranted expectations of her behaviour.  Like expecting her to be mature enough to skip the tantrum throwing phase, just because I'd been up 3 times the night before.  I do not like to recall these times as I was snappy, snippy and snarly, to a person who was only being themselves and didn't deserve it.

She was a baby herself.  Poor sausage.
This unreasonable expectation thing has carried through too.  When Sarah started Kindy I thought she was so grown up and treated her accordingly.  Now Issy has started, she still seems like such a baby and gets away all manner of heinous acts.

4.  The Mum who worries their kids isn't like the others.  You know, everyone else's kid in mother's group can crawl/walk/say dadadad/do the hokey pokey and yours can't.  Or you've read the milestone section of a book and your kids isn't hitting them, or hits all but one.  Perhaps there is a problem.  Or perhaps your kid is just doing things when they're meant to.

Sarah was quite the chubba.  She could sit up, and crawl but couldn't go from a crawl to a sit or vice versa (she did it from her tummy).  The crying and shenanigans that went on when she found herself stuck in a crawl or a sit she didn't want to be in seemed to go on for months but I think it was only a week or so before she worked herself out.  Meanwhile I was consulting the gymbaroo lady and thinking about baby physiotherapists.

6.  The Mum who thinks their kid is a genius.  I love this one and I defy any parent not to think it at some stage.  I thought Sarah was a genius for ages.  She talked early which I read somewhere was a sign of high intelligence, and has been determinedly average ever since.  But it's very hard, when faced with a much beloved tiny child who goes from a little expressionless blob to a smiley gurgler who claps on command and can find their own foot to chew on, not to believe every act is one of staggering genius.  Some mothers never stop believing this.  And a few are even right.

7. The over scheduling Mum.  Guilty as charged.  I love a schedule, I love an activity.  I love giving my kids the chance to try stuff in case it becomes their 'thing'.  I love it when they want to do something with a friend.  I love it when friends want to come over.  And of course as I've mentioned many times, I LOVE a car pool.  Even when the kids were younger I could never spend a day at home (my idea of torture), I do love getting out and about.

I know it's not good for them to be over scheduled.  But I also struggle to say no when they want to try something.  And they meet new kids, and cement existing friendships.  We now have two afternoons free a week and I think for us, that's pretty good.  Don't talk to us on Tuesdays and Wednesdays though.  Unless you're at karate, swimming, gym, dance, sax lessons or tennis.

Champion Mum?  Not me I'm afraid.  

8. The pushy parent.  I have an issue with homework.  And sax practice.  And piano practice (except no-one's doing it this term).  It must be done.  Not negotiable.  And so far I haven't managed to sit back and let them fail and have to hand in incomplete work.  I know at some point I have to do this, let them suffer the consequences of not finishing or not remembering or just not caring.  But I can't.  So I harangue and harass, and get a bit shouty.

9.  Last of all, the slightly vague parent who talks too much.  Yep that's me.  So busy having a natter at the teeball game that I miss my son's fabulous hit.  So focused on talking to my husband at the beach I fail to notice Issy get tripped up by a wave while she's cleaning sand off her bucket (we were, embarrassingly not 3 metres from her).   And countless other failures.

I am always this one.  Poor kids.  Have you noticed all my examples are about Sarah?  Those poor oldest children do have to bear the brunt of our inexperience don't they?