Most days I wake up and think to myself that today is the day I will make a more concerted effort to enjoy my children. I’m acutely aware of how fast time is passing and I know that one day I will look back and long for these days when I am the centre of their universe and they want to spend every waking moment with me. Yet, even knowing that I will miss these days, sometimes (most times) it’s just so boring!
Even as I write this I feel a twist of apprehension in the pit of my stomach. It’s another one of those taboos we labour under as parents, that we should be reveling in all the things kid-related. It goes against the grain to say that actually, parenthood can be pretty dull and admitting that does not mean that we don’t love our children or find them captivating at times. It’s just that often, the daily grind of parenthood is just that…a grind!
Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when I am totally besotted with my children (usually when they are sleeping) and can’t get enough of their soft skin, fluffy hair and chubby little hands. But there are only so many times I can answer questions about dinosaurs, or clean up milk spilled on the carpet, and if I have to wipe a snotty nose just one more time…! Don’t even get me started on the humdrum of managing a household, our finances, the laundry!
I find myself on many occasions longing for their bedtime so that I can indulge in something I find stimulating or that rare night off when my husband and I can eat, sleep and talk uninterrupted. As delightful and hilarious as my children can be, sometimes I just need that little bit more, something that’s just for me and I don’t think that makes me a bad mother. In fact, I think it makes me a better mother. When I feel fulfilled, engaged and stimulated, I have so much more patience and energy to indulge my little people and their endless stream of chatter about Peppa Pig, T-rexs and unicorns. I also find myself calmer and better able to manage the toddler tantrums and sibling fights.
Not enjoying being with your children does not make you a bad parent. Before parenthood, we all had lives, personalities, and interests that did not involve little people, and let’s face it, little people are hard work! It can sometimes be like living with a tiny drunk person, fun 20% of the time but in need of constant monitoring and cleaning up after.
So if you’re feeling guilty about not reveling in all that parenthood brings, go easy on yourself. You’re still showing up every day and doing your best. As long as your children’s needs are being met and your needs are being met, that’s enough.