I haven’t felt like writing this week, not because of the fact that I didn’t have anything to say, perhaps because I just wasn’t sure exactly how to say it? I guess if I’m honest with myself, I have been struggling with things. My parents are away (again!) and whilst every day is difficult at the best of times, more so this week as the lurgy has struck me down, Megans behaviour has become increasingly difficult to handle.
As a Mummy of four, I can handle a lot of things. I can handle endless dirty nappies each day, mopping up spillages, breakages, bloody knees. I can handle Frozen playing on repeat, twenty seven games of Hungry Hippos in succession, the relentless witter, pointless questions and the repetitive scream of, “Mummy!”. I can handle the constant demands for juice, food, cuddles and Peppa Pig, the incessant whining, griping, bickering amongst the youngest three. I can handle teething, germs, snot and vomit and the countless school runs, nursery drop-offs or general taxi-man to the eldest. But I’ll be honest with you, if there is one thing that I cannot handle it is the sound of my youngest daughters screeching on repeat, for several hours solid, day in, day out. I defy anyone to handle that.
And it’s not even just a cry, it is far more animalistic than that. It’s a shrill, grating, torturous sound that genuinely hurts my ears, rattles my brain and makes my blood pressure soar. And as much as I try and remain calm, remember all of the parenting techinques that I have read about, heard about or watched on Super Nanny, when that screech penetrates my brain I lose all sense of sanity, and it is impossible to think straight. Because anyone who has had the misfortune of hearing that racket will tell you that for the ten minutes, half an hour, even several hours of listening to it, it physically and mentally drains you. And most people can’t wait to get away from it quick enough!
Usually when it starts, when it reaches the point of no return, when she is thrashing and screaming and lashing out, there is no amount of reasoning that will cause her to stop. No amount of stern talking, sweet-talking, soft talking or gentle hugs, no amount of positive reinforcement, offers of rewards or even out-right bribery will stop that level of screeching. And I am the first to hold my hands up and tell you that when that happens, when this continues to happen on a daily basis, I completely and utterly Lose My Shit.
I have been guilty this week of feeling like the Worlds Worst Mummy. Every morning I get up and promise myself that I will find the patience to endure another day of screaming. And despite trying my hardest to ignore her tantrums, to remove myself from the room entirely, to place my hands over my ears and wish that she would just stop crying for one minute, I have still found myself losing the plot entirely and screaming at her like a demented banshee, “Megan! You are a naughty girl!!!”.
And despite the look on her face, the absolute shock and devastation at seeing the angry look on mine, I can’t bring myself to tell her that it’s okay as she lays down and kicks and screams some more. I can’t push away the resentment inside that yet again she has driven me to such levels of insanity, that another day has passed where she has shown me up with her behaviour in public, made us pack up and leave a social situation, change our plans and cause me to cry silent tears on the drive home with her…still screaming in the back. And as she lies there with her fog horn like cry, I just want to pack a bag, close the door and leave it all behind.
And later, when she has exhausted herself, when her eyes are puffy and her face swollen with angry tears, when she has screamed herself hoarse and there is no fight left in her, I scoop her up onto my knee and bury my face in her damp hair and I tell her, I beg her, “Please be a good girl for Mummy”. And I sit there and I question not only her sanity, but mine too.
And later, when she is tucked up in bed, her beautiful little face so restful, her pouty little lips parted ever so slightly, making the most perfect little snore, I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek and I tell myself that tomorrow, I will be a better Mummy.
Because sometimes, I forget. When she is kicking and screaming and headbutting the floor, I forget that she has frustrations just the same way that I do. I forget that she has her own battles in her own little head that she too is fighting every single day.
When she throws her food across the table, spits out her tea, kicks her chair back and launches her bowl across the table because I have given her a blue bowl instead of the purple one, I forget how important these things are to her. I forget how much it means to her to have the colour bowl that she really needs that day.
When she cries at 4am for the Ipad, for Team UmiZumi or Peppa Pig, when she wakes up the whole household with her relentless screams, I forget just how much she needs that programme right there and then, how much she needs that reassurance, that cuddle, that drink of juice, for whatever reason.
When she hits Eva for playing with her Anna doll, pulls her hair and pushes her over for touching her toys, I forget that she genuinely believes that she is Anna, that she is indeed that plastic doll wearing that dress, that her sister has somehow stolen her identity in touching a doll that she swears beyond reason is she, Megan. I forget that her toys are so precious to her, that although it doesn’t seem like a big deal to us, it means the whole world to her.
When she goes ballistic because a sheep has looked at her the wrong way (true story!), kicking her little legs and screaming blue murder, I forget that, in that moment, this feels like the worst thing that could happen in her day.
When she hears a loud noise and covers up her ears, her pretty little face scrunching up in distress, I forget that to her, the noise is deafening.
But most of all I forget that she is not a naughty girl, and it is something that I say wrongly and far too often in anger. She is a sweet, beautiful, affectionate and intelligent individual who at times gets frustrated, tired or angry just like the rest of us. Sometimes it is so easy to focus on the negatives, to allow these tantrums and these cries to wear me down until ultimately, I forget that there are so many wonderful things about her that make her exactly who she is, Our Meggy.
And I am so sorry for the times that I have let her down this last week, for forgetting that she is still just a baby, for failing her in my parenting. Because sometimes, when I am tired, or poorly, or feeling low, she forgets that I too get frustrated, impatient and make mistakes. I too am learning along the way, trying my hardest to find a way to be a Mummy to a child who, although I love with all my heart and soul, pushes me to my very limits and is a constant challenge, every single day.
I love this quote that I stumbled across this week, a little reminder that, not only made me smile, but gave me a much needed boost. I might not be the most perfect Mummy, but very few of us are.