There is a wonderful post at PhD in Parenting about short term vs long term parenting. I try very hard to parent for the long term (although it took this article for me to be able to express it clearly), but am far more understanding of short term parenting techniques (eg. food bribes, TV babysitters etc. etc.) since I have been a mother.
I realised recently that I have developed a split personality.
Bad mummy wakes up in the morning exhausted, barely keeps her eyes open while multitasking on the computer through breakfast and says “in a minute” often enough for the small one to have started repeating it back at her. Her back hurts but she hasn’t got the energy to take her painkillers, and she sneaks away from important brick tower building sessions to find button-fronted dresses for breastfeeding.
At night, she recites Giraffes Can’t Dance from memory without showing the pictures and stands by the cot rocking grumpily when the small one uses kisses and “Love you Mummy”s to avoid going back to sleep. She slumps down the stairs exhausted when the gorgeous child who hasn’t had her full attention all day finally falls asleep, far too late, and stares at her laptop praying for motivation and inspiration to finish the things she half started during the day, ignoring Daddy, who has been hibernating on the computer since dinner. She falls into bed in the early hours of the morning having made little progress.
Good mummy wakes up bright and early, snuggles and giggles with the small one before bumping down the stairs for breakfast. She sits opposite her at the table and they load the washing machine as a team and do some drawing or painting. The small one, chirpy from actually eating her breakfast drags her outside to water plants and look at bugs in the garden. Good mummy remembers mid-morning snacks and they make lunch together, the small one measuring pasta into the pan.
They decide to go to the park after lunch and, when it starts to rain, they go out anyway and splash in puddles. After a quick stop at the nice garage where the man shows her the cars on ramps, the small one is exhausted and sleeps for nearly 2 hours, when good mummy manages coffee, a snack and a very productive time updating a breastfeeding clothing website. Daddy comes home and, delighted by the bright, happy child that greets him, entertains her while cooking dinner.
Good mummy clears up a bit and they catch up on their day. They eat as a family and the small one has a bath. She’s sleepy early and good mummy waits with her while she settles in bed.
What I realised today, is that every single week, good mummy is the one who creates my Silent Sunday moments – the things that made my week special. Sometimes she doesn’t achieve the things she thinks she should, but she rarely feels bad at the end of the day.