I’m always second guessing my parenting. Sleep schedule or not. Timeout or not. Wash daily or not. After school club or not. Sweets or not. A million choices and a million ways I imagine that if I get it wrong it will permanently psychologically or physically harm the wellbeing of my charge.
I try to keep a lot of this fretting under the lid. Keep the crazy down. But it’s there simmering away. I know I’m hankering after perfection.
Perfection in itself is a laudable ambition. But expecting my parenting to always reach this standard and then produce perfection in my children is not only completely f-ing bonkers it’s the most stressful steaming heap of unnecessary crap I can pile on myself. The really horrible part though is the fear that failing will lead to delinquency, drugs and ultimately time in prison for my child.
I know I’m not the only one beating myself up after a bad day of shouting, too much Netflix, lack of washing or giving up on the vegetable war. I constantly worry the eldest is over scheduled, will rebel at some point and drop out of everything including school. Lately I think I may have seen signs the youngest has already started a gang at nursery and their progression onto the streets is just a matter of time. And I’m the cause of it.
Enter my Mumentor. A Mum friend I turn to in the storm of parenting… Mine’s called Kath. She has four boys. I have two. Most importantly her eldest, twins, are about six years older than my eldest. All her boys are awesome, fun, kind and you know, normal kids. I’ve seen them have pavement licking tantrums, ignore her, shout at her, hit her and hug and kiss her. I’ve seen them look after each other, care for the little ones and make time for others. Music, maths, drawing and sport they’ve each got their own strengths. They’re what I think is best described as ‘well rounded”. Last week her youngest threw cold tea over my eldest’s head – then smashed the mug on the floor. We laughed…
Kath’s not the perfect parent – far from it. She doesn’t even want to try to be. I’ve seen her shout, I’ve seen her do the ‘stare’, I’ve seen her ignore them and play with them. I’ve seen her feed them healthy food and plenty of crap food. I’ve never seen her hit them but she confessed there have been times she could have. Hearing that, knowing it was a normal feeling was a life saver! She describes herself as a “seat of my pants” kinda mum. I love her.
What my Mumentor does, is show me, with the actual scientific proof of her very much alive, healthy and doing well kids, that it’s going to be OK.
- She works – kids are fine.
- Her house is never tidy – it’s the warmest most friendly place, my kids and I love it there.
- She shouts – it doesn’t hurt for them to see you have a range of emotions – I believe her.
The list goes on… She’s my guru of cutting corners and picking the right battles.
The other week I forgot to order the school meals. I got THE NOTE from school telling me of my failings but didn’t actually read it for a few days. On realising my error I imagined my poor boy starving hungry watching his schoolmates stuff their faces – Oliver Twist style… “Naaa,” says Kath “I forget at least once a year and the kids quite like getting the school packed lunch.”
She’s honest with me and I get to be honest with her. There’s zero competition because she’s way too busy to be bothered with that bollox. We don’t pretend to have the same ideas and there’s been plenty of examples over the years where we’ve made different decisions for our kids. But equally I often happily follow in her footsteps content to know everything turned out alright in the end for her so, by the laws of statistics, should be good for me.
The very cool thing about my Mumentor is she has one of her own. Her’s is called Anne.
We highly recommend you get one for yourself.