Hands up if you have ever felt like the shittest mother ever. Like you are doing your kids a disservice just because they have been unlucky enough to land you as their mum. As you all know, I have four kids, 2 sets of twins aged 3 & 8. My sole purpose in life as a SAHM besides cleaning, washing, dusting, cooking etc is making sure that I fill up the emotional cups of all my kids & keep them as full as possible. As a sufferer of anxiety, I have the tendency to overthink every situation & catastrophise everything in my head. I have visions of angry teenagers hating me because I haven’t paid them enough attention or becoming drug addicts because they feel they didn’t get enough love from me. Especially with the older two because I have had to focus a lot of my attention on the younger twins. Especially when they were babies.
Anyone who knows me would know I am quite affectionate with my kids & they are all quite clingy. I always have kids sitting on me, holding my hands, following me to the toilet, shower etc. I try to have some alone time with each child weekly & take both of the older two to their weekly activities just myself & them. When you have twins it easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that their needs are the same but they are individuals, just the same as siblings of different ages. My older set of twins are like chalk & cheese & fight like cat & dog. Their needs are definitely very different. One twin is very needy & requires lots of attention, affection, hugs etc but given that there are 3 other kids in the family, it isn’t always possible to meet these needs. My 3 year olds are not yet toilet trained so there are nappies to be changed, they still need to be dressed & supervised in the bath along with the long list of wants & demands that seem to accompany 3 year olds, (oh & have I mentioned that even after weeks and weeks on end of sleep training, they still want to sleep with us every night & I spend a lot of time walking them back to bed & then myself back to my bed. I am seriously thinking of buying a king size bed just to have a full night’s sleep). As these needs are not met of the older twin, the behaviour of this child starts to go downhill, swearing, teasing of siblings, disobedience & just outright behaving like a little shit & upsetting everyone. This behaviour makes me angry & the last thing I then feel like doing is showing this child all the affection that is requested and required but it then becomes a vicious cycle because as I pull back the behaviour gets worse. It almost feels counter intuitive to be offering cuddles to a child who has just upset the whole household & has all siblings in tears & mummy trying her absolute hardest to keep her temper in check. If I’m completely honest, sometimes I just feel like telling everyone to f**k off & driving off into the sunset, with my music blaring whilst singing at the top of my lungs. There is something therapeutic about having a boogie & belting out a tune at the top of your lungs. Many a driver on the Hume Hwy has given me a strange look as I drive down the freeway listening to my feel good song 24K Magic by Bruno Mars, how can you be upset with such a good song blaring??.
Anyway, we had an incident in our house this week involving this child that had me questioning my parenting skills & feeling like the worst mother ever. Like I had created the situation due to my lack of parenting skills & let me tell you I felt like absolute shit & the world’s crappest Mum. Disciplining children doesn’t come naturally to me so I tend to be a bit soft & my kids know it & one in particular takes advantage of the situation. In saying that though, I receive nothing but glowing reports about this child from people outside of the family. The school principal, school teacher, sports coach & friends parents are always telling me what exceptional manners are displayed & politeness (I am a manners nazi) which makes me very proud because I know the behaviour outside of our home is great but what am I doing wrong at home??. In saying that though, all the members of our extended family have witnessed the same appalling behaviour, not just my husband & I.
I have studied The Circle of Security & I know that when kids are tired, overwhelmed, confused etc they hand these emotions to their parents & want them to help to them to organise these emotions & comfort them & make them feel safe, secure & loved. It breaks my heart that one of my kids may be feeling as though they are not loved or valued. I would give my life for my kids, no questions asked. I was at such a loss that I rang a helpline called Parent-line & explained my situation to the person on the phone. It was good to speak to someone objective & she also thought that grief could also be involved in the bad behaviour, she also offered some advice on how to deal with the tantrums & the bad behaviour but it didn’t really sit right with me & my own personal beliefs. All four of my kids were so close to my mum however only the older two are old enough to understand the situation & the permanence of it. It hasn’t even been a year yet since my mum passed & we are all hurting. My husband was also close to my mum. He lost his own beautiful mother 13 years ago & thought of my mum as a substitute mum so as you can imagine her absence has affected us all greatly. I don’t doubt that the child in question is hurting over the loss of their beloved nanny. I also spoke to another family member who told me in the nicest way possible that this child gets away with way too much & needs a foot up the arse (figuratively not literally) & to be punished. I tended to agree, as opposed to some other advice I had received. I was really at a loss as to how I should handle the situation hence my asking advice from different parties. We decided that we would ground for a week & take away other privileges such as the iPad, scooter etc & sat down & had a very detailed chat about what behaviour would not be acceptable in our house & if it continued we would continue to remove privileges. All family members are to be treated with love & respect. We also explained that we were always there to talk to, whether it was sadness about nanny, something going on at school or whatever was causing upset & never to be afraid to tell us anything. The last two days this child has been the most well spoken & respectful child in the house. I think the setting of very clear boundaries is what was needed in this situation. Fingers x this continues to work…..