(Self) Examination Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids Thunderstorm days

My kids don’t think I’m great anymore

May 20, 2014

A few days ago, I hit an all-time low in my SAHM-hood. I was inconsolable (and still am now) and had to mope around for a couple of days before bracing myself to write this post.

It all started with this book:

I love my Mummy

I’ve read this book to the kids like what, more than 10 times at least, since we had it and the children enjoy the pictures and the heartwarming story in this book by Giles Andreae about all the reasons why the little boy loves his mummy.

The book ends with this, and usually, we’d end our reading of this story with a big group hug and the kids telling me how much they love me:

I love my Mummy_ending

Until a few nights ago when the kids told me, after the story ended, (and I quote Ben and Becks) that their mummy “is not that great” because “she canes us and shouts at us” and that their mummy is more “lousy” than the mummy in the book who is “so fun” to play with.

When I asked them to explain further and asked if their mommy caned and scolded them for no reason (I spoke as the third person), they said, “Our mummy cane us because we are naughty. But why must she do that? Just tell us nicely lah!”

And even after explaining that it’s a mummy’s role to discipline her children – and even the Bible says that sometimes we need to use the rod to chase foolishness away from a child – they still believed that kind of mummy is “not a good mummy”, not like the one in the book we read so often.

After being exasperated for a while, instead of breaking down as I should with tears already welling up in my eyes, I threw a big adult tantrum, told them to go to bed and to find another mummy. I hinted that I may go back to full-time work afterall, because it seemed like my being around them was not appreciated.

Both of them looked at me, with their eyes wide open, and asked me where they can buy a new mummy. Becks also asked if I could go back to work and hire more aunties to take care of them instead.

***

Quite a blow for the stay-home mum ego, isn’t it? Needless to say, I was horribly shaken by what the kids talked about, and what they could conceive in their minds – that they actually wanted to buy a new mum or even entertained the thought of getting others to replace their mum. At that moment I felt that my two years of sacrifice of staying home has all been for nought. Clearly, they are taking the mum presence for granted; they are seeing me around too much to be actually feeling some tinges of contempt that come with familiarity. I mean, if I were working full time, we’d probably treasure those few hours of seeing one another after a day’s work a lot more. I’ll probably scold them less, let them get away with a lot more things, and make the helper clean up after them more often than not.

Because of the fact that I’ve stayed home, and the recent episode of being maid-less for almost three weeks, they’re witnessing before their eyes how their own mother handles stress and adjusts to the unpredictable situations that life throws our way (which isn’t the best, of course); plus the fact that they are at the age where child-training has to take place so that they learn to be independent, I also tend to do more nagging and scolding than praising and encouraging (which is entirely the way I’ve been wired).

And have you seen the way the kids just complete ignore me whenever I give instructions like “Pack up your toys”, “Don’t litter Lego blocks on the floor”, “Please wear your shoes and get ready to go” and I get at least a whole ten minutes of lag time? Which is TOTALLY ANNOYING. I don’t know what else to do but to raise my voice and holler so that I can get things going.

So the kids think this is totally uncool and that Mama is lousy compared to the storybook mum who probably never yells at her kiddo and always smothers him with cuddles.

***

So, as I was saying, I moped around for some time before finally sitting down to write this. I did a lot of thinking after hearing what the kids said to me. It’s true, motherhood really sometimes brings out the worst in me. I scare myself on those days when I lose it; and I probably would never know this awful side of me if I hadn’t stayed home. It makes me wonder if this is all worth it. I could take the easy way out, spoil them silly and just leave the care-giving to full-day daycare. I mean, that is SO doable. I tell you, working (where I previously came from) is definitely much easier than being home with three young children. Why am I doing this, having to show my worst to the kids on crazy days where there’s chores to be done, disobedient children screaming the house down, tantrums to handle, crayons littering the floor, urine stains on the toilet bowl and toilet paper stuffed in every visible corner in the house?

What’s the point?

Of course, it is also silly to take the things that a five-year-old and four-year-old say too seriously. Why, they are children, and they’d say the darndest anyway. The adult at the receiving end should be bigger, in every sense of the word, and be the bigger, better person in handling the “feedback” and be tough enough to soldier on. Afterall, these are the things a mother has to bear.

***

The kids have assured me that they still love me, and Ben has, through tears, told me that he wants me to stay home still. He seems to fear that I might chuck him in childcare and never caring for him ever again; and I am mindful not to say things that would scar him. Becks still wants me to go back to work, because that to her will solve the “Mama has no money” problem, and so she says, which means I can buy her lots of things to eat and stuffed toys to play with, something which her present thrifty stay-home mother does not indulge her in.

I guess it’s still onward with this stay-home journey, albeit with a little discouragement. I’m choosing to believe that I can try to be a nicer person when stress gets in my way and that the kids were probably stressed out too the past three weeks of us being without live-help such that they don’t like the mother that has become the horrible-always-barking-Mom-maid that they are seeing.

It must have been also tough for them to have to put up with me the past weeks.

At least, I am still loved. Even though I am horrible.

Stay home mom motivator

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30 Comments

  • Reply Ing May 22, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    Just read through this. I’d like to say, I can so identify with what you’ve shared. I’m into my 4th year at home with the 3 kids. There are good days when all I feel is bliss. There are also bad days when I feel like I’m the worst mother on earth. I’ve lost count the number of times I wanted to just run away. Anyway, just want to say, you’re not alone. Kids usually say what they feel at the moment. It’s not permanent.

    • Reply MotherKao May 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      I feel you about the run away part. 4 years is a long time to stay home! I’m amazed at how you are so organised and can plan so many learning activities with your children. Supermommy salute!

  • Reply Eileen May 21, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    Big hugz!! Pat..pat,.. U r a GREAT mum! Ur post bring a lot emotion in me.. We did a lot “sacrifices” for our children but being taken for granted, n even say darndest things, it hurts :_( I feel u.
    I m stubborn ass, my husband always ask me let go….take some ME time to relax n recharge.. I haven’t been to saloon or friend catch up for years, not to mention couple time. Everyday is ferrying kids, rushing home to cook 3 dish 1 soup, cut their apples on table, make sure they eat, drink their water, shower, do their homework, read their book, nightly prayer, make sure they SLEEP on time.. in between breaking fights, tantrums, listen to their complains, endless questions, dilly dally,… Haiz… Over time, our patience runs thin, threshold build up.. I lost it all the time :(. We need relax abit.. Let go n let God. There’s therefore now no condemnation for we r in Christ, we are the righteousness of God in Christ, remember? :) God bless u richly abundantly above all u ask. Amen!

    • Reply MotherKao May 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Thanks for your encouragement, Eileen! Yes, NO CONDEMNATION. That’s something we have to keep confessing with so much mommy guilt floating around on bad days. You’re a super mommy too, and let’s soldier on together!

  • Reply Sue May 21, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    I agree with you. I do think that stay-at-home mothers have more on their plates than working mothers (coming from a FTWM). When my toddler was down HFMD and I had to mind him for a good 10 days, I couldn’t help but think of his infantcare teachers and just felt really indebted to them.

    I think you’re doing a fabulous job – I mean, I have two kids and I’m already struggling. I’ve been mostly a silent reader but I really admire how you lay out the real picture in your posts – the good, the bad and the ugly. :)

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      Thanks for being my silent reader, Sue. I totally understand the indebtedness you feel towards your son’s infantcare teachers! When the kids were in infantcare, I too, was amazed at how patient and loving and forever cheerful the teachers are. On the other hand, I would have bitten off heads and snarled the whole day. Not easy, especially when the child is sick.

      Thanks for your encouragement! And hope all is well with the pretty princess and little boy! :)

  • Reply SengkangBabies May 21, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    If we ask kids to rate our KPI< most parents (those who are fierce, cane, stern) will get an "F" immediate failure!

    Kudos to my Mrs at home too, since becoming a Fulltime homemaker, I have seen her scream more frequently. She is taking everything in her stride, not easy, especially when kids one-ear-in, one-ear-out. (my 11 year old too haha)

    If you need someone to complain to, she is always a phone away :p
    Keep up the good work !

    cheers, Andy
    SengkangBabies

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      Andy, I salute your wife. Truly! She has 4 to handle, and we’re not talking about 4 girls but 3 boys and a very active Boon Xin whom I have met on many occasions! (She’s lovely, give her a hug for me, won’t you?) Amazing how she can take things in her stride. She should also go start a blog, and share her survival tips of staying home with four children!

  • Reply Christy May 21, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    Oh, working mums don’t have it easier too. At least that’s for me. I do feel you in your post! I throw adult tantrums too especially after a tiring day at work. I often feel so guilty after that and thought I could do better. But come the next day, it happens again. I come to realize it’s fatigue and lack of sleep that cause the snapping and outbursts. On days I am well rested, I am able to handle the worst. I don’t think I am a good mummy too. But we are mums and we all have our kids’ interest at heart. And the kids know.

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      Agree that rest is so important, Christy. Sometimes I am guilty of not resting enough and giving my kids hell all because I want to catch up on my favourite programmes. Such a dilemma: I need to unwind and I don’t want to sleep because it’s been a tough day = I don’t get rest = the children and I face-off at battles throughout the day = I need to unwind and I don’t want to go to sleep just yet… VICIOUS CYCLE!

      I hope the kids know – that we’re humans too and doing our best every day, or at least try to!

  • Reply Pohling May 20, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    hiyee!! hang in there! I m oso a sahm. And add to that, my hubby is based in hk so he gets to see the kids on weekends only. And maybe because of that, he showered the kids with more love and give in more. And now that makes me a “bad” mummy in the eyes of my 2.5yo son (i have a 6.5mo son.. haha he’s too young to be rebellious). So to my elder son, the daddy is always the best cause he plays with him (i cant afford to play too much with my elder son as i iso need to tend to my younger son).
    Hence i get to hear comments like “i want daddy.”, “i don’t want mummy. Mummy go away”… N the latest is “i don’t want daddy to work. Mummy goes to work earn money (cause i told him no work no money. So he wants the cake n eat it too)”.
    Haha so i can totally empathise what u gg thru. Sighz no choice, i can’t trust my kids to be taken care of by helpers.. so here i am. I guess is motherhood.. never easy. Juz shoulder on..!! 加油!!

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:43 PM

      Pohling, I can’t imagine solo parenting on weekdays! The only thing that keeps me going on tough days is the thought that I can unload when husband comes back. Totally understand about the good cop/bad cop thing, especially when the man of the house is rarely home. Thankfully for us, we try to share the bad cop load although I seem to undertake more bad cop duties.

      Agree that we should just JIAYOU! You too! :-)

  • Reply Serene Seah May 20, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    Big big hugs ! I am going through somewhat almost similar to what you went through. To the extent I told Xax that he may want to look for a new mummy since what I can do is to just snap at him when things are not done after the third call.
    I felt so taken for granted ! To the extent I felt like just leaving the hse.
    Still they are quite young, dont take it too hard on urself. Remind urself to practise prange rhino if it could be made possible. (Though I lose my cool alot of times) A better tmr !

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:41 PM

      Hey Serene, totally feel you about leaving the house! Sometimes I even want to type resignation letter, throw it at the kids and say, “I QUIT!”. Lol, the extent of mummy tantrums! Orange rhino doesn’t really work now for me; am TOO pent up I need to holler to feel better. Sometimes I scream into the pillow and clench my fists and do the silent groan.

      Yes! A better tomorrow! Can’t get any worse!

  • Reply dianaruth May 20, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    I am guilty of the ‘i’d rather go back to work’ part too. Except i dun hint, i shouted it out and immediately regretted it. Like u i struggle sometimes and disciplines the kids when i need to. I am also reflecting on my influence at home. I am working on my temperament. Sometimes, i need to imagine they are not my kids, else i may explode more. Jia you jia you! We all jia you together!

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:37 PM

      Heh, Diana, on bad days, I also do what you do – threaten the kids that I’ll chuck them in childcare and go back to work! Agree we all need to work on ourselves! JIAYOU too!

  • Reply Ally May 20, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Whatever you wrote, some are so familiar. Except, I am still working and they are in the childcare. Sometimes, kids love to say things which they think they are right, but do take it as feedback. I still remembered I used to dislike my own mom so much, it is only when I got married that I appreciated my mother and the pains she had to suffer for scolding/punishing me when I was young. The ultimate goal for her was to make sure I grew up safe, good and useful, fending for myself. They will know someday that mothers are the best! Keep it up, don’t feel unmotivated!

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:35 PM

      Awww, thanks, Ally. Like I mentioned, I hit an all-time low, and so it shouldn’t be getting any worse, right? I think we all learn to appreciate our parents when we become parents – but when we are parents, we’re wondering “What does it take for my child to appreciate me?” Haha. Paradox of parenting.

  • Reply Adeline May 20, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Parenting has a really steep learning curve, and I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing every day. I think it’s tougher for us because we are kinda used to having the kids in school do whatever we tell them to do most of the time, so when our own kids don’t, it drives us nuts. Now that you’ve got a capable helper, there’s less stress over the mundane chores, ya? I think you’ve been doing such a wonderful job with your kids, and I’m sure they will see it when they are older. Hugs.

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      Thanks, Adeline. Totally agree with the steep learning curve. I think it’s so steep I might be falling more than trying to climb it! With every kid, there are different temperaments, different needs, different personalities. It’s just so steep to be learning and relearning all the time! *pant pant*

  • Reply Mummy Ed May 20, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    I like what Madeline said – we are all just trying our best! This motherhood thing certainly isn’t panning out to be as easy as I imagined. Too bad I only realised too late 😀

    • Reply MotherKao May 21, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      Truth be told, Mummy Ed, some days I don’t give it my best shot at all. I feel so tired, and I suspect it’s the accumulated fatigue from staying home. And I’m only in my 2nd year! I don’t know how some moms do it for so so long!

  • Reply Madeline Heng May 20, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Love your last line. I work full time and I still get the “I don’t like you mummy, I like nai nai” stuff. Ah well, you can’t win. Press on! We are all just trying our best :)

    • Reply MotherKao May 20, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      I once read that our job as parents is not to make happy children. That would be a big mistake. Our job is to train them in the ways they should go and to nurture them. Thanks for your encouragement, we’re all soldiering on!

  • Reply Angie.S May 20, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Your post struck a chord in me. If Dana has the courage to articulate what she really thinks inside, she would say I’m a horrible stepmother too. I can’t craft, can’t sing, can’t sew, can’t play the piano, full of mood swings and ain’t fun to play with at all. Once, I forgot the context of the conversation, she read the word “divorce” from a book and asked me what it meant. I told her it meant a married couple go separate ways. She then asked, “what about the children?” I told her, “they’ll have to choose who to go with”. Almost without hesitation, she added, “if I choose, I’ll pick Daddy…” My heart was crushed that day…but to a child, they are v simplistic. I’ve learnt not to read too much into words spoken at the spur of the moment. Many times, I’ve been humbled when I realized that despite our shortcomings, they (our hubbies and kids) still love us. It’s a tough patch but touch times don’t last, tough people do. Let’s Jia You together with God’s grace Liz!

    • Reply MotherKao May 20, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      Thanks for sharing, Angie. It’s tough to have to handle all these expectations and emotions – both on the kid’s part and our own. Yes, by the grace of God to make it through this journey! :-)

  • Reply Jac May 20, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Hugs. I can some what imagine the hurt. I’m not a SAHM, but the day my boy told me he doesn’t love me just because he wants to go to his GuMa place, my heart was bleeding. Think he love his GuMa more as she doesn’t scold him and often give him sweets to eat. I think it’s far more worst for you as you gave up your job to take care of them only to get such return.
    But I guess kids at this stage weigh us by material returns and all. They wouldn’t really appreciate all that we have done until they are much older. Maybe when they become parents.
    So *hugs*!

    • Reply MotherKao May 20, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      That’s too long to wait, Jac. I need a lot of assurance now that I’m staying home, haha. I guess I can’t look to the kids for that but to God and from the husband. Hugs to you too; not easy to be a full time working mom and handing the caregiving to someone else who has to share that affection with you.

  • Reply Rachel May 20, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Aww…hugs to your Liz! I totally can relate to this, as recently I am going through one of the toughest period of mummy hood, i.e, to be the only parent. The boy is losing patience with me nagging and reprimanding, and I am losing patience with his lack of initiative and motivation. He probably thinks I am the most horrible mommy ever too at this moment. I just show a mummy tantrum this morning too, shouted, “I don’t want to care anymore, you can be late and not do your work for all I care!” and the boy burst into tears. Yeah, horrible mommy to the max.

    We will probably get more of this as the kids enter their pre-teens…and then teenage years (horrors). So my best advise, from one horrible mommy to a not-always-so-nice mommy, tomorrow will surely be a better day.

    • Reply MotherKao May 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      I shudder to think what awaits me in their tween and teen years! But ah well, like you said, tomorrow will surely be a better day, yes, Rach!

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