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’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:
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.