On chaos and parenting ‘experts’

Some of my reflections after a particularly fraught morning a few months back….

Staying calm. Sometimes I ace this. Sometimes I suck. A multitude of factors can affect my ability to do this, and this morning I’m afraid I failed. Not in the epic way I sometimes do, but this morning felt tough. Now we’re back to school, the TV is off in the mornings, and the kids (and the puppy) were full of energy and ready to use it. The calmer the kids are the calmer the puppy is, so this morning was tough. Unsure who to reprimand first, I flailed around, predominantly trying to keep the 3 year old and the puppy in check (definitely the worst offenders!), but with the big kids adding to the mayhem as well.

I had resolved not to shout, and I succeeded here. When I could hear doors slamming, and the 3 year olds’ angry tears at being excluded by his siblings, I walked up the stairs and worked hard to keep my voice low and calm, and only respond to the most pressing issues. Which worked to an extent. No one got yelled at. The tears stopped. The right clothes were put on the right children. But inside I felt scrambled, slightly desperate, and acutely conscious that I was working against the clock, and that it could all go to pot at any second.

During these kind of mornings, there’s this oppressive ‘voice’ in my head. Perhaps a mother from one of the ‘how-to’ blogs I used to read. Who has established a morning routine, whose children calmly and cooperatively get on with getting ready for school. Who’ve got their shit together. When I haven’t. She’s an entirely unhelpful presence, but she always pops up when I’m feeling tired, vulnerable and a little out of control.

There were points when I reminded myself to breathe in, and breathe out, and tried to dredge up all the good advice my memory could grab in the moment….’you can’t change how they behave but you can change how you respond’ etc etc…..and it sort of helps. Although it sort of makes me feel (again) like there’s those out there who have got their shit together. When I haven’t; the people who come up with advice, whoever they are…

In the past, I’ve wondered if I am qualified to be one of those people…parenting is my world, professionally (where I frequently see the extremes of poor parenting) and personally (where parenting three small children is a messy, joyful and sometimes fraught affair). But I couldn’t. I couldn’t be that person. I don’t want to be a ‘guru’, full of great insight but also prescriptive and oppressive in parents’ minds when they are at their wits end, and when the last thing they need is someone telling them how they could be doing it better. Because what makes parenting easier, is when you feel calm. And that’s a tricky one. When its all combusting around you…. So instead, I share. That’s what I can offer. A reminder that someone else gets that its tough. Gets that we all struggle, and feel slightly mental from time to time. And (on the good days) accepts that that’s ok. It’s the reality of parenting.

2 thoughts on “On chaos and parenting ‘experts’

  1. Oh, I know that voice so well. She’s loves to chide me on my very worst days or at my very lowest moments. I think that one of the few downsides of the blogging world is that we sometimes only see the perfect face that some bloggers choose to present to the outside world and it can make the rest of us feel inadequate. That’s why I’m all about the moms and dads who struggle, who sometimes eat a cookie for breakfast or let their kids watch too much TV from time to time. :)

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my essay at HuffPost!

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