parent opinion

"Today I became the mother I hoped I'd never be."

Today, I became the mother I hoped I’d never be.

My children were arguing; shouting and scratching at each other like wild creatures.  The noise built to fever pitch, and the pressure behind my eyes increased until it felt like I was being held in a vice.

I heard an unearthly voice screeching at my daughters, imploring them to stop.  Just stop!  I was horrified when I realised the person screaming like a banshee was me.

Utterly overwhelmed, I exited the house and hid on the front veranda, taking in the view, whilst tears poured silently down my face.  I tried to control breathing, inhaling and exhaling shakily until I felt the world come in to focus once more.

My mothering instincts took over and I turned to the front door, ear pressed to the glass, straining to hear.  For once, there was blessed silence.

After a few moments, I returned inside to be greeted with shocked, white faces.  Two pairs of round, bright blue eyes stared up at me, mute with apology.  Then they apologised verbally, little hands clinging at my clothes, begging for forgiveness.

My girls are well-behaved... most of the time.

I wanted to apologise too, for losing my temper and for scaring them.  But, as I went to open my mouth, I found myself resolutely closing it again.

Why should I apologise for yelling (or screeching) at two children who were behaving appallinglyI know it’s not necessarily an ideal form of communication, but although I am a mother, I am a human too.

I am a mother and a human being.  I am not immune to their bad behaviour. I do not have a never-ending well of patience and tolerance. I do get angry. I do get frustrated. I do feel suffocated and sometimes, I do feel quite alone.

Right now, the summer holidays feel long. My mind is constantly at war. On the good days, I revel in the sunshine. I enjoy the simplicity of our summer days, filled with beach swims, bubbles, barbecues and good times with friends. My heart warms at the sight of my children, dancing about the back yard, their hands sticky from icy treats.

I wouldn't change them for the world.

On the bad days, I find myself counting down the days until school goes back. Counting down the hours until my husband gets home. Shoving devices in to their hands, just so I can have a moment’s peace. Then guilt courses through my veins. Because I know how extraordinarily lucky I am.

I really need to give myself a break. I am doing my best. And my best is all my daughters will ever need.

It won’t do them any harm to see me stripped of my veneer of ‘Mum’. It will teach them that their behaviour, both positive and negative, can have a profound effect on those around them.

My tears remind my children that I’m not just the provider of food and entertainment. They remind my children that I’m human, just like them.

It is this perspective that makes me realise that perhaps, just perhaps, I am exactly the kind of mother I hoped I’d be.