I am kind. I am considerate. I am thoughtful. I am loving. I know I am all these things yet after I tucked my eldest into bed tonight, I retreated into the bathroom, closed the door, sat down on the side of the bathtub and had a little cry. Mum-guilt had reared it's ugly head again.
I had a trying night where my eldest was testing my patience. Don't get me wrong, he's a really good kid, but he is head strong and stubborn, much like me.
Everyday I go through the motions of a being a "good mother".
I make school lunches. I drive them to appointments before and after school. I spend my weekends cooking and baking. I do the laundry, clean the house and I vacuum the car. I fold the clothes and cook homemade dinners every night. I tuck them in every night and tell them how much I love them.
I know I am a good mother in what I do for my children.
And yet I feel like an inadequate mother every day.
My eldest boy torments (in the nicest brotherly way possible) his younger brother incessantly, as older siblings often do. It drives me batty.
His defence is "I was just having fun with him" or "I was just playing with him..." or "I was just trying to make him laugh.."
What do I say to that? I honestly don't know. We have the same conversation every other day, and I am no closer to finding a solution to what to say to him, or what to do. I see where he is coming from, he's just being a kid.
I rouse at them. Neither pays me any attention until I get cranky. Then I separate them and send them to their rooms because it gives me space to calm down and process my thoughts.
This is when the feelings of the inadequacy of my parenting skills kicks in. I am feeling the mum-guilt. Self doubt. Wondering "Am I a good enough mother?"
I try to explain how their actions are wrong. Inconsiderate. Disrespectful. In doing so, I am making them feel guilty. I tell them I I am disappointed with their actions. And that what they are doing is not acceptable behaviour.
I realised that I was unknowingly instilling in my children the negative thoughts I have about myself. All the things I personally struggle with. Which is why I was so upset tonight.
I know how terrible it feels to feel like you have disappointed someone you love. How guilt eats you up from inside. And how hard it is to shake that feeling that you are not good enough as a person.
I told my eldest tonight that sometimes I don't know if I am doing a good job being a mother. And that I don't have instructions on what to do. To which he replied, "Does Daddy have some instructions?" Bless his little cotton socks, I wish he did. It would make things a lot easier.
I don't have any answers. But I do know I don't want my children to think they are not good enough. I just have to keep working at it.