If you’re anything like me, you had some grand visions of what you would be like as a mother. Oh, the things you would teach! The life lessons you would impart with a smile! People who passed you on the street would smile approvingly at your Mary Poppins-like ways. Me too. How’s that going?
However you play it, day to day with children isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. Here are some things that Earth-Mother-Me would have loved doing with her children, but it turned out Real-Me didn’t…
I blame Instagram and the proliferation of homesteading and cooking blogs for my delusions here. I quite enjoy cooking. I used to love it, but I think these days I’m a bit too worn out to muster up that level of passion. And lack of time and energy is the enemy when it comes to cooking with kids. Also, you know the old adage – too many cooks spoil the broth? There’s a reason for that. At our place, we’ve changed it a bit – too many cooks fight over who gets to lick the beaters.
2. Family mealtimes
A meaningful time of family closeness and connection, when we will grow more in tune with each other! We will nourish our bodies with well-balanced meals I have thoughtfully prepared, nourish our minds with stimulating conversation, and teach table manners in a fun (but consistent!) way.
I know. Stop laughing. It’s like I’d never even met a young child, let alone put a bunch of them together at the hardest end of the day. No really, stop laughing. My mum assures me that it will one day get better.
3. Doing their hair
Yes, like you, I too have spent more time than I care to admit looking at Instagram and Pinterest pages full of five funky hairstyles for your tween daughter. Conservatively, I estimate that I have “done hair” more than 3000 times over the last eight years. I can think of exactly two instances where the stars aligned and we had time, inclination and enough spray on conditioner for it to be a fun experience for all involved.
But I have to admit, I’m still holding out hope for this one.
4. Early readers
I love reading. In fact, I love words so much that they formed the basis of my university studies, and now, my job. Surely I would enjoy being right in the thick of it as my own children learn to read? Let me answer that question with another question: When was the last time you read an early reader? Here is an excerpt from one I just found on the floor:
Look at the fish. Look at the tank. Look at the plant. Look at the octopus.
I’ve done early readers with kids who caught on quickly and loved it, and with those who didn’t, and didn’t. Here is my life lesson from that: nobody should be allowed to learn to read until they already know how to.
5. Sticker books
My daughters love sticker books. So do I, and therein lies the problem: they don’t stick things in the right places, and I can’t really cope. It’s kind of alarming how this has awoken the obsessive-compulsive in me. It’s all I can do not to redo the offending stickers after they’ve gone to bed at night. Have I actually stooped to this level? No comment.
6. Going for walks around the neighbourhood
I have dear, treasured memories from when I was young of going for long walks with my Nanna. She used to take me around the neighbourhood and we would collect things we found on our travels (interesting leaves and flowers, mainly). Then we would come home and make prized artworks out of them.
Of course, with my own children I’d do that too! What a beautiful vignette of childhood that scene would make. Except when we do it, there’s much less of the wondering at the beauty of creation, and far more of the whinging that legs hurt, that the hill is too steep (it isn’t) and wondering at how much further it will be until we get home. Also, sometimes they go out of their way to step on lizards, which makes me feel a bit ill.
7. Pushing them on swings
To be fair, I’ve never been a person who’s good with monotonous, repetitive activity (like exercising). Pushing kids on swings is the most repetitive, boring job I’ve ever had to do in a public space. It takes two hands, so you can’t even play Candy Crush while you’re doing it. And you’re at the beck and call of a tiny thrill-seeking dictator – “Higher! Higher!” – who refuses to entertain the possibility that “five more pushes” will ever be enough.
What about you? What did you think you would love doing as a parent that turned out to be less awesome in real life?