In a day’s time, I’d be celebrating being a mom for 5 years.
5 ‘fabu-freakin’ years, mainly made up of fabulous first year aww-look-at-that! moments, enough to warrant spending a few grand just to throw a first year celebration, coupled with four years of what-the-f-did-he-just-do moments…also enough to warrant staying up all night just to complete a simple, customized backdrop of his favourite cartoon’s cityscape with a ‘5’ because printing a backdrop is overrated (I kid, I kid!), and also to feel good that I actually acquired some DIY skills after attending years of playnest, playclub and the occassional art classes.
Truth is, it wasn’t till my outburst at my almost-5-year-old Liam earlier, that I had to run into the shower shortly after just so I could burst into tears without being heard.
After 5 years of being the very role I used to desperately dream about and hopelessly pray for, I was starting to dislike the product that I was becoming – a mom who was not only second guessing her way through motherhood, but often unsure, fickle and temperamental. I was becoming the mom I would have “tsk” at 6 years back, at the sight of shoving my kids an iPad each just so that I could have 20 minutes of adult time all to myself, or spontaneously buying my kids french fries only because I felt like having some. My husband was probably right to label me “self-serving” few weeks back in an unintended exchange of words, which led to a 4-day cold war between us.
While changing Liam up after his bath earlier and terribly annoyed that he wouldn’t listen to me to STOP running about, mainly because he barely recovered from a 2-day fever and vomiting episode just this morning, one which worried me till no end, I uttered spiteful words in my un-motherly state of mind.
“Do you know how exhausting it is to be a mom? Do you know how much easier it is just to end my life? I’ve thought about it before. Maybe when mama dies, then you will start to appreciate the things I do.”
“I’m sorry mama, for making you angry”, he apologized, this time putting in more sincerity with tears streaming down his skinny cheeks.
“You think I like to yell at you? I hate it. But when I talk nicely to you, again and again, you don’t listen. You continue doing the things I ask you not to do. So what do I end up doing? I resort to yelling, just so you will stop and listen. But you know what? The day I stop yelling or talking altogether, is the day I stop caring. And then I’d just stay out, work late, hang out somewhere else and not come home till very late, because I’ve had enough. Enough of all this. And maybe the day you’re truly apologetic and want to say sorry, I’ll be in my casket. I won’t even be alive to hear anything you say.”
I left him to sob into his pillow.
“Please like me. Please like me. Please love me. Please like me”, he started to scream out in between sobs.
I knew I hit a nerve.
My 5-year-old understood what I had just uttered. While part of me felt like I had failed yet again at this parenting gig by succumbing to “emotional blackmail” regardless how desperate I was to get my point across, part of me just wanted to let it all out – the anger, the tears, the frustrations, the exhaustion, the sadness and the reality.
A longer-than-usual, warm shower helped calm the mind.
“Mama, come and lie down with me…please”, Liam plea. Ollie followed suit and went “mama…come…plissss?” before pitter- pattering over to push me towards the direction of their bedroom.
It took lots of self-initiated giggles, cuddles, “puppy-eye looks” from the boys before I could muster a smile. As angry I was earlier, I didn’t want to stay mad at my kids. I was comforted to see how the siblings worked together non-stop to get me to react positively till they succeeded. To see Liam teaching Ollie how to recite numbers from 80 to 100 was such a privilege as well, I’m constantly blown away by the things Liam says, shares and infers, especially when I’m aware that most of the things he learn is through observation and school and not from my teaching since all I’ve been doing for the last 2 years has revolved around reading story books and answering his many questions on trains, buses, traffic lights, cars whenever we’re out and about.
And you know what? I’m going to continue working on being the best version of mom I can be for the kids. I am going to continue walking the talk. I am going to continue being more present even if it’s just 30 minutes everyday without looking at the comp or smartphone. I am going to improve on my disciplining skills without going ‘apeshit’ on my sons especially when I’m not in the right frame of mind. I am going to refrain from “emotionally blackmailing”.
I am going to celebrate being a mom to a 5-year-old kid AND my 5-year-old kid. Because despite my flawed parenting for the last 5 years, I never fail to receive hugs that can strangle and kisses that makes my pimples pop up every single day (and that includes sick days and no tv days). I never have to be the first to say “I’m sorry” because my kid allows me to keep my pride. I never have to explain myself for abrupt decisions made, because I’m trusted to do what’s best. (oh great, now I’m starting to weep again…)
The days are long and the years are short you say? Damn right it is. Be it a good, a bad or an ugly day filled with endless parenting struggles, I guess what I’m trying to tell my mama-of-5-years-self is to be more tolerant, more accepting, acknowledge that things can be worked out and to stop feeling entitled. No matter what, the kids are going to grow bigger and before we know it, grow out of living together under the same roof. So quit fussing over the small stuff, Nat (unless it endangers their lives of course). And really, just enjoy them while you still can chase after them and cuddle them, and not have to wait for them to come help you up.