“Liam, come and eat your next mouthful (of dinner) now”. “Liam, stop playing in the kitchen,” “Liam, stop jumping on the sofa before you fall and land on your head again like the last time.”. I could hear my ears ringing from all the orders I was barking at Liam for most of dinner tonight, while trying to feed him.
I should have known that allowing those 5 pieces of famous amos cookies, half a pack of chips, an apple just before dinner would affect his appetite later on. But of course, anything for some quiet and obedience while I handled the little one’s pre-bedtime routine. And so I said yes to every food request that came just before and wasn’t part of dinner.
I didn’t like the mummy version of myself tonight.
The husband come back early from work but ironically had to work from home. He didn’t want to be disturbed but decided to work from the same couch Liam was on. And we all know how disruptive kids can be especially when we’re deeply focused on getting that work and email out to the boss. It didn’t take long for him to snap when Liam bothered him for the nth time, in between getting mouthfuls of dinner from me.
“Here I am working, and there you are checking your phone instead of managing your son.”
Excuse me? I’ve been on a mobile phone cleanse for the last 2 weeks, forcing myself to only check my phone a lot lesser than before in a bid to reconnect and spend more time “being in the present” with my kids. Surely he’s noticed that? Especially when he called me some days back, all worried because I didn’t respond to his 7 whatsapp messages (and he rarely messages) within the hour and I said it was because I’ve been deliberately putting my phone away and not checking it as often. Haven’t he been hearing me going on like a broken record, going Liam this Liam that for the last 45 minutes, nagging at him to come and have another mouthful of his dinner or I’ll remove even more privileges to the existing ones that I’ve already implemented for the day? Yes, in desperate times I succumb to threats. Horrible parenting style I know, but desperate times calls for well…less-ideal measures.
But of course this wasn’t about how I felt. I was supposed to be one managing my son because I didn’t have work to rush out and if I had managed him properly instead of trying to sneak a peek at my phone which was buzzing away, this wouldn’t have happened in the first place right?
Tonight was one of those evenings I felt burnt. From giving in to my son and letting him do that whole snuggle, tugging on arms and doe-eye-pretty-please-mummy look on me each time he did something that I needed to interfere be it out of safety or sanity of the other family members. And tonight, out of boredom from not being allowed playdoh (because the mess that killed my calm while cleaning up yesterday was still playing in my head), screen time, and being done with lego building, puzzles, books, crayons, colouring; he got to even more mischief.
He switched off the bathroom lights while my grandma was in the shower (causing her to yell from the bathroom to switched it back on and I had to tell him off for safety aspects that she could slip and fall from not being able to see clearly in the dark), irritated my grandma playfully (well, she let him) in the kitchen which again received my telling-off, and stuck clothing pegs on my grandma’s pants which got both of them laughing in stitches, before one peg accidentally pinched her bum and she decided to put an end to that.
You can imagine why I was barking at this little fella so much.
Then when he was at the 85% mark of finishing his dinner, he decided to hop onto the couch, peered over at Papa’s laptop and asked if he was almost done too. And that’s when we both incurred the wrath of our stressed up man.
I wished I could have been a better mum but I knew I sucked as one tonight when I grabbed Liam and threaten to put him back into the highchair for all meals if he didn’t sit with me properly at the dining table to finish his dinner the moment the husband flared. I should never have allowed my mum to take precedence of feeding dinner at the couch some months back and got slack with the discipline of having all meals at the dining table together with the family. But it’s happened and so I rolled badly with it. Liam grabbed my leg and sobbed to sleep. I couldn’t bear to rain anymore earfuls at my firstborn and so I hugged and carried him to his bedroom where he went into a deeper sleep within minutes. Poor boy, he must have been overtired from our day out today. A day which I specially made arrangements to go on a bus and train ride, sneaking a toy shop visit in between.
Meanwhile as I type this post-dinner and not wanting to speak to the husband for his sucky attitude earlier, I wonder about a few things: how could I have managed the situation earlier better? Should I reduce my screen time even more? Should I try to re-establish mealtimes etiquette with Liam by making him sitting at the table to finish his food before going off to play? Should I just let go of that ego and make my peace with the husband just so I can watch Suits tonight? It’s a bit of a waste that the elder boy is in bed at 8.30pm tonight which gives us a 2 hours head start to our usual me-time.
Oh wait, I can hear Liam crying… I recognise that cry, he probably wants me to lie down with him… Here we go.