My husband describes having children as a true experience in agony and ecstasy. Fortunately, the ecstasy is about as sweet as it gets, which is why we have 3 children. Unfortunately, there is plenty of agony to go around also. When he says this, he is usually referring to those moments that happen either on a weeknight between 5 and 7 pm or weekend morning between 10 and 12 am. The moments develop something like this: kids are hungry, someone provokes someone else, another child hits their head and starts crying, the first 2 escalate their teasing into torture, leading to all 3 children screaming and requiring parental attention at the same time. In addition, something either needs to go into the oven or come out of the oven, the phone will ring, and the parent present desperately needs to pee. Yes, those moments feel like agony and also like they will never end.
But this week, I have felt a different kind of agony. The kind my mother warned me about when she told me to carefully think about having children before I did. Her words were: “Children suck the life force out of you, FOREVER! It does not get better as they get older it only gets different”.
This week I am feeling something that I rarely feel. I feel like I am letting my kids down. Or namely one kid: Micah. Now usually I am a very confident mother. I am confident in my life decisions, confident they are well-loved, confident we are providing a good life for them. Usually I am confident that at the very least, I am a “good enough” mother. But for the past little while we have noticed a change in Micah’s behaviour. He is very bright (I figure I can say this in my blog) and school has never been a problem. He has always been sweet and kind and followed the rules, etc. But lately there has been lying, manipulation, blatant disobedience, and outright cruelty to his sister. I know, I know, normal kid stuff. But not for Micah. I have been caught unaware with this behaviour and I am not quite sure what to with it. We have been coming down pretty hard on him, but nothing is changing.
I decided to ask his teacher about behaviour at school only to find they have noticed it too, but not enough to warrant a call to us. After that chat I started to feel very, very sad. Yes, sad. I started to wonder if Micah is getting lost in the shuffle of our busy family. After all, he always does what he is told, he is responsible, performs well at school and in public. So…maybe he gets less attention? Maybe HE is our middle child, not Ariel?!
Then I started reflecting on what has changed in the last 6 months. Here is what changed: I gave myself permission to not DO everything, to delegate more, and to try to carve out sometime for myself both personally and professionally. We changed nannies for one who is more capable and could do more of the kids activities. So now, she takes the kids to swimming, where it used to be Micah and I who went. And he walks to school with a neighbourhood “walking school bus” instead of Tim taking him everyday. Even violin, which used to be just he and I, now includes Ariel. We don’t even really spend much time doing his reading practice from school! He is such a good reader that we are always doing it on the fly to “get it done”. Ahhh!!! Yes, I am certainly not feeling “good enough” these days.
So I feel sad. Maybe everyone on at home isn’t OK, like I had thought they were. Maybe my diminished presence is having an effect. Maybe Micah’s behaviour is attention seeking in the worst way. Maybe I am letting my sweet boy, who is so full of amazing potential, down.
Oh my, more thinking to do and maybe a few changes need to be made.
Or maybe, as Tim would say, it is just a phase and the ecstasy is just around the corner. It certainly doesn’t feel like it right now.