The things I do not know

I’ve been a bit absent from this space, lately.

It feels a bit like I’m absent from my own head. We are grappling with a few huge changes that have arrived all at once: Tim is about to start a new job. I have seven thousand balls in the air and daren’t take a breath in case I drop one. And our house – we sold our house. Someone wants to buy our house. And the thing about house-hunting is, it goes something like this: this house is perfect, but we’re not sure about the area. This house is perfect, but the schools look crappy. Everything about this house is great except the house itself, which is awful. Making all the pieces fit together at roughly the same time is hurting my eyebrows and finger-ends.

I worry about parenting too. You know how everyone remembers their own home life and their own parents, and tells stories about them years later? Nearly everyone has something they want to do differently, patterns with their parents that they don’t want to carry forward to their kids. Lately I can’t stop worrying about what Henry and Teds might discuss with their wives late at night.

For example:

I think I raise my voice too much. Will that be a conversation that goes ‘oh, my mum lost her temper with us a lot, but I was so loved, and we had a lot of fun’. Or will it be something like ‘I get my anger from my mum, I think, so I want to make sure I don’t pass that on’? Henry is scared of his own shadow at the minute, and flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. Is this a brief phase we’ll laugh about later, or are we reinforcing each other’s bad behaviour?

There probably isn’t a definite answer. We are muddling along together, and more and more I realise that we are all, parents and children both, making it up as we go. It’s kind of incredible, when you think about it, that such beautiful things can come out of so much flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.

Anyway. This is turning into exactly the sort of thing you shouldn’t write on your blog late at night, so perhaps I’ll delete this in the morning. Or perhaps not. Because one day I might want to know that in my late twenties, with two tiny boys and in the middle of madness, I worried ferociously about being a good mother. And finding a house with a garden.

Please, future me, please tell me I did both.

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11 thoughts on “The things I do not know

  1. I do exactly the same re the self questioning but I console myself into thinking that at least once they become parents they will understand our choices better and look a bit more favourably on us.
    It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Good luck with the house hunt. 🙂

    • Thank you! Nice to hear I’m not alone too. And yes – I felt like I understood so much more about my mum once I had babies myself. Hopefully once mine grow up they’ll start to understand a bit more as well.

  2. Blogs are supposed to be truth and if others do not like what you have written they will move on and read something else. However parenting; most of us will be just good enough. My children still seek out my company and speak to me so i think i did ok.

    • I think you did, and do, a great job! Yes, I’m looking forward to the time when my kids are old enough to just want to hang out with me, as adults. At least I hope they will…

  3. Oh, Rachel. I feel your pain. I have the same sort of hangups, albeit about different things. Too much free time (in my case, anyway) will do that to you. Most of the time I worry exactly the same sorts of things – raising my voice, that I’m too hard on them. I can visualise Daniel writing an autobiography when he’s forty-six and a Nobel winner / Extreme Sports TV legend (all right, I’m daydreaming) saying “My parents loved us, but my father frightened me. His quick outbursts of temper and the overly harsh punishments he dished out for the slightest of transgressions unnerved me, and everyone else in our house.”

    But here’s the thing. You’re aware of the stuff that you do. I’ve not seen you in action with a toddler but I would be willing to bet that you’re doing fine. It’s better to be a good parent who is riddled with self-doubt than a bad parent in denial. They’re the ones who make the news headlines, usually when it has ended in tragedy. I suspect very strongly that you are a (very) good parent who thinks far too little of yourself.

    If that doesn’t help, I’m going to pass on perhaps the wisest thing my mother ever said to me, which is this: as a parent, you never stop learning. Parenting is like driving. Anyone can pass a test, just as anyone can deliver a baby. The real learning starts when you’re out on the road, or slumped in the nursery. But you never. Stop. Learning. I was seventeen when she told me this, and it was true then, and its true today.

    Go forth in your beliefs, my dear. You’re doing fine, and deep down I think you know that.

    • Lovely, lovely. Thank you so much. And I agree that it’s better to be overly concerned than oblivious. Though I would like, as ever, to find more of a happy medium.

      Working on softer voices. He runs off a lot – which prompts most of my yelling – so perhaps we should work on that as well. I love that parenting as driving analogy! x

  4. “It’s better to be a good parent who is riddled with self-doubt than a bad parent in denial.”

    “I suspect very strongly that you are a (very) good parent who thinks far too little of yourself.”

    Wise words – take heed.

    • He’s two-and-three-quarters, ish (three in August). I wouldn’t be surprised if it were some kind of developmental phase, since it’s not normal for him. But he could also, as you say, be picking up on the fact that there’s a lot going on. I’m always surprised by how perceptive they are! And thanks for the good vibes x

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