It’s ok to not love every minute with your child

Last week I accidentally became the arsehole that I hate. By inadvertently making a fellow infertile lady feel bad about her infertility. I didn’t know she was. I don’t even know her. It all started like this. It’s Christmas Eve and like an idiot I needed to get groceries. Unfortunately, Christmas Eve has fallen on my shopping day. So I had to get up super early, so I can get to the shops super early, in order to get a car park and avoid all those men who’ve left their Christmas shopping to the last minute (according to all those Facebook memes that is). Having been up until past midnight the night before I wasn’t looking the best, but managed to pull on some semblance of appropriate looking clothing, raked a comb through my hair and went out to do battle. The shopping itself was uneventful, apart from not being able to find any turkey. My husband had suggested we have turkey for Christmas dinner, but after scouring the store for what seemed like an hour for something other than a full size frozen turkey that cost $17, I gave up and settled on a ready-to-roast chicken dinner instead. And even though I found this only slightly annoying (passively chanting under my breath the mantra “I live in a privileged society, everything is fine. I live in a privileged society, everything is fine”), I didn’t feel particularly defeated by it all. As I triumphantly approached the counter I was greeted by the already incredibly fed up looking cashier with “You look as tired as I feel”. Really? That’s how you start off conversations. Implying someone looks like shit. Well, thanks. I really didn’t need that self-esteem after all. I wanted to shoot back “Clearly they didn’t teach you how to talk politely to customers at Check-Out-Chick School”, but considering it was almost Christmas I bit my tongue, and merely did what anyone else does in this situation; Laughed pathetically and I hoped I gave off a vibe that said “Please don’t ask me any more questions”. No such luck I’m afraid. The next question she asked was inevitable, “Well I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. I’m sure we both need it”. I’m not sure what set me off. Maybe it was the annoying timbre of her voice, the continual implication that I looked terrible, or the fact that she was doing a shit job packing my grocery bags, but I said it. Before I could stop myself, before I could even think on what I was about to say, or the consequences of those words, I said it. “Haha, well obviously you don’t have a two year at home then!” She paused and looked away, then replied “Well unfortunately I can’t actually have kids. But you know whatever”. I. Am. An. Arsehole. I try to laugh it off and quickly apologise. “That’s life” she states bluntly and shrugs her shoulders. She finishes, I pay, and haul ass out of there. That’s when the inner monologue fight begins.

Voice 1 “How the hell could I have said that?! Aren’t I always advocating to not say things like that, because you never know if someone is struggling”

Voice 2 “Well she shouldn’t have said you looked like shit”

V1 “She didn’t say that”

V2 “She implied it”

V1 “Now she probably thinks I don’t appreciate Stormaggedon. Maybe I should go back and tell her I went through IVF”

V2 “Are you an idiot, don’t do that!”

V1 “Now her day is going to be ruined, because she’ll be thinking about not being able to have kids, and it’s Christmas!”

V2 “Stop ruining your day caring about what someone else thinks. Especially someone who started out being a bitch to you!”

V1 “That shouldn’t be the point! We should be making the world a better place by not coming down to their level!”

V2 “Oh shut up”

V1 “You shut up!”

“I NEED CAKE!” – That was both of them.

Ok, so while those guys are fighting let’s talk about a few rules here:

1.       Always remember who you are talking to. If you don’t know them, keep the conversation to boring subjects, such as the weather.

2.       Only joke about your children if you know someone and are aware of their circumstances. Everyone has a story, it can be traumatic to add to it by casually joking how annoying your child is.

3.       If you do accidentally hurt someone’s feelings who are struggling, apologise, but don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s said, it’s done. Learn from it and move on.

4.       If you’re a check out person STOP IMPLYING PEOPLE LOOK LIKE CRAP.

If I could go back and talk to that woman again I would apologise again. I would say that it’s horrible that she isn’t able to have children. But I would also say to her that even if you’ve struggled for years to have children, when you finally have them you’re allowed to not enjoy every minute with them. You’re allowed to mourn your loss of sleep, your loss of independence, and your alone time. You don’t have to love it when they refuse to eat, or refuse to use the toilet, or wake you up at 4am. It’s ok to hate their tantrums, the screeching noises they make for no reason, and them constantly disobeying you. It’s ok to be tired, to be fed up, and to sometimes secretly wish for another life.

It doesn’t make your love for them any less. It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate them, or adore their hilarious and beautiful quirks. Your heart would still be wrenched apart if you were to lose them. Your world would never be the same again without them. Let’s face it, your world is currently not the same WITH them. It certainly is better. But it’s also certainly harder.

I’m sure all mothers can relate to this, and I hope that those who aren’t, or who are yet to become mothers can see that too. Moving forward into the new year, I know I’ll try my best to remember where I am, what my circumstances are, and to be a bit more mindful when talking to others. But not here. Remember, here we only ever speak the truth!

 

Down with Elf on the Shelf!

Firstly, I assure you I am not a Christmas Scrooge. But when it comes to the Christmas “Elf on the Shelf” then all I can say is Bah Humbug! For those of you who are lucky enough to ask the question “What’s an Elf on the Shelf?” then all I can say is THANK CHRIST YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.

I myself have only just recently come across it, mostly from seeing Buzzfeed articles about it linked on Facebook, and stories being told at Stormaggedon’s playgroup. But it was this little article that certainly piqued my interest. For I had a secret. I hated the idea. But you know, Mothers. They love this kind of garbage tradition setting trends. And if you’re not totally into doing this kind of thing for your own child, you’re some kind of monster then that’s fine and, you just need to find your own traditions.

In a nutshell, Elf on the Shelf is a spy for Santa, who is popped on your child’s shelf at the beginning of December, essentially to watch over them and report back to Santa on their good behaviour and equally their wrong doings. Thus introducing our children to the Orwellian nightmare that is fast becoming our dystopian future. Fair enough, they should be prepared. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, the Elf starts acting like something out of a horror film, moving about just as we take our eye off them for a moment, creating havoc and mischief. Shudder.

elf-of-the-shelf

Even The Simpson’s Christmas special jumped on the send-up bandwagon this year with their version of Elf on the Shelf, with Maggie being given a Gnome in your Home, complete with promises that it’ll nibble her little fingers off if she misbehaves. Obviously her reaction to this was that of a normal child suffering nightmares, refusing to sleep, then destroying her toy in a murderous act of butchery.

Now I can certainly hear some of you complaining that I might be trashing a good thing. “Oh come on now, look how cute and adorable it is! We’re bringing the whimsy back into Christmas. Why do you hate me for that!” Firstly, I have no problem with whimsy. I think it’s a wonderful thing. Setting up cute scenes involving the elf for your children to discover the next morning can be quite fun. It’s the whole “We are watching your every move, SO YOU BETTER BE GOOD, or else Santa won’t bring you ANY PRESENTS!” that really gets to me. And it’s the fact that the elf seems to be there for a parent’s entertainment at the expense of their own kids that I’m not all that comfortable with. I’ve heard stories of parents setting up scenes that involve the elf stealing presents from under the tree, unwrapping gifts, eating food and moving toys around. And laughing gleefully about how angry and upset their children got the next morning when they discovered the shenanigans. Now, I perfectly understand how hilarious it can be when a child reacts in such a fashion to something that is clearly not real. But that’s because we are adults. We can see it’s not real. They are children and they BELIEVE it. Because we perpetuate the myth of Santa, they absolutely and faithfully believe that a fat man in a suit breaks into their house once a year and leaves presents. To put it another way, Santa is scary enough to a lot of kids. We don’t need to add to that fear with a Chucky like elf with a life of its own running around the house at night. Seriously, parents complain enough about their kids never sleeping. Why are you making it worse for yourself? 

crying-with-santaThen of course there’s the Dads out there “ruining” the fun and “Not taking the Elf seriously”. Yet another reason why I hate the internet sometimes. Once again forcing the idea that dads are so useless that they can’t get a simply task right, and assuming that MUM’S CAN’T BE THIS COOL!

star-wars-elf

The internet seems quite divided at the moment about “lying” to children over the whole Santa ethos. Should we really be lying to them? Should we tell them the truth, that Santa isn’t real? How will children ever learn to trust their parents if we keep tricking them into believing such nonsense? These questions frankly do my head in. Can’t we just let Santa be? It doesn’t have to be about naughty and nice. It doesn’t have to be about abject surveillance by an elf. Why can’t we just let Santa be the whimsical part? Do we really need to add the elf? Can’t Santa just be a jolly and generous man who bring toys to children once a year. Why do we have to add the “only nice children” and “be good, or Santa will bring you coal instead of presents” part? On an aside note, considering how far back the legend of Santa goes, wouldn’t bringing coal to a relatively poor family have been a blessing in Europe during the winter? Who cares about toys when you’re freezing to death right? Anyway, I digress…

I get the desperation of parents. Your kids have been acting up all year and you’ve had enough, so you use the idea of Santa to try and claw back some obedience and respect. But do we really have to use Christmas this way? Stormy was playing up the other day and the words “Stop being naughty or Santa won’t bring you any presents” were on the tip of my tongue. But I bit them back. I didn’t want that to become what Christmas was about. Being good for the sake of reward. How am I supposed to teach him gratitude, and generosity and the spirit of giving if Christmas has “an angle” to it all? That shouldn’t be the point.

So if you’re looking for tradition this year and the Elf seems to be your thing, then fine, leave it to the shenanigans at night. Whimsy for the sake of whimsy if fine. But leave out the spying bullshit. Though really if you’re after creatures wreaking havoc at night, then I thoroughly suggest getting on the Dinovember bandwagon. That’s just top notch tradition right there.

For my family, we’ll be continuing a tradition that I only just started last Christmas. The Christmas Eve box.


A new pair of PJs to wear that night, a lovely new book to read, and a cute soft toy to play with (or when he’s older some hot chocolate and marsh-mellows to eat and drink under the Christmas Tree as we read). Now that is whimsy.