23 September 2010

Delusions of Adequacy

As a perfectionist it is difficult to have delusions of adequacy. I aspire to have delusions of adequacy.

There is a running theme in my writing and that is whether I'm a good enough mother. I know that by caring enough about my children to question my parenting clearly demonstrates that I'm not a terrible mother.


I can't shake this nagging feeling that everyone else is better at it than me.

I want to relax and let go of my control freak tendencies, but they've been with me for years. They helped me in my accounting career, but they're no use to me now I'm a stay at home mum. Young children are unpredictable. In fact the only thing that you can be sure of is that they are their own people. They aren't compliant robots. Their personalities are bursting to get out and develop along side speech and motor skills. 

My job is to provide a safe and loving environment where they can bloom. Am I doing this when I'm rolling my eyes and screaming with exasperation when Cash tips over his drink deliberately again? Does it matter if I have to change his clothes again? I know it doesn't, but at the time it's infuriating.

I try to chose my battles. There are some issues where I will not compromise and my word is law. If we're in the front garden and they step one milimetre beyond the missing gate we immediately go back inside. If they throw a toy it gets taken away. Mostly I try to let them do their own thing. They are 'good' children. They are polite, caring and so so sweet, but of course, they have their moments.

This week I gave them some chalks for their blackboard. Presley, 3, accidentally broke a few. Cash, 2, systematically broke each one he picked up. I told him that if he continued I would stop him. He continued. My normally easy-going little boy was being naughty. I wasn't sure what to do. I picked him up and sat him on my lap and explained that what he had done was wrong, we had to look after our things. He cried and said he wanted to play with the chalks. I cobbled together some brand new discipline technique (partly inspired by Supernanny) and told him he had to sit on my knee for two minutes, say sorry and then he could carry on playing.

We don't have a naughty step, we haven't needed one (although when we had a playpen it was called 'the pen' at times). I thought the two minutes would be up and that would be that. Oh no. Cash totally surprised me by stubbornly refusing to say sorry. FOR 75 MINUTES. 

You know when you start something and it seems like a good idea, then you realise it was a hopeless idea, but can't back down? That's where I was this week. Presley was apologising on his brother's behalf, bless him. I ended the stand-off, or should I say sit-off, by putting Cash in his booster seat to eat the tea I hadn't yet made. The boys had a hastily thrown together cold salad instead of the planned hot meal.

So you see, I feel like a failure, a ridiculous failure. Nowhere near adequate.

Who knew that looking after children was so difficult sometimes? I didn't, but of course I wouldn't change them for the world. Especially not when they play at going shopping wearing hats and Mummy's shoes.




  1. It breaks my heart when Maxi appologises for mini, or cleans up after him. It makes me melt

  2. Their staying power is incredible isn't it? My two year old kept repeatedly playing a game the other night where he said 'eat dinner now' sat at the table, pushed his food away and screamed. I lost count of how many times he did it. It was meant to be dinner time but I just ended up ignoring him. Didn't know what else to do! Most of the time I don't know what to do. I think you have to make it up as you go along and hope it's somehow okay! Boys at the age yours are are tough going at times.

  3. I've not yet had the need for a naughty step or anything like that. Other than throwing the odd strop my duaghter is actually very well behaved. However as the count down to her second birthday continues I am become increasingly anxious that she'll wake up that day in a full on terrible twos mood! Will be interesting to see how I cope then!

  4. 75 minutes! I'm impressed. I find the naughty step (just know as 'The Step' in our house) works really well for me, but my boys are definitely challenging more than they used to. It is exhausting. I've found staying at home looking after children to be more stressful than my previous fairly high flying career in the City. People who don't have children never believe me when I say that. Courage ma amie! xx

  5. As mothers we all have feelings of inadequacy. It's built in. Of course he refused for 75 minutes - that's built in to him. After several times of this the length of time will get shorter - I promise. No one ever said being a mom is easy - but they never quite tell you just how difficult it will be either. I think you are doing a fantastic job. Those boys are lucky to have you.

  6. Ahh hun don't beat yourself up we all have feelings like this. I mean I am here online with the cat curled up on my lap whilst youngling watches tv and plays. I feel so guilty that I should be taking him out as it was raining yesterday so we didnt go out then either. But I'm full of cold and with no car I don't fancy a walk in the rain! You should call me anytime you feel like this hun as you are most definitely not alone! Love and support hugs sent your way from Kate xx

    www.katecollings.blogspot.com - Always welcoming new followers, guests and comments xx

  7. Similar things have happened to me too - I start down something that seems a good idea and an appropriate way of dealing with a situation, but you just can't always predict the reaction. I have also had to wait a long, long time for the apology - and once you've said you expect one you have to stick to it. But it doesn't half make you feel crap.

    S xxx

  8. Discipline when they are this little is really hard. Moo happily apologies, and then repeats the behaviour! I'm not entirely sure how to deal with it either. But I do think consistency is important, no matter how painful!

  9. Oh Sandy.....how many of us feel the same? Just what you've written though shows that you are a brilliant mother and your boys will end up being lovely young men and then grown men. How many children are not given that discipline or consistency to end up having no respect for anyone or anything....
    Toddler is being tough here too and refused to say sorry the other day and won't sit on the naughty step unless I stay there.....toddlers are hard work but you sound as though you are doing a perfect job and need to pat yourself on the back.
    Sometimes though i think....oh why did I start this...why didn't I just let it go or give in, it would be easier but I wouldn't be doing anyone any favours in the long run then. XX

  10. They tie you in knots sometimes don't they.
    Everyone feels this way at some point, I am really struggling with my two boys arguing like crazy at the moment, and it's driving me nuts. My fourteen year old just sort of reverts to being seven again and it's so frustrating. Glad you got that apology - I think it's important to say "sorry", and mean it.

  11. I can totally relate Sandy. I always assume I am not doing well enough too but realisitically I am sure I am. As for the naughty step (or such) it does work but it can take time, alot of time. Kids will be kids and will be naughty, yours are still very young. It will all gte so mch better.

    Mich x

  12. You're doing brilliantly Sandy, you really are. I think every Mum, I know I certainly do, holds herself up to some immeasurable ideal and finds herself wanting. Who are we comparing ourselves to? You sound like you're doing all the right things - and by right things I mean right things for you and your children. You know them. You know what works - even if you think you don't and it feels like you're making it up. We all are. But it's based on our knowledge of our children.

    Glad to see you mentioned in She magazine. I was like 'ooo I know her.'

  13. it continues I'm afraid, I never (well, very rarely) go back on something I've decided discipline wise with all my 4, yet still, the 14 year old will push buttons he knows won't get the reaction he wants and I ask him "have I ever changed my mind about something because you've had a strop?" he shamefacedly says "No" but still tries again the next time. I have decided, for the sake of my sanity, that it's a kid's job to try to push your buttons, it's the equivalent of a lion cub biting daddy's tail. Pick your battles, don't sweat the small stuff and listen to all these wise women above. You're a fab mum!

  14. The Mad House, I know, it's such a sweet thing to do :-)

    Emily, most of the time I don't know what to do either. I ignore, I distract and sometimes I stomp into the kitchen shouting fox ache!

    Photopuddle, Cash has changed now he's 2. He's much more willful and tries it on too. We have every delay tactic when he doesn't want to go to bed. It's hilarious :-)

    Pants with names, me too me too. I've never been so stressed in my life! :-) x

    Gigi, what a lovely thing to say. You can't possibly explain to someone without children just how difficult it can be - or how magical :-)

  15. Kate, thank you so much. It is horrible being stuck in the house, we try to go out every day! x

    Solveig, I know, it was a thoroughly miserable 75 minutes! x

    Bumbling, you're right, consistency is key. I struggle to keep my temper when they do the same things over and over again! x

    Chic Mama, thank you. Wise words, respect is so important. We're doing our best to bring them up well and this means doing the difficult thing sometimes. x

    Suzanne, it does make you crazy! I hope things have calmed down for you x

  16. Mich, thank you. I'm hanging on to 'it will get much better'! x

    Deer Baby, I'm not sure who I'm comparing myself to, probably some impossible parenting ideal! Good point about all children being different and doing what works for us x

    Rachel, my goodness, mine know how to push my buttons already! Yes, I usually try to pick my battles. Thanks for the pop-talk lovely x


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