Hi my name is Amy and I’m a single mother. I have a two year old daughter from a previous (domestic abusive) relationship and she has nothing to do with her father. I am not just a single mother, I’m a sole parent. I make all the decisions in regards to how my child is raised and I also am the only person who sets rules and boundaries. My daughter attends nursery five hours a week. Aside from that, she is with me.
In the blogging world it appears to be frowned upon to admit your child is anything less than perfect. Like with everything in life as far as the blogging world goes, if it isn’t picture perfect, it isn’t worth writing about. I don’t actually read ANY purely parenting blogs. I felt like it was a form of “baby groups” where everything is a competition, you know “oh my baby was walking at 10 months” “reciting her two times table at a year” “speaking french at a degree level by the age of three” etc etc. Some days I feel like a bad mother as it is because I had to shout at my kid in a supermarket because she’d thrown some tins of beans in front of a trolly that was being pushed by an elderly gentleman without coming online and reading how everyone else’s two year old is a saint. My daughter isn’t a saint. Yes, she has fantastic manners, is pretty much potty trained during the day apart from maybe two or three accidents a week and can count to twenty. But she is going through the terrible twos, and I don’t need to be made like it’s my parenting that’s to blame.
I don’t think I’m the best parent who ever walked the earth. I know I make some big mistakes as a mother, sometimes on a weekly basis. Some days I feel like it’s a constant battle, if it’s not me shouting “no!” it’s her! Today for example. In the morning when we were doing things she liked, such as painting, drawing, playing with her toys and dancing to music, it was fine. But as soon as we had to go do some chores, which you cannot escape taking your child with you if you are a single mother such as a post office run, a grocery shop and since my parents are on holiday, feed the cat. It all changed. She didn’t want to get dressed, she didn’t want to go in the pushchair (but had I let her walk by the time we reached the bottom of the hill she wouldn’t have wanted to walk anymore), she didn’t want to queue for the post office. Again, once we reached my mum she played happily while I cleaned, but as soon as we had to go, once again.. another battle ensued. I’ll admit I tried reasoning and then bribary but ended up battling her into the car seat and letting her cry all the way home. At home, she was fine having her dinner, doing chalk drawings and doing some more dancing.. but by bedtime, we had to battle again. By this point I was in tears, I was exhausted and I was so sick of trying to reason with her. I won’t lie, there was a LOT of shouting, both me and her. She threw all her toys out of her bed. It lasted a long time, lots of trips up and downstairs and a lot of crying from both of us. You know why I was crying? Because I had to be angry, I had to be cross, I had to be the bad person who told her little girls have to go to bed at 7pm. I had to stand my ground. I’ll be the first to put my hands up and say in a lot of ways, she gets away with a lot. I do often treat her like the sun shines out her bottom because she’s all I have but when it comes to bedtime I try my hardest to stand my ground. But the truth be told, I hate it. And afterwards I feel so guilty I often cry until I’m sick.
I feel so guilty because I am the only one doing the disciplining. I’m ALWAYS the bad guy and I don’t have anyone to back me up. Sometimes, yes I do snap at her when I’m stressed, but most of the time she simply needs to know if she’s doing something that is naughty. She needs to know that when I say something it’s usually for her benefit like eating her dinner (and if she doesn’t she needs to understand she gets nothing else), taking a bath, getting suncream/eczema cream on, not flashing her pants, getting dressed, playing nicely, sharing… these are all things she needs to learn and if I don’t teach her, who will?
I have to keep reminding myself they don’t call them “the terrible twos” for nothing. That I’m not the first mother to have to cope with this and when it’s all over, I’ll be the mother able to offer the sagely advice. I’m doing the best I can, and my daughter is always praised highly 80% of the time. She can be super well behaved when she wants to be, she’s smart, funny and incredibly loving. But dare I say it, she can be a complete brat at the times. I don’t want her to always get her own way, sometimes I do have to tell her to get outside and I won’t let her have a DVD on because I want her to be the best she can be. There is so many expectations of parents now and so many dos and don’t flying around the internet I often feel like I must be doing it wrong. That maybe I am a terrible parent and my daughter would be better off with someone else. I fought so hard and so long to keep her, but maybe that was wrong. Maybe she throws tantrums because i’m doing it “wrong”? I loose sleep at night over this idea, that I’m wrong.
The one difference though between being a mother and being in a shitty relationship is every morning it is a fresh start. No one remembers all the bad stuff that happens the day before, no one hates each other and tries to punish each other. Tomorrow Little Miss and I will get up and she’ll tell me she missed me while she slept and I’ll say how much I love her. In my relationship with her father he’d punish me every single day. At least I know she won’t do that. And even though we both cried yesterday and we both shouted yesterday, each day is a new day and an attempt at being better, both of us.
I don’t think there are enough honest blog posts about parenting out there. Ones that tell you it’s okay to shout and it’s okay to cry. That every day you get a chance to try again. Even though as I right this at 10 past 9 and I can still hear her running around in her room while I’m sat down here sobbing my heart out and being brutally honest on a medium that could make me feel worse than I already do, simply for telling the truth, I know that tomorrow I will sweep her up in my arms and all this will be forgotten. I don’t have that person to tell me “it’s fine, I’ll go” when i’ve been upstairs for the millionth time to tell her to go to sleep.. or someone to cuddle me and tell me that “it’s okay”. I don’t have anyone to take a turn, to make a suggestion or to be the one who says “no”. I do it all myself. So when I look around the other blogs of parents with children my age and they gush about how much of a little saint their child is, I do feel like a failure.
I never chose this, when I fell pregnant I didn’t think I would be the one doing everything alone. And even though I could be making a huge mistake sharing this post with the world, about my short comings as a mother dealing with a two year old madame, I wouldn’t change it. Because the alternative still gives me nightmares. Leaving was the best choice, and even on the days I feel like I’ve failed not just myself as a parent, but my daughter, deep down inside I know if I wasn’t tackling this alone, I might not even be alive to write this. Because after all we are both alive, and we do love each other more than I have ever loved anyone or anything else.
So if you’re reading this, and like me you feel so alone because your child isn’t a picture perfect saint and you do feel like you’re failing, remember, I’m here too and I feel the same as you. But one day we’ll all look back on this and realise it was only one small part of motherhood.. and when our children are 18, we’ll wish we could do it all again.
In other news, I might start my own version of reasons my kid is crying…