Our little Squeak is a feisty shade of two. She refuses to be left behind and wants to do exactly what her big sister is doing. Even though there is three whole years of growing and learning between them, Imp is determined that this is not an obstacle.
The other morning, she told me that she wanted some toast for breakfast BUT I wasn't allowed to butter it. "I do it"
And so she did. My baby girl is growing up so quickly.
Just when I think we have it sorted and we settle in a cosy nook of contentment, it all degenerates into a mess. The vibe within the house changed. Like dark clouds which start to loom, we could hear and feel the storm approaching.
Some call it parental burnout and from what I have read very recently, which means late last night when I should have been fast asleep next to Squeak, is the frequency that it can occur in parents who homeschool and don't take time out for themselves. Our identity is swallowed up by our want to do the right thing by our children; to always be there for them whenever they need, which is fine to a certain point. However, once the point has been meet and pushed passed, that is when things can start to spiral out of control.
Many parents talk about setting boundaries for their children as way for them to learn. But what about us? Where are the boundaries for us as parents where we say "ok now it's some Mum/Dad time?" Why do we not give ourselves the same level of respect? And when we don't, how do we react?
Coming back to what has happened here was a revolt of sorts. I needed time to feed the synapses. To immerse myself which wasn't to do with homeschooling or parenting. I asked for moments of "me time" from The Littles but my requests were refused, which made me feel a level of resentment. I suspect now, through the wonder of hindsight, that they felt this and soon they were playing up (which is a term I really don't like to use because that is what children are supposed to, right? It it their role to challenge). Requests to do what I thought were rather simple things were ignored and I could feel my expectation bar start to rise after each episode of "no" happened. Power struggles emerged between Imp and Squeak; more so Imp attempting to exert herself over her sister who, quite frankly, really doesn't take her sister's shit very lightly. Husband and I joke that she will be the one that we will have a bank account named after called "Imp's bond money" - except we are deadly serious. She is the most independent and feistiest child I have ever met. Her spirit and thoughts are already forged so deep that I will enjoy watching her journey unfold.
The more these episodes between The Littles and I occurred, the more I felt myself retreating. The more they felt Mama pull away, the more grandiose their actions became. I delved deeper into my screen to escape, the more they jumped up and down to get my attention. The more they did this, the more I could feel myself fill up with frustration. And so the cycle continued. Husband would come home from work and could just see how my day had been by the look in my eyes. One afternoon, he sat on my window seat in the bedroom while I just let off steam like a human pressure cooker. He quietly listened, gently reassured me that The Littles did love their Mama and that maybe I should just drop my expectations of them and ultimately myself.
"So what do I aim for then? What should be my level of a good day?" I asked him.
"The kids breathing, fed and happy. That is really all you have to worry about" was his reply.
The next day, when I could feel things starting to become unsettled, I made them change direction. On went the aprons and we baked. I set up the ingredients that they needed and sat back, as much as I could, while they went about the task of mixing the batter for brownies. I watched as they negotiated taking turns of mixing and ultimately, who got to lick the spoon and bowl.
It was a good moment as it made us all just stop and breathe. They felt satisfied because they accomplished something plus they got a delicious treat at the end of it. The mood within the house shifted again. Even if it is only for a little while.
Two days later it was like the universe also felt the change, as the sky grew dark and then it rained. Just like within the house itself, the long spell was broken. We haven't had a really drop of rain since July so it was quite lovely to feel the sky just let go and expel all that rain.