There’s a certain kind of clarity that comes from being 40. Well, er – 41 actually but I’ve stopped counting. I have decided that I’m not going to get any older, Ima stop right here at this age.
Well, last year’s age, but you know what I mean.
And by clarity, I mean, self-awareness. I seriously could no longer care less what other people think of me.
Yeah, that’s a lie too. I WISH I didn’t care but my emotions preeeeetty much rule this girl.
Yep. Always have done- probably always will do.
And that’s ok.
Anyway – as I was saying, I’ve learned a lot about myself in these past few years and I’m gonna write about it here so I can read back on it the next time I’m in full blown self-hatred mode and rediscover why its ok to be me.
Firstly – I am aware that I am different to most mothers. I am not great at the whole example setting thing.
My teenaged daughter is usually the one telling ME to mind my language and it’s usually her asking ME to get a grip when I lose it. And my boys have seen me in a puddle of tears on the floor holding onto a glass of wine for dear life and then been there to comfort ME more times than I care to admit.
But here’s the thing: my kids know they could rely on me to be there for them no matter what happens, and that I will love them regardless of anything that they could ever say or do.
So I’m calling that a win. I’m not always perfect, but my love for them is.
I may not always operate in complete coping mode but I am capable of being what they need when they need it most and that’s what is most important.
I don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to parenting but I do always apologise when I stuff up.
That’s also important.
Secondly: I’m a better mother when I spend (a metric crapload) of time away from my kids. And THAT’S ok to admit too. It doesn’t make me a bad mother; it makes me real. Not all mothers want to spend every waking moment with their children climbing all over them and obsess about every tiny aspect of their children’s lives. We are all different. I for one go stir crazy when I’m not afforded enough “Fi” time. And the result of that’s not fun for anyone. BELIEVE me. Working outside the home with long hours is what keeps me sane and helps teach my children the independence that they may not have learnt had they not have been forced into it. I’m not gonna feel guilty about that anymore either.
It’s wonderful that some people can post all over social media about how much they LOVE school holidays and simply ADORE having their offspring home and post album after album of beautiful photos of the amazing artwork, craft creations and outings they have done with the neatly dressed, intelligent, well behaved children, – but that’s not me (or my children) either.
Not even close.
It’s taken me a loooooooooong time (and I’m not there yet) to be ok with the fact that I am not like those mothers.
I abhor craft, I don’t have an artistic bone in my entire body and going ANYWHERE further than the corner store with two autistic boys makes me want to stab myself because it is a hell that most people won’t ever fully experience.
And here’s why:
My kids have zero executive functioning skills. Know what they are? They are the skills that allow kids (or adults) to exercise mental control and be able to regulate themselves. These skills are easily learned and eventually instinctive in neurotypical (or normally wired) individuals and most kids have them down pat by about ten years old.
And by self- regulate I mean, to be able to make decisions for themselves, to instinctively understand what is expected of them in public places and to know how to self-entertain, behave appropriately and in their own best interest.
Put simply: because my boys are autistic and don’t yet have these skills mastered, a simple outing usually ends in one or both of my boys hitting/punching/kicking/poking/slapping each other in the nether region or screaming out something to the tune of:
“I’M BORED AND HUNGRY AND I HATE YOUR HAIR MUM AND YOU SMELL LIKE BUTT AND YOU’RE THE WORST MOTHER EVER BECAUSE YOU WONT BUY ME A NEW GAME AND WHY CAN’T I HAVE THIS CHOCOLATE AND WHY CAN’T I GO TO THE TOILET RIGHT BLOODY NOW AND WHY CAN’T I GO HOME WHERE MY PLAYSTATION IS BECAUSE YOU KNOW I HATE GROCERY SHOPPING AND WHY ARE YOU SITTING IN THE CORNER OF THE SHOP ROCKING AND SOBBING MUM WOULD YOU LIKE ANOTHER WINE?”
Or, you know, something like that.
And when I remind myself that most mothers stop dealing with toddler tantrums at around the age of 5 and that I am still dealing with them in 10 and 13 year olds I remember to stop comparing myself to the mum who took her four beautifully dressed children on a thirty six-hour car trip to see the beach on the other side of the country and stopped at every boutique café along the way because that isn’t – and will never be – my life.
Plain and simple.
It’s not even comparing apples and oranges but instead comparing apples with mutant kiwifruit cross bred with an exotic rambutan and bitter melon (they’re real fruits – google them).
But I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. Just don’t judge me for not being even close to having my ducks in a row. In fact, living this ridiculously insane existence has afforded me a sense of humour that I never knew I had before, and it’s taught me to never ever EVER take anything at face value.
There is ALWAYS more going on in everyone’s lives than what they post on social media.
I’m learning not to compare my off-the-planet home life to Susie homemaker and have come to the realisation that not everyone is as brutally honest as I am.
I may scare a lot of people off with my honestly because it’s often confronting and raw and uncomfortable, but it also filters out anyone in my life who isn’t willing to stick with me through the darker days and has shown me who I can trust and who only wants to be my friend for what they can get from me.
So thankyou to anyone reading this because it means that you’ve stuck by me and I love you and appreciate you more than I could ever convey.
Have a great weekend all. I am spending mine taking my son to the hairdresser to fix up the home hair cut he gave himself (those darn executive functioning skills to blame again). Or lack thereof.