My two boys, as regular readers will know, are very much boys. They love to run, shout, climb, jump, shoot, wrestle, fight, bundle, cars and trains. They spend quite a lot of their time trying to work out how to shoot web out of their wrists in the mode of Spiderman and smashing their wrists in an attempt to turn into aliens, a la Ben Ten. They like nothing better than prodding sticks into holes to see what comes out, building bridges out of old planks and racing their cars down the incline and peeing into holes they have dug to make urine based mud pies. I'm loving that last game, it is really making my day - ah-hem. They are boisterous, loud and energetic. They aren't such fans of sitting down quietly and colouring in (although they occasionally surprise me).
By the end of the day, I'm absolutely exhausted. I've run about, been climbed on and had to chase errant children down. I've spent 95% of my time trying to stop someone getting hurt or separating warring toddlers. Most of the time I'm shouting 'NO!' 'Stop doing that, you will hurt yourself/your brother' 'I'm NOT a climbing frame' and other such helpful stuff. It does always seem quite negative, but I haven't quite worked out how to stop them running across the road by shouting something positive at them. Of course, the more tired I get, the less energy I have to come up with positive ways of distracting them from whatever they shouldn't be doing and the more I start shouting. I'm not proud of it, I'd rather not do it but I do.
Then, just when the whole situation is approaching total melt down, Daddy gets back home. The boys are thrilled. They rush over and leap into his arms. He, of the tired from a day at the office but not tired in the physical sense tired, then throws the boys up in the air, chases them down roaring like a dragon, bundles, wrestles and does all that sort of manly play. All the sort of the play that I either hate (I was never one for a big bundle) or haven't got the energy for.
The boys love it. They absolutely love it. Daddy coming home is one of the highlights of their day. And I have to admit that recently I've been struck down with a touch of jealousy. Mean Old Mummy is the one who says No. Mean Old Mummy is the one who doesn't allow things and applies discipline. That is not to say that Dave doesn't do it, but as I'm the one at home with them most of the time, I do the bulk of it. Then, of course, when Dave gets back, they are so thrilled that they behave far better than they were just 5 minutes earlier so less discipline is needed. Mean Old Mummy is grumpy, tired and bereft of ideas of more fun things to do, having exhausted all great plans earlier on in the week. Mean Old Mummy has also got to cook, get the laundry sorted, do the washing up, put things away, occasionally run some form of cleaning product over the house, yadda yadda yadda. Mean Old Mummy shouts and is just not much fun.
Now, I know that men and women interact with children differently, and that both ways of doing things are important for children to develop. I know that I offer a much calmer more realistic environment in which they can have their down time, calm time, gentle time which they need as much as they need their energetic Daddy time. I know that Dave couldn't keep up that level of energy all day (let alone all day every day) and that if he was at home with the kids and I was the one coming back from the office then the boys would be as excited to see me as they are to see Dave. But that doesn't stop me being jealous. Not all the time, I do often look on with a big old smile and think to myself how great it is that the boys have such a fantastic relationship with their Dad. But sometimes, just sometimes, I am.
Obviously I just need to grow up, put aside the tragic desire to be the popular one, and learn to appreciate that what I add to the mix is important, valuable and needed. I need to recognise that in as much as children, especially boys, gain much from their play with their Daddy, they also gain much from the way Mummy (even a Mean Old one like me) interacts with them too. And I do know that, truely I do. But just occasionally I forget it, just a little.