Monday, 5 October 2009

A touch of parental jealousy

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.


Mwa said...

The curse of the SAHM. I try to remember I'm there for most of their "first" and it's me they come to first when they've hurt themselves.

Gail said...

Hello Brits

The other day, I met up with the mother of four boys who I au paired for in the US nearly 20 years ago. She was telling me that after I left (i worked for three months thru the summer months) she was driving the kids home one day from soccer, having roared at them all to get thei rboots, get their stuff, get in the car, put on their seta belts etc, when one of them said, sotto voce, "the bitch is back" h aha ha SHe was gutted. After a summer of being relaxed , non over-wrought mum for three months, she was about 2 days into their normal routine and the yellint had started again. She has a great relationahsip with all her boys now though, so I woudlnt worry!
Big beluga xxx

angelsandurchinsblog said...

I feel tearful, in an exhausted way, just reading your post. Though secretly relieved it's not just me feeling so tired. I hate being climbed on and having my hair pulled out in the process, wish I had the energy to organise productive obstacle races all day, and can't believe that they just never stop. Ever. Every sofa is a chance to climb and jump. Holes are there to be fallen in to rather than avoided. Every conversation ends in a question about 'is that a goodie or a baddie' or 'how much blood comes out when you fall on your head?' Love boys. Love them. Just wish they would occasionally stop.

Michelloui said...

Im exhausted reading your post, and I know a few mums of boys who say identical things to you... and yet, you will always have 100% devotion from your boys! Boys love their mother for all the the ways she ISN'T like dad. It must seem frustrating and disappointing at times now, but its like money in the bank, saving up for the future.

Dino said...

Oh Emily! I really do sympathise with your situation-not because I have kids myself but I used to be exactly the same as your boys when I was little, but I was arguably even worse behaved. I still remember how stressed my poor mum would get and how I would misbehave even more when she told me off because I just saw her as ruining my fun and games.

But I think at the end of it, your boys will thank you for teaching them good values and behaviour when they get older. I'm now extremely grateful to my mum for doing that and not letting me misbehave when I was younger, even though at the time I often saw her as someone who spoiled my fun and games. And I think if she didn't do that, we wouldn't be as close as we are today.

zooarchaeologist said...

We have this issue in our house too. To the extent that Toddler boy wont believe that I love him, only daddy can love him and he is the only one that can love daddy. Its very demoralising after spending all day doing your best. I think boys are just boys and whoever isnt there is always better as they have to do less of the disciplining.

Nina said...

I love this blog! I've been reading it for weeks, but have been prevented from leaving comments by the unreasonable nature of toddlers and employers.
But I'm not workin today and my son is asleep, so the possibilities are thrilling and endless.

I think I'm always going to be the less popular parent. My boy is also very much a boy - it takes me twenty minutes to walk down the bloody road because he has to stop at every.single.vehicle. that he sees and inspect it from all angles like he's a presenter on Top Gear.

Mummy has a dodgy back and can't carry him, but Daddy can. Daddy can swing him into the air and wrestle him to the ground and its nonstop laughs. I'm jealous of the way the two of them can just hang out and be happy.

I'm so pleased that his dad and he have the relationship they have, and I'm frustrated that I haven't got his Daddy's patience or physical strength and energy. But it is what it is. I am not him, but I know that in my own way I'm indispensable. (Although I didn't used to think that).

I have to say my son is mellowing with age. He's learning to be gentle. So that in the morning when he sees me instead of jumping on my head (as per usual) he grins widely and strokes my face and says 'Mama' in the tender voice he normally uses for sightings of cats.

Things change. You won't always be the climbing frame and the referee, but I hope you will still keep writing as I hugely enjoy your blog.


nappy valley girl said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who is worn out by her boys. They just have the most incredible amount of energy, don't they, and unending talent for getting into mischief.

I know what you mean about Mean Old Mummy, but I bet that when they are tired, or sick, or upset, you are the one that they want. I always find that rather comforting. xx

Lorna Harris said...

Well said. I feel like that exactly.

I'm homework, vegetables, baths, manners and telling off.

But also cuddles, first aid, ice cream, books and treats (although it's hard to remember this sometimes.)

Hot Cross Mum said...

Oh god, I was having those EXACT same thoughts a couple of hours ago when 'fun-daddy' arrived home and everyone started giggling. I felt like the most 'un-fun-mum' in the world and shuffled off to change my milk sodden trousers. :-(

Tattie Weasle said...

Me too! And it really is a boy thing so I am told and boy is it hard!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Awwww, you are not a mean old Mummy. But you know that. I feel like this as a single Mum in that I tend to all the tough week time stuff such as get up, go to school, do your homework etc, and Daddy gets the weekend fun.

I think it's only natural to feel a bit jealous when you feel you have to be the meany, but I bet your kids don't see you that way. Maybe you could have a night away somewhere. I bet you'd find they miss you tons.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Mwa - indeed. I try too.

Gail - I'd be so gutted too. So pleased to hear that it all ends up ok in the end. With FOUR boys, I'd be a nervous wreck, but also you have to work like a military operation otherwise the whole thing collapses. I hope that they understand when they get kids of their own!

A&U - It would be nice if they were to stop. But when they do they come over for a cuddle and you forgive them everything. Love boys but they do exhaust me!

Michelleoui - I think I have a small fortune in the bank right now! I am learning to love the differences.

Dino - thanks! I think most the Bosnian kids that I say are behaving beautifully. It is usually mine causing mayhem at the back. But, I have also noticed that most people don't have 2 kids in tow at one time, which is very sensible. I think I can keep one under control pretty easily.

ZA - so glad it isn't just me. And boys need discipline, really they do. Just wish it wasn't my main focus to be giving it to them.

Nina - Thanks! Glad you got a chance to comment. Been there with the presenter from top gear. And then they discover some squished insect or something else. Drives me loopy and makes me feel like i have entered a parallel dimension where time is curved.I also have a very dodgy back, which doesn't help!

NVG - another mother of brothers. I think we deserve our own special club. And we only have 2. How does 4 Down Mum to Go cope???

LH - why is it so hard to remember? Is it because we are female and therefore always beating ourselves up about something?

HCM - I'm holding onto the fact that fun daddy isn't so much fun when he's had them on his own for 3 hours. Then he is most unfun Daddy.

TW - but we love them really. We'll get revenge come the teenage years (so I'm told)

JB - I know. I know. Like the idea of a night away, but I'd miss them... ;-))

Mummy said...

I want to remind you that the parent who comes home from work (I being one) spends most of the day wracked with guilt because they aren't there all day to experience all of the wonderful, and the not so wonderful, moments you do.

Your boys will always appreciate it, even if (being boys) they don't actually say it.

Karen @ If I Could Escape . . . said...

I know exactly how you feel! I am evidently the "un-fun one" in our house right now and it's so not fair. Hugs to you!

OnlineMum said...

A brilliant post - thankyou. You are so right. Boys will be boys - but they will ALWAYS love their mum (well I hope so!)

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Mummy - I know, it is a case of the grass always being greener. There are days when I would pay someone to be able to go to work, and days when there is not enough money in the world..

Karen - I'm bored of being the unfun one. Bah humph!

OnlineMum - I hope so too!

Babies who brunch said...

i guess it would be just the same with girls? worse, probably. all that physical stuff from boys does drive me bananas though. sometimes i find it hard to be friends with a mum who's only got a girl because she just doesn't have a clue how exhausting a boy toddler is!

Tara@Sticky fingers said...

And one day those boys will grow up and remember who fed them, dressed them, hugged them, protected them, nurtured them etc etc.
So you don't have the 'glory' job right now, but you will reap the rewards in years to come. x

Metropolitan Mum said...

I have a feeling little L started preferring her daddy over her mummy already. She can be cranky all day, kicking and hitting me, only to lighten up in the evenings when HE comes home. It's not fair!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

BwB - boys, gotta love them. Apparently we will have our revenge during the teenage years!

Tara - Hope so!

MM - so isn't fair. I do get really jealous. Sigh!

RookieMommy said...

Great post! I can certainly relate. I wonder why on earth my 5yo misses me so much when she's at school as all I seem to do when she's here 'playing' with her little brother is moan and gripe at them. Either that or I'm nagging to get dressed/eat breakfast/tidy toys quickly.
I don't remember my mum being 'Mean Mummy', but I do remember her constantly doing housework and I don't recall her playing with us. I'm sure she did occasionally, but it's the housework that sticks in my mind.