Is there a point where Mums just need to butt out? Master 3 has entered a realm of uncertainty as he tries to navigate his world of challenges, hormonal surges, learned independence and plain old naughtiness. He wants control. I want control. I try to make his world easier and I try to set good examples for him.
Because my boys spend the majority of their time with me I am acutely aware of my behaviour. I want to set good examples; I want them to learn their life skills from me; I want them to know how to treat others well . . . yet each day I fall short and I lose patience, I expect too much and I become frustrated. I have no excuses other than I am a tired Mum trying to do her best one day at a time.
I recently re-flicked through the bestselling ‘Raising Boys’ by the acclaimed Steve Biddulph. I almost giggled at the chapter called ‘From Birth to six: the gentle years’. Gentle? Gentle on whom? Was he fucking kidding me I thought as I did battle with Master 3 and Master 20 months to have their daytime sleep? I should note that in an attempt at ‘positive parenting’ the battle came after redirection, cajoling, reading stories, negotiation and finally, in exasperation, old-fashioned bribery. Nothing worked so I just shut the door and walked away and they cried at me.
It made me think that while I am an important central pivot in Master 3’s life; I am not the only one. Sometimes I am in his way and what he wants and needs is his Dad.
This was clearly demonstrated the other night at dinner time when no matter what food was presented Master 3 refused to even sniff it, preferring to call it ‘yucky’ and push the plate away angrily. A stern word or look from Dad got him trying the food while I kept out of it. Dad then discussed respect and how good a cook Mummy is and how the vegetables have come from our garden and such. Dinnertime then became exciting because Daddy is talking about it, rather than Mum trying to force feed him with her foot on his throat. An added bonus was that Master 20 months copies Master 3’s every move so we had two eating without too much fuss. And I didn’t say a word. So what’s going on here?
Perhaps in taking on the sole responsibility of raising the boys to be the sort of men I imagine they should be I am in danger of coming between them and their Dad. That is that I have not been letting Mr magentfrog do his Dad-thing. I have been trying to be Mum and Dad and he has let me take over to some extent. Of course, at my own doing, this could make him feel useless and me even more frustrated.
That dinnertime revelation made me realise that I needed to relinquish some of my control; Mr magentafrog is perfectly capable of building connections with the boys and I needed to trust that the man I love is their perfect role model to manhood. By trying to be a Dad too I have gotten in the way.
Similarly if Mr magentafrog offers to have the boys for the afternoon and shoooos me out the door, I need to go without worrying and without question. Everyone will survive for a couple of hours without me.
Fortunately, Mr magentafrog has endless energy for his boys even after a long day at work. After a long day working at home I have no inclination for such indulgence. I just want the dinner eaten and bath time started!
How important do you think good men (and women) are in the lives of boys? How do you build solid relationships with your children?