I am enjoying a peaceful evening alone. I mean alone. Doing my own thing; writing to you. All children are fast asleep and Mr MF is away again for work. I had dinner with a friend and her children. The kids had plenty of playtime and a bath at her house. Then all I had to do was put them to bed when we got home. Bedtime, bedtime, how I love you now . . .
Over the past few months there have been several battle grounds with Masters 3 and 2; dinner time and bed time, with bed time being where we’d be most under sustained attack. The howls of protest could be heard for miles, our shouted retaliations only fuelling an already unruly battle for control – toddler versus parent; a battle of wills against the witless. It really came down to who could hold out the longest.
We did our best but mostly one of us would step in to give the other a rest (so the children were not donated to charity) and would end up either lying with the kids or patting them or reading them another story. Then there were requests for drinks, needing to go to the toilet or just getting up and coming out of their room. It was a totally untenable situation. We were stressed and tired and not having dinner together until late, providing we were still awake. We were exhausted and ‘over it’. But as with most parenting issues you know what needs to be done but you have no energy for implementation. Trust me, a child knows this. They can smell desperation at 100 metres!
It was at the peak of this domestic bliss that I decided that a week away from home for Mama was required. This was just the circuit-breaker that I needed. While I was off enjoying the delights of the big city and spending my nights dining out and meeting with friends Mr MF was at home watching episodes of Supernanny with zeal.
After a couple of days I began to get phone reports from the home front. Mr MF would be at pains to explain to me that it was ‘all about control’ and that he could see where ‘we’ were ‘going wrong’. I explained tersely that I was not an imbecile; I knew I was being played by our children but I was so exhausted I was taking the line of least resistance with them. Whatever worked was my motto, but I knew they needed more boundaries for their longer term development.
It was all very well intentioned but a tad offensive when he was dealing with two toddlers who understood instructions and I managed them plus a breast-feeding baby by myself on a daily basis. I asked him how he thought he’d go if just when he sat down to feed a crying baby there was a sudden and desperate need for Master 2 to poo. How would he get up from feeding baby in time to wipe a bum before poo was smeared everywhere, before toilet roll was gleefully unravelled and before toys were piled into the toilet, all the while with Master 3 moaning that he wanted a specific puzzle to do and three biscuits ‘cos his three! Then when you get up baby spews down your back and his pooey nappy has overflowed . . .
By the time I was due to come home all I heard was that the children go to bed by themselves each night without a struggle. I prepared myself for the ‘it’s easy, I don’t know what you’re complaining about – they’ve been really good for me’ speech. It did not come. Mr MF has the greatest respect for everything I do for our family; he just tried a few Supernanny techniques and they worked.
I love and appreciate Mr MF’s involvement in every aspect of our boys’ lives. Maybe the children needed a circuit-breaker too, the time to have Dad all to themselves, the time to miss me and the time to learn things from him. I really don’t give a shit what it was; they now go to sleep without a fight and I’m grateful.