When I write about my kids, I tend to focus on the humorous bits.
The words they get just wrong enough to be hilarious, the questions that are unwittingly funny, the situations that would, frankly, make a cat laugh.
My experience of motherhood, told to others, is served with a side order of wry and a chaser of self deprecation.
I make no secret about the times that I yell, or the evenings when I feel that I would give my iPhone for a few moments without interruptions or squabbles. I’m a fully paid up member of the wine o’clock club; will clink virtual gin glasses with others in the same leaky, fragile boat. It’s how we talk to each other about it, after all; with a roll of the eyeballs and a raise of the brows and a fatalistic shrug of shoulders which sometimes feel weighted down with love and care and guilt.
Engrossed in make believe with my four year old earlier, though (having given in at last to his request to play puppy dogs) something made me hear my own voice as if that of a stranger. In my head, though he was being undeniably cute, I was bored to tears with pretending to clip on a lead and take him to the park (aka the bathroom). Out loud, however, I was patient, my words attentive and kind and apparently interested.
We might not be perfect – whatever perfect is – but beyond the bad days and the shouting and the grumpy, short-tempered snappiness of everyday frustrations that stick in our memory and, all too often, dominate our image of ourselves as mothers, are the other bits. The books read over and over and over again. The making sure the cups have juice in twenty seconds after everyone tumbles in through the door. The squeeze of a small hand, or the enthusiastic nodding along to some interminable tale about nothing much that seemed to start two hours ago and looks likely to go on till a week on Tuesday.
We’re more than the sum of what we do. We’re the element in which our children grow, as invisible and essential as air. And we’re good at this, you know. Better – and more important – than we give sometimes allow ourselves to be.