We all have those moments when we feel like a crap parent. For me, the moment was about a week ago. OK, it was technically an Aunty moment, but the point is the same.
My little sister and I were shopping at Birkenhead Point with our combined four children. (Aged 5, 4, 2 and my baby in the pram.) There aren’t too many lifts at Birkenhead Point and one of them is tiny. When it arrived, there were already a couple of prams inside. So I jumped in the lift with the kids, and my sister took the escalator to meet us up at the next level.
When we got out of the lift, my sister said, “Where’s Henry?” Suddenly my brain goes into over drive: “Did I have Henry? Didn’t you have Henry?” “Crap! Where was Henry?”
I rewound the last 30 seconds in my brain and realised what had happened. The lift had gone down before going up. At the bottom level, one of the Mums with a pram was getting out, so everybody shuffled out to make way. Henry must have gotten out of the lift at the bottom floor.
My sister charged down to the bottom level and found the aforementioned mother-with-pram waiting with Henry. No harm was done. But I must say it was one of the real low-points in my five years of parenting that I lost my sister’s kid, especially as I was only in charge of him for about 10 seconds in total. Wow, maybe I’ve set a new record for fastest person to lose a kid! We all have those moments in our parenting journey – the things we’re really proud of and the things we’re not so proud of. So here’s my list so far.
My Top Ten parenting low-points – here are the things I’m most ashamed of: (But don’t worry, I’m not actually beating myself up about them…)
- After craving peanut butter while pregnant with Birdy, I went on a peanut-butter eating binge after she was born. I ate peanut butter every day for breakfast for the first few months of Birdy’s life. Nobody told me that the allergens pass through the breast milk so Birdy was covered in eczema until a doctor told me to avoid eating peanuts as she was obviously an allergic child. Oops! We had no idea about food allergies back then!
- I’ve smacked Birdy in anger about four times and yelled at her more times than I have fingers. Not proud of those moments.
- Not having enough milk for Molly. I know shouldn’t be ashamed of this as it’s clearly not my fault, but nevertheless I am.
- Once at a wedding, when Birdy was about 18 months old, she begged and begged me for one of the beautiful cupcakes on the table, which she couldn’t eat because she was allergic to egg. I didn’t have the strength of character to keep saying ‘no’, so I gave her the flower on top of the cupcake, which I later discovered was basted with egg white. She instantly vomited all over her high chair. Sorry about that, darling.
- All the times I have sent Caillie to school without her hat/water bottle/lunch box, promised her I’d come back before recess with said hat/waterbottle/lunchbox then completely forgotten about it until midday.
- Turning up for Molly’s first appointment at the Baby Health Clinic with none of the things you need to care for a baby. No nappies, wipes, wraps, spare clothes etc. Of course she soiled her nappy 5 minutes into the appointment and I had to confess that I had nothing to change her with. Then we had to walk home in a cold wind with no wraps, blankets, pram covers etc. Not expecting a nomination for Mum of Year based on that experience.
- All the times I have glanced in the rear view mirror while stopped at the traffic lights and noticed that my child isn’t strapped into their car seat or the baby capsule isn’t secured properly.
- The fact that I am generally rubbish at housework and housekeeping.
- When I can’t be bothered cooking I’ve been known to give Birdy two minute noodles and a can of tuna for dinner. Actually I’m not too ashamed of that. It’s better than hot chips. When she eats them raw I feel slightly neglectful.
- To top it all off, I had a brilliant moment the other day when I looked out the kitchenwindow tosee that the Hills Hoist had actually snapped in half. The kids had been swinging from itwithout me realising. Fortunately nobody was crushed to death when it plummeted to earth!
My Top Ten parenting high points – here are the things I’m most proud of: (even though they are mostly the result of good fortune, circumstances and very little credit to me)
- I breast-fed Birdy for 13 months.
- Birdy never had formula, but she was as fat as a formula-fed baby anyway.
- Even though she’s allergic to peanuts, Birdy has never once had a reaction to peanuts because I have never let a peanut near her. Or even a trace of a peanut. High-five!
- I had a fantastic drug-free natural birth with Molly even though she was rather a big baby. Again, no credit to me. Or just a tiny bit. Maybe 1%.
- Birdy loves books and refuses to go to sleep without a story. She is so proud when I come and help with reading in her class each week. J
- I spent three and a half years at home with Birdy before returning to work and even then she didn’t have to go to long daycare (thanks to my husband and sister – no credit to me.)
- Um, can’t think of 7.
- Or 8.
Don’t freak out. I’ve got another 20 years to come up with four more high points. A lot can happen in 20 years. Watch this space.
What have been your parenting high and low points, or strengths and weaknesses? (Mia Freedman calls it a smug list and a crap list.) Have you ever lost a kid? What are you most proud of as a parent?