In a million, trillion years I am not a great parent, a goodish one, yes, a moderately passable one, yes-ish. So for me to achieve greatness, I have a long way to go. A super, loooooonnnngggg way. Like 30 thousand miles plus, of an arduous and highly lengthy journey. In reality I totally do not have my shit together in the semblance of any form of an acceptable package.
I swear too much in front of my kids, always with the caveat that, only I can do that and it is not until they leave my home can a “fuck you, you ass hole” ever pass their lips. After 5 pm, it is not the witching hour for my kids, but for me. Excessive noise, screaming and shouting, too much homework, will send me into a whirling dervish melt down, frenzy, maybe a little wall kick or two. I too am a mere human, with an extreme sensitivity to too many people and too much noise> Therefore, technically I am kinda buggered, that I gave birth to 3 boys, hence 2 kids too many and 2 boys too many, if any shred of sanity was going to survive. Swimming, counselling, lots of love, hugs and the occasional bottle of wine, will sooth the pain.
So then, it got me to thinking, would I be a better parent if I lived closer to my parents and family. If all that pressure was taken off my shoulders and I could drop them off for an afternoon or evening and decompress. So I could readjust and just be. Even pee without an audience would be awesome, “mama can I see your poo poo?” the resounding answer BTW is a ” HELL NO”. I feel there are so many positives for being closer to family and not living 5000 miles away. However, is it any easier for those who do live near their folks, are some decisions made for you, without you knowing, do you feel obliged to have to conform to family traditions that you may not like or even agree with? I do think a lot of guilt could also play a part on not wanting to conform, are there too many influences in the kids life, your life, too much can be as tiring as too little? That type of pressure must be immense.
However,I do feel my kids miss out hugely on extended family, cousins and grandparents and I miss out on a web of love to fall back on. I believe, I would parent more effectively and a touch calmer maybe, if the support was there. I know for sure, I would be richer, if we did not have to pay babysitters just to get adult time. Yet on the flip side, my children get all of me, the good, bad and ugly. They understand my humanity and they also know, I am not always right and that I am flawed and love them until I hurt and that is OK, it is OK not to cope and cry and release their emotions, maybe that is why my house is SO LOUD, wild, raucous and emotional.
Yet, parenting is not a walk in the park, no matter what situation you are in. You are perpetually tired, stressed, bombarded emotionally from all angles, no kid is perfect and neither are we. We do the best we can with the village and tools provided to us. People ask how you do it, but the answer for all, is you have to, there is no alternative, if we do not do it, who will? No one ever knows the full situation, of your life, what lies beneath the skin, at the core of you, its still you, a person, a parent, someone who needs love and care as well.
The up shot is, I think I would be a better mother if I were near my family, but I also do not dislike the way I do parent, I am constantly working at it, I have made all my own decisions for good and bad. This was my choice and I live with it every day and every day I do feel guilty for my kids that we are so far away, but, I remember they also have a quality of life, that we could not have provided for them in England. They have so many opportunities that I never had as a kid and I want them to play golf, tennis, hockey, learn to ski, sail boats etc etc, we could never have given them that back home, we just would not have had the money. We get to see daddy ever night, in the UK he would be commuting and never home. So I do not feel sorry for our choices, yet always,a little sad we are so far away, as I miss our families deeply ,their love, laughter and eccentricities.
However, to all parents, I say this. To those who do it alone, the single parent homes, the homes who also look after the grandparents, the homes with help, no help, money, no money, the homes where parents have their own issues, kids with disabilities, illnesses. Remember,we are all the same. Be kind to each other, help each other on this journey we are on, it can get long and it can be lonely, talk to each other, share the greatness and the shitness of your day, as we have all been there at some point.
We love our kids, we do our best, we fail, we succeed, we laugh, we cry, we do the fucking best job we can and then try to do it better and that is what parenting is all about.