I sometimes feel like two different women are writing this blog. There’s the one who calmly happily relates how spring is putting a beat in her step, and then therez’s the one who sits, one sock off and one sock on, baby on her boob, stuffing Curly Wurly into her mouth to stop the tears over the roasted french grains soaking slowly into the carpet while in the background another round of “No!No!NOOoOO Mummy!” starts up.
When M was only a few months old, an intuitive friend suggested the book “Raising a Spirited Child”, recognising this dimension of him I hadn’t yet seen. Her intuition, gleamed from raising three of her own was right; M is a sensitive soul. Whether it’s in his distress at any mess – mealtimes or crafts are tricky – or confusion at being unable to lift a too heavy rock, this little man is in endless confusion which manifests the only way he knows how, with screaming at me in a tantrum. I wish I could say I let all these tantrums ride but I wish they had written a “Spirited Parent” book also, for within this confuddled two-year old darling I recognise too those tantrums in me. When I see steam rise in billows from his soul I’m reminded to pour water on my own, and its this most of the time not his tantrum itself that sends me sobbing into chocolate as a poor Muslim substitute for wine, knowing that it’s in prayer I should find solace but lacking the peace then to pray.
Watching your less desirable traits manifest in your child is like an unwanted confrontation with your post-baby wobbles in a mirror: you’re forced to take in all the blotches. I’ve written here before how I firmly believe you must be the change to command it of others and I guess that’s where my struggle is now. To help M find away to exorcise his own demons I must too tame my spirited child. So I distract, and I reason, I empathise and I do monkey dances. And when the house is calm when the boys are in bed as I mop up the traces of their fun through the day I take time then to recall my behaviour, my responses and engagements with them that past day and like it or not I force myself to take stock of the moments I was a less than calm Mum, and promise to do it better tomorrow. Then in the morning through sleepy-head cuddles I apologise for my mistakes yesterday and make a deal we’ll do it better today. Because right now that’s all that I’ve got, the reassurance to him we can change this together and a reminder to me that to show him is worth a million of tellings, and a hug is a cure for it all.