What will other people think? It’s the stick I beat myself with all the time, and the stick I like the least in my life. It’s tiresome, anxiety provoking, and has caused me to become angry, short tempered and shouty with my children more times than I would care to remember. I wish I didn’t care. I so wish that I didn’t, and its definitely something I want to keep working on.
The older I get the more confident I get about all sorts of things, my perceptions, my opinions, the way I raise my kids. In some ways, I don’t give a hoot ‘what people think’ cause I’m happy doing it my way. But what I am disabled by is my endless need to consider other people’s perspectives. So, if the kids go shouting in the garden at 7.30am (like they did this morning) my focus ceases to be, oh look, they’re having a great time, and becomes more about telling them to shut it, to demonstrate to my neighbours that I am a GOOD PERSON – a considerate person…the person I want people to see me as. But in doing that I become that fish wife mother I can’t bear, hissing and yelling at her kids, and stopping them being exactly what they are – kids. Similarly, when one of the kicks off at the school gates – internally, I’m fine with it telling myself, he’s a passionate kid, kids are not automatons, he’s learning to hold it all together, he’s 5 – I get it. But because of those blessed ‘other people’ whose perceptions (for some reason) seem to matter so much to me in these moments, I start to feel panicky and overwhelmed and get the strongest urge to shut him down, appease him, just STOP him before anyone notices its all out of control. But of course its out of control. He’s a kid, I’m a parent. We are humans. And humans are messy and infinitely complex, and that should be ok.
We have a puppy. A cute and fluffy addition to our already busy home. And we’re training her to comply, to do as we want her to do. And I’m loving it. Because she just isn’t that complex. She’s a dog and she wants to please us. And all that stuff about letting her know her place in the pecking order of our family fills my heart with joy. Because its simple. And the kids aren’t. And family life isn’t. Neither should it be.
And as I write, I get it. I get why I struggle with this stuff. It my job. My professional world, in which I judge, assess and analyse other people’s parenting. Doing that, and then being a parent yourself, does things to you. It messes with your head. Invariably I assume that others are judging me in the same way that I am paid to judge others. Messy isn’t it?
I find myself wondering, usually when its all gone haywire with the kids, what would I make of this if I had my work ‘hat’ on? And then my inner judge and jury spring into action, and the result is a panicky, overwhelmed mother trying desperately to keep a lid on something that frankly shouldn’t have a lid on it at all.