Both times I was a little dumbfounded and I think I managed an "Umm... thanks... I think?" in response.
Nothing quite like a backhanded compliment, is there?
But really, I can't get too angry about it because, well, I agree. I think I'm a much better mother than I thought I'd be.
For as long as I could remember I had vowed never to have children because I knew I would fuck them up. In my mind, it was guaranteed. I’d read all about it, and seen it with my own eyes. Kids of people like me just didn’t turn out well. I thought it would be the ultimate act of selfishness to have a child knowing what I knew.
It will sound cliché, but after dating Map Guy for only a few short months everything changed. He believed in me. I was an obese, chain smoking, mentally unstable gal on a disability pension. What a catch! Re reow! But, as he tells it, he saw something in me that I didn’t.
His belief filtered through the dark, jagged forest of my thoughts on gossamer wings. It’s amazing what happens when someone believes in you and actually tells you so… firstly you think they’re quite obviously mentally unhinged and you consider sharing your anti-psychotic meds with them, but after a while, bit by bit, you start to believe it too. For the first time in my life I could see a future that was not all black clouds and hospital stays. I could see the real me underneath that he had seen all along. I could see love and joy and life. New life. Babies.
I worked hard, bloody hard, determined to not be the mother that everyone else, including me, just assumed I was going to be. Instead of letting that red flag with “people like you are bad mothers” written on it bring me down, I used it to make me a stronger, better mother, determined not to let the cycle repeat in my own house.
This is not some rose coloured glasses bullshit. I’m still pretty sure he will still end up having "issues". It is me mothering him after all. But instead of ones that will land him in juvenile detention, I’m now thinking more along the lines of this:
I think I’m a good mother. My kid is fed, clothed, kept warm and loved more than I ever knew was possible. But I could be better. I don’t want perfection. I don’t want Carol Brady. Hell, even she must have known heartache and sorrow before she got to her happily ever after. Divorced? Widowed? They never actually mention why her first marriage ended. Emotional baggage like that can't be wrapped up within a half hour show. Instead, all that baggage comes out in the day to day living of life. In the way we deal with public tantrums, the refusals to lay down for a nappy change and pain in the ass bedtime routines.
I’m joining the Parent Manifesto twelve week online course to become the mother I want to be. I've read the book and I liked how it wasn't a "you must do this and the world will be rainbows and lollipops" set of instructions, that you could pick and choose what to implement in a way that suited your own family. The course, I'm hoping, will cement it further and help me put it all in to practice.
So what do I want to get out of this opportunity? I want to learn how to stop mumbling “for fuck’s sake” under my breath when Tricky throws a tantrum at 4:00am like he did the other morning (don’t ask, it’s a long story punctuated with many tears). I want to learn how to handle a toddler who is pushing boundaries left, right and centre but is just too little to fully reason with. Basically, I want to enjoy my wine after bedtime, not resort to it.
If you’d like to join me, the online course starts on the 10th of September, runs for 12 weeks and costs $127. That’s just over $10 a week to become a better parent. You can register by clicking here or the image below. If you enter the codeword 'FRIEND' (cos y'all are my friends, right?) you'll get a $20 discount.
A few times over the next three months I’ll be checking in and letting you know how I’m going. A no-holds-barred look at my parenting skills or lack thereof. This will be an interesting ride.
Do you want to be a better parent? If you could change one thing about your parenting, what would it be?
This is not a sponsored post but does contain affiliate links. My participation in the course is complimentary and as always all opinions are my own and completely truthful.