I watched Supernanny about 10 years ago. There was a family with three young daughters and they were out of control.
We had tiny tots. We had discipline. This family did not. They had rage and chaos and pain. Surely we didn’t need to see this. Surely things didn’t get this hard? How could they not make their kids behave? How could it be so bad that they felt that humiliation on national TV was a sensible idea? What on earth were they thinking?
I now know. They weren’t thinking. They were broken. And so are we.
Little did I know that 10 years on that would be us; raising gorgeous girls, publicly praised by school and friends alike. Tearing up our lives in private.
We can’t cope with our kids. We go to work to pay for their needs. So that we can pay for their hobbies and activities, so that they can have all the opportunity in life that they deserve. Yet weekends are spent doing rounds and rounds of washing – multiple sets of uniforms: school, dance, Brownies, swimming towels. Homework. So much homework. Music practise, reading practise… Yet half of this doesn’t happen.
You can’t do the cooking while you hang the washing and you can’t listen to violin practise while doing another child’s maths homework. We divide and attempt to conquer. But they want to play outside. They want to make George’s marvellous medicine goo. They want to watch Pointless Blog on the iPads. And we’re too tired / frustrated / exasperated to continuously argue.
To say, “No” constantly is exhausting. Let them run loose in the supermarket: that would be easy. Let them ignore their homework: that would be easy. To parent well is to be miserable.
We’re ungrateful though aren’t we? No one ever said it would be easy. In fact, people delight in telling pregnant women how hard it’s all going to be. But it’s too late then!
We have it all, how dare we question it? Most people don’t have any choice. Many people work two or three jobs to pay the bills. And of course, many people just can’t pay the bills. And that makes the miserable situation worse. What right have we to be miserable? What right have I to cry when the eldest child has a tantrum, about a fake wig in Claire’s accessories, or if they refuse to do their homework again? What right have I to despair? We make these choices to appear normal. To follow society’s rules.
But we could dare to be different. We could put a stop to the merry-go-round and stand for something that we believe in. We could make our own normal and proudly ditch those unreal expectations.