I’ve spoken before about never really thinking I had the temperament for parenting. Throughout my teenage years and early twenties I told anyone who would listen that I didn’t want kids;
“I’m not patient enough, I get angry a lot, and I love sleep. I’d be a rubbish mum!”
In fact, until I actually had a child, there was only one person in the entire of existence that I had ever confided in about wanting to have children. I think what I actually said was “I want kids right now!” which in hindsight might have been a bit scary! Nevertheless we made a pact that if neither of us had children by a certain age that we would do it (we chose names and everything!).
Needless to say the pact wasn’t needed, and over time we have drifted apart, a friendship reduced to glimpses of each other’s lives on social media. Which is probably a good thing given that we are both prone to outbursts of emotion, anger and opine! And it is exactly these parts of my personality that I truly believed would hinder my parenting success. Basically, sometimes I behave fairly similarly to my unpredictably emotional nearly-three-year-old, so how the hell am I supposed to parent her?!
As it turns out, my personality and temperament affect my parenting in both positive and negative ways.
Sometimes the inability to control my emotional outbursts results in behaviour towards my child which I regret, such as raising my voice unnecessarily, getting frustrated too easily, and even the odd (if odd means A LOT) whinge… But the fact that I openly display my emotions has taught Amelia that it is ok to have emotions and to express those emotions. No-one wants to raise an emotionally repressed child, and while the parenting stage where we are supposed to teach them how to manage those emotions can seem like a fruitless pursuit, I’d rather that than an emotionally incompetent teenager on my hands.
Sometimes my anger and temper flare up when really I would rather they didn’t. I’m prone to the usual triggers; tiredness, hunger etc (see, told you I’m like a three-year-old!) and these can lead me to angry outbursts which neither of the kids are fond of. By angry outbursts, what I mean is that I will yell at myself, at inanimate objects, and at life in general. Sometimes I will even physically punish inanimate objects; picture me opening a cupboard in the kitchen, bag of pasta falls out, and then picture me yelling at that bag of pasta… I might even pick up that bag of pasta and hurl it if I’m exceptionally tired/hungry/whatever… It’s so ridiculous it borders on comical.
These occasions of anger, however, allow me to reflect later with the children, especially if Amelia (Wills is a bit young yet) sees my outburst. I always try to use these occurrences to talk with her about what is ok and what is not ok when we are angry. As far as I am concerned, hurling a bag of pasta at the wall is acceptable (and mildly cathartic), whereas hurling a cat would probably be frowned upon. When Amelia is feeling angry, I am perfectly happy for her to go to her bedroom and throw something if it mean that she doesn’t resort to violence against her parents or brother.
Finally, there’s my opinionated nature. I will admit that as I have got older I have learned a little bit about when and where my opinion is wanted, relevant, or necessary, but this doesn’t mean that I am any less opinionated. I know better now that I am older to take steps to ensure that my opinions are well-informed, and researched if necessary. But I am still very opinionated. And actually I don’t think that is a bad thing, at least not as far as my parenting goes. I am always very conscious of ensuring that my kids are free to form and express their opinions, whether it be about something they like or don’t like, or about something they do or do not want to do.
This is not say that I let Amelia do/say/eat whatever she wants simply because she expresses it, but I do always try to ensure that I respect her opinion. A prime example is an item of clothing that she was bought for Christmas; I have made no secret about the fact that I do not like the item in question, and Amelia has equally made no secret of this;
“Well I like it Mummy, so I’m going to wear it!”
Fair play, kid.