If there is one thing no-one ever deems to tell you when you talk about having children, or announcing pregnancies or even right after you bring your little bundle of joy home, it is how inadequate that tiny being can make you feel. If you are like me, already burdened with your own mental mind field of insecurities (If not, well, bully for you!), trust me, that little person will amplify those feelings! From the moment that little person enters your life, nothing, and I mean nothing you do or say is good enough!
Once they become older, with minds of their own, it starts with little things, like: “why on earth, mother would you choose to cut my sandwiches into triangles today when I feel like having them in squares?” (Never mind the fact that you didn’t even know they could be cut into squares until you visited your friend’s house last weekend.) “How could you not mind-read that from that point onward I too, only eat sandwiches that have been cut into squares.” And after a long day, having slaved away to cook dinner, suddenly, little petal has decided that she hates whatever it is you made and she no longer eats it, inadvertently saying “Your cooking, mommy, is just not good enough for me to eat”. And why, put anything nice (like a slice of cold meat) in the lunchbox sarmies only to have it returned (with one bite taken out, so that big brother, despite the fact that he would eat it any other way, now pulls his nose up at said sandwich because his sister infected it with her cooties.) with a little comment like: “I only want butter on my bread and nothing else!”
Then there are the medium-sized things. Like when other parents (or even non-parents!) presume to tell you how you should raise your child and what you are doing wrong. Like the day I left my child to finish her tantrum in the middle of Woolies. I walked away and was watching her from a safe distance (and by safe I mean far enough so no-one would know the little demon belonged to me!) until she had finished. As I approached her again, en elderly couple could be heard tisk-tisking as they walked by. Definitely not how they would have handled that one, I guess?
It is as if the entire universe starts castigating you for everything you are doing wrong. The other day, a truck drove by my on the highway with a sign that read: “Don’t drive tired. Stop to rest“. I took it as a major accusation, seeing as how I have been tired since the year 2000! To be fair, not all of that can be linked to children. In those years, I would give up sleep quite voluntarily in order to have fun with varsity friends. Later, it was so I could work on building that “career” we all think we ought to have. (Fat lot of good that did me, by the way!) I wonder if there is a way one could “bank” and then go back to retrieve all the lost sleep one gave up out of one’s own volition…? But I digress! Since the kids came, I cannot remember the last time I woke up actually feeling rested.
Then there are the big things. The major things. The things that leave you powerless and speechless and angry and sad. Those things that you can do absolutely nothing about – the epitome of inadequacy! Like when your son comes home and tells you that that friend he took all year to make, told him at break-time: “I don’t want to be your friend anymore”. (I thought it was a girl-thing, that, but apparently I was sadly mistaken!) It breaks your mommy-heart and you want to tell your child it will be OK. But you are not sure it will. And there is not one single thing you can do about the situation except wait and see how it plays out, hoping and praying all the while that there will be a positive outcome.
It is heart-breaking and gut-wrenching and leaves you feeling totally and utterly helpless. And this is where one feels most the inadequate of all…