Everything I believe about parenting centres on a loving and nurturing approach. I try to be soft and gentle. I minimise unnecessary instructions and rules, reserving my right to be bossy for things like crossing the road or not touching the hot stove. I don’t fuss about food going on the floor, and who cares if my daughter refuses to brush her hair one day. I feel passionately against smacking children. It is the one cause I would take to the streets, or go on the Today show to speak up against. I know it does no good, and I know there are alternative ways to teach children about life.
I am not the perfect mother. I don’t even try to be. I try to be a loving mother, and that’s about all. I still check Facebook on my phone while Elka rocks on the see-saw. On nights when my husband works, I buy pre-prepared meals so I don’t have to wash up. And laundry takes about a week to get from washing basket to a clean pile in the cupboard. Sometimes two.
But there is a part of myself I resent. A dark shadow that rims the radiance. A monster. There is an uncontrollable temper that lives in me; something so deeply ingrained that even the haughtiest values will not quell its evil thirst. It is the monster that squeezes my daughter too tightly when I am mad. That yells into the face of a crying child out of shear frustration. That snatches a wet painting out of small hands before it lands on the couch. I remedy with a hug and a long apology, but I don’t know if my harshness will be forgotten. Perhaps it’s coded into Elka’s little mind and little heart; a seed of doubt planted that grows into a tree of distrust. It doesn’t happen much, but it has happened, and I resent everything about it. I just want to cry and crawl into a ball under a hot shower to make the pain go away.