Becoming a parent makes you lose control of a lot of things – your finances, your social life, your pelvic floor muscles – but it should be possible to maintain the illusion of being in control. Whilst your time may not be your own, you can still be in charge. Trouble is, I’m not in charge anymore. I’ve lost it. I’m flailing wildly whilst being hit over the head with balloons, pelted with peas and fleeced for poor quality soft toys and cheap plastic goods.
Let me give you an example. Every mother knows that when you have kids you give up the right to pee in private. The other morning, with my 5-year-old being uncooperative with her school shoes and my 3-year-old iPadding, I saw a rare opportunity to grab some solo toilet action. (Normally on the pre-school run pee I find myself wedged into our cupboard-sized downstairs toilet with both children, the light being switched on and off and trying to stop them flushing whilst I’m mid flow.) Ah, the joy of not having to defend why I chose a particular pair of knickers that day or explain why we have ‘winkies’. Sadly, the sound of the flush broke the spell of the iPad:
3yo: [screaming] NOOOOO! Do it again!
Me: What? Do what again?
3yo: Go for a wee again!
Me: But I’ve just been. I don’t need to go again.
3yo: [Eyes now spilling more water than a blocked u-bend] DO IT AGAIN!!!
So what does any self-respecting parent in search of a quiet life do? I go through the whole process of going to the toilet again. Just so he can be there with me. I’ve lost control in my house to such an extent that even my bodily functions are dictated by my children.
Is seeking a quiet life devoid of tantrums effectively handing the reins to Little Dictators or does it actually help parents stay in control? I would argue the latter simply to justify my lack of parenting balls. Taking the path of least resistance certainly helps me get out of the front door – I rarely have time to employ Supernanny-esque techniques and sit out the tantrums, nor do I have the patience – and sometimes that’s just enough to keep control of my (teetering) sanity.
On the other hand, I’m well aware that I’m most likely creating little monsters and the much-maligned rod for my own back. I’ve wiped their noses, wiped their bums and now I move the potty (complete with child) so that it’s closer to the plug for charging the iPad that my son needs to help him focus on doing a poo. (I’m potty training so cut me some slack.) How long before my lack of authority comes back to bite me on the backside, leaving not the imprint of milk teeth but of teenage teeth too late for turning?
To undo all my bad work I need to transform from Maid to Matriarch. It’s a makeover that will require more than a quick visit to the Boots make-up counter – we’re talking a full-blown injection of parenting botox and possibly a large dose of Mother’s Ruin. Wish me luck.