What word do you think describes parenthood best?
Love, patience, dedication…they all come to mind.
But lately one stands out more than the rest – compromise.
Having an outspoken, hard-headed five-year old and an adventurer for a nearly two-year old makes our household a noisy and dangerous one. Lately everything seems to be questioned, and what till now was a small and quite safe home has become a minefield for Bettina. She creates danger in places I see as being safe.
Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I stand still for minutes in the living room wondering how two children can create so much chaos in the time it takes me to hang the clothes. Every couple of weeks Cesca invents new languages – she has three right now – Mio, Spanishina and Pinkie. To her delight Bettina speaks Spanishina (do not ask), but gets angry when I do not remember what water is in Mio.
Sometimes (and briefly, don’t worry) I fantasize about locking myself in my room with a big mug of wine and closing my eyes. Mummies hiding wine bottles come to mind, and I sympathize.
So it is all about deep breaths and counting to ten. Because after an early start to the day, a day’s work at the office and at home, and handling two little terrors, I get tired. I really can’t be bothered learning new words, or picking up toys for the millionth time.
Therefore I have become an expert at compromise. I have long given up on expecting their four little ears to pick up what I am saying. So I barter. I have become one of those mothers who exchanges gifts for favours. I threaten them with things they hate in order for them to do something they hate. And I have wisely learnt to choose my battles.
So Cesca gets no ice-lolly after dinner if she does not pick up her mess. The cartoons get switched off for an hour if I get too angry. And revision will be three pages instead of two. As for Bettina, her weak spot is food. So I work around the sweet side of that. They get to open new boxes of toys held in storage if they work with me on tidying up, and I even let Cesca play with Playdoh if she is really good.
And if they give me too much hassle for a small errand, I just bite my tongue and do it myself. Some things are too menial to get worked over for nothing. It might not be the way to parent, but it saves on the Panadols later on in the day.
Yes, parenthood for me is all about compromise.