The photo above is of a very brave little two and a half year old about to go into to surgery to have her tonsils out.
About 10 minutes after that photo was taken the shit hit the fan. Big time. Not because of anything medical – she just wasn’t allowed to have a yoghurt. She really wanted yoghurt. Pretty much everyone in the hospital knew that she wanted yoghurt.
And so off we went to the operating theatre with a screaming toddler, a flustered but trying to be cool, calm and collected mother and a nurse who probably wished she’d called in sick that day.
Everything went fine – she sailed through the operation and by that afternoon was running around the ward with her frantic father trying to keep pace with her cannula pole!
Even that night (which I had dreaded since the day we had booked her in for surgery) went smoothly – with the aid of intravenous pain killers she slept through the night – probably the most peaceful night sleep she’s had since she was born.
But that’s kind of where the smooth sailing ends.
Our Sweet Pea is a not a “breezy” girl. She’s always been what I like to refer to as spirited. She knows what she wants and by god she’s going to get it. And don’t we know it.
This past week has probably been the toughest in my parenting career since those first nightmarish six months when sleep, hers and ours, was a thing of the past. Our Sweet Pea has been anything but sweet – she’s been rude, demanding, sullen, aggressive and generally not very likeable at all. And the screaming. Oh my fucking god don’t get me started on the screaming. We have felt like we have been living in a war zone. It’s not an occasional melt down either – it’s pretty much all. bloody. day. And don’t think there is any rhyme or reason to this behaviour, Oh no, that would be too easy. What made her happy and content ten minutes earlier is now the one thing that has sent her wailing off the edge – with us wanting to follow.
I know she is only two and a half, and I know she has just been through a major operation for someone of her age. And I am trying to remind myself of these things in the midst of the screaming rages. But another part of me just thinks and thinks and thinks…
Is something wrong?
Like, seriously wrong?
My professional background is the worst for this type of thinking – I start to imagine all sorts of things. Bad things. Difficult things.
And then comes the blame game.
This must be my fault. I’m doing something wrong. I’m not doing something right. I’ve fucked up.
I have a baby journal for Sweet Pea that I started to put together when I was pregnant. It has a section where I had to write about my fears about becoming a mum and in that section I have written “I don’t want to fuck up”. I don’t want to make a mess of this tiny little person who is reliant on me to guide her through the world.
And as ridiculous as it may seem, every time she is screaming for (seemingly) no reason and I can see the unhappiness in her eyes I return to that fear and wonder if I am fucking this mum thing up already. Because my greatest fear as a parent is getting it wrong, failing her. When failure is not an option.
How about you? What’s your greatest fear as a parent? How do you cope when the days are tough?