Nearing my 30th birthday made me question a lot of things. At 2am, while writing blog posts in my head, and gritting my teeth through another painful feed, and gazing at my beautiful baby, I thought - what do I want most of all?
I realised I want two things in this life:
I want to be a really good mum.
I want my children to always feel loved, to always feel safe, to always know that there is nothing they can do that will change how much I love them, and that they are never responsible for my happiness. I want them to know that they don't have to perform for my love. That they don't have to do anything to keep their precious place as my beloved children.
I want to be a good partner.
None of this good-wife-1950s-throwback BS, but I want my husband to know that I love him, that I appreciate him (gosh, I really hope he knows how much I appreciate him). I want him to know that every day I choose him as my partner, my friend, my teacher, my lover (well sh*t, that's not every day, but you know what I mean), and my trusted companion through everything.
I want him to know that I really love our life together. That the last, ummm, more than a decade (I can never remember how long it has been) has been amazing. And that I am grateful for everything we have given each other - obviously, most of all I'm grateful we are parents together.
So, clearly I can tell my kids and my partner all of these things. And I do. It's kind of a running joke that I'm the "I love you!" person in our house. I try not to get all scary on them with the intensity of my love for them. I don't want to accidentally swing into delusional, terrifying mothering - It's a fine line between Molly Weasley and Cersei Lannister.
But it takes more than just saying it. Actions speak louder than words and blah blah blah. I need to show it.
I try, I really do, to be a good parent and partner each day. But the thing is - I'm not.
There are days I fall really short of this goal. I get angry that my two year old won't eat just one bloody bite of food. Or that he keeps leaning out of the bloody buggy. Or that some days he whines and moans and whines and moans and I can't even understand him because his voice is so high-pitched with that awful toddler moan.
I get annoyed at the baby for clamping down on my nipples and yanking his head away with my nipple still in his mouth. I get shitty at him for refusing to settle. He's tired. I'm tired. He's fed. He's dry. Go to sleep. I seethe at my partner when he does stuff like pouring my expressed breast milk down the sink because he thought it was old (he did this two months ago, and I still feel super emotional about it). It annoys me that he gets annoyed at me for not wiping down the bench.
There are micro-aggressions. Many, many micro-aggressions.
I once got so frustrated with my son that I said "Fine, do whatever the f**k you want, I don't care". And he said "Eddie WILL do f**k wanna wan mama" and we laughed. A lot. And then I said "Don't tell your dad" and I gave him a lollipop and an Easter egg for lunch. Yes, a lollipop and an Easter egg. And that's all he ate the whole day.
And I'm starting to think that actually that's OK.
Because parenting and partnering is like that. There are days where you suck at it. And there are days where you compromise and the compromises aren't even good ones. And yes, I swear at my kids sometimes. And I feel really guilty.
But then, I get so into feeling guilty that I don't realise that it's a whole new day tomorrow. And I have a whole new day to try to do better. And I don't want to get all "hashtag" blessed on you but I don't want to waste days feeling guilty when I'm so lucky to have these days with my family.
So when it's 2am and I know I had moments where I was not a good parent the day before I try to tell myself that moments of not good parenting doesn't make me a bad parent. Moments of anger, frustration, even rage at my partner doesn't make our marriage a bad one. Our partnership isn't flawed. We're all tired. And we're all doing the best that we can.
My children aren't going to grow up to be serial killers (hopefully) because I told my oldest I would leave him at the bus stop if he didn't keep his hands in the buggy.
Because tomorrow, today - I can be better. I can respectfully explain to my son why he needs to keep his hands inside the buggy instead of snapping. I can spend more time convincing him that a kiwifruit won't kill him, that a sandwich is good for his body. I can take a deep breath and count to 10 before yelling. I can get my husband a cold drink and remember he's had a long day too when he gets home. I can let go the fact that he poured that milk down the drain.
Because I'm not perfect. And I want my kids to see that it's OK to not be perfect. As long as there's love in this home it can be an imperfect home. As long as we are trying, it'll be OK. We will have good days and bad days. We will be good to each other and appreciate that sometimes we snap at each other and that's OK - as long as we keep trying. Trying every day to do a little better.
Each day, I can work toward my goals of being a good parent and a good partner. And I will fail some days. But that's OK. These goals aren't just boxes to tick. They'll be my never ending aims. And they're examples for my children.
And I've got tomorrow if today doesn't work out.