So I dedicate this post to any mother who has given in to their screaming child at the supermarket checkout, pouring sweets down their throat 20 minutes before dinnertime just to earn 5 minutes of silence in which to pay for and load your car with shopping only to listen to someone deliver that smug, trump phrase after observing your parenting.
I have sworn at my children on numerous occasions. I'm not proud of it and pre-motherhood I would have wrinkled my nose in judgement if I heard anyone do it but that has all changed now that I know what small children do to your blood pressure.
I took all three down to the beach to play on a wonderfully old fashioned swing slung up on a tree in a nearby campsite. As we drove down, I had an Enid Blyton fantasy of photographing them on the swing individually, heads thrown back in ecstatic glee as they sliced tip-toed through the air and laughed with rapturous liberty at the blue sky and cool air whipping round their ears. Here is twin2 enjoying the swing in a much lower octane fashion and for a much shorter time than the full length Disney feature film I had spooling through my head.
Lad wasn't interested in the swing, he just wanted to climb.
That's ok though, luckily I'm an easy going kind of gal who doesn't mind if my best laid plans of magical photo opportunities are dashed. No matter. There's always the beach. I nag and cajole them to sit next to each other while I take their picture. Lad has a stick and wants me to draw his name in the sand.
'In a minute, darling, just sit here for a few seconds and say cheese then we'll do some drawing.' Twin 2 is collecting shells, twin1 is chasing a seagull. It takes some time to encourage the girls to sit next to their brother and by the time I get round to taking the picture, lad has remounted his name drawing campaign. Irritated, I swat the thing away and scream at him 'get that fucking stick out of my fucking face.'
I glance up to see a middle aged jogger grimacing in distaste at me and an elderly couple, horrified, holding hands and surveying the scene of my children shivering in the biting wind while their angry mother swears at them and dashes their healthy, wholesome, innocent fun, all in the name of a photo I could have taken after hurrying them back home in a murk of guilt and propping them in front of the TV with a warm Milo.
OK so I didn't exactly slosh heroin through their veins but I might as well have done with the adrenaline of guilt pounding through me. We all feel the same every time we swear at them/give them tinned spaghetti for the third night in a row/put on the 4th back to back DVD to hear the end of a juicy piece of gossip.
Guilt is an important part of parenting. It keeps our instincts well lubricated. I just think its important to be able to throw guilt a well timed eye roll now and then too. As the Rudd family motto goes - moderation in everything, including moderation.