Today I cancelled my child’s birthday party.
Well, technically it was the ‘small afternoon tea’ at the park that had already replaced a cancelled birthday party. Never the less, it is cancelled and there will be no birthday celebrations with friends this year.
I should feel awful about it, but I don’t. In fact, I have to do this sort of thing all the time. I’ve cancelled attending other friend’s parties, family dinners, sporting events, special occasions, play dates – the list goes on and on. I’m a Very Mean Mum and I’m okay with that.
I keep my children on a pretty short lead it seems. I don’t believe you can honestly compare yourself to other parents because who knows what families are really like at home; but the vibe I get is that I’m fairly strict. I’m always verbally pulling my children into line, and letting them know how I expect them to behave – particularly when we’re out and about. Expectations, warnings and consequences are all part of our daily conversations, which sounds tedious (and it is) but it works for us.
I haven’t always been like this, though. I think for the most part it’s something I’ve learned I need to do over the past almost-eight-years. While I’ve heard people say that my husband and I are “too strict” on the kids, I’ve also seen the looks and the whispers of others who believe I let my kids run wild. The truth is that no matter which way you choose to raise your children, you’re never going to win. Friends, family and strangers alike will always have an opinion about what you should or should not be doing – and it will rarely side with you.
These days I shrug off the glares of “feral children,” or throw away comments of “let kids be kids.” I’ll give you a little insight into my parenting life that I don’t talk about often: I have a child diagnosed with ADHD. I’ll write more just about that another day; however what I will share with you now is that the condition is more than just the “naughty” / “hyperactive” / “needs disciplining” stereotype it’s given. It affects the person’s ability to listen and respond appropriately, to concentrate and follow instructions, to control impulsive behaviour and regulate their emotions. It’s a lot of hard work for the child – and the parent too.
We’ve only had this diagnosis for the past six or so months (though I’ve had concerns for quite awhile), but it’s something that affects the whole family and the way we function. Helping the child to manage themselves requires strict routine, consistency and consequences.
And while there are days that I cry myself dry about how I wish I didn’t have to be on all the time – that I could just be the fun mum for awhile – I know that tough love (combined with all the cuddly soft love children need) is going to benefit all of my kids the most.
So we’re not having a birthday party this week.
But hell, we may just have cake for breakfast instead.