I Love Them But…

by | Jan 13, 2013 | Little Parenting, MOTHERHOOD | 14 comments

Love Actually

I have a million and one things to do. Yeah, I'm still singing that old tune and don't look to be stopping any time soon. 

But seriously, all the things. Yes, most of them are borne of my own towering expectations. Do more and do it better, Angie. Or, you know, die.

I would tell anyone living this way that it is impossible to live this way. In fact, I am telling myself right now but myself is not listening. Myself is writing lists of things she will fail to achieve today.

This morning I awoke quite free of the normal low-level anxiousness to get something quantifiable done. This low-level angst most often sees me yelling at the kids because they get in the way of the thing I feel I really should be doing and then they're upset and requiring more of me, one cries so loud as to wake up the baby who took me half an hour to put down and then the whole day falls in a screaming heap as we console ourselves over take-away pizza. Again.

But this morning looked like it was going to be different. I was going with the flow. We took our sweet time with breakfast, then we got dressed – nobody cried! – and then we hung out making block monsters. Then we played block monsters vs cars. It was so fucking boring. The kids were in heaven. Next it was craft time. I'm not even joking. I got out the glitter glue and the pipe cleaners and fuck me, if we didn't sit around making some of the ugliest collages you ever did see. 

In between times, I ran interference with Harlow and made various meals and drinks. I was in mum mode – completely and totally, no distractions. I didn't so much as Instagram a photo of the crafting table (although I did think about it). 

And when I finally called time so that I could maybe do something kid-free like, oh I don't know, go to the toilet, it was still too much to ask.

Which means that it doesn't matter how much time and attention you lavish on your children, they will always want more. And it's not because they're selfish, spoilt little shits but because life is never better for them than when you, the parent, are smack in the middle of it.

And the whisper-quiet confession of my heart says that I do not feel the same. 

Of course, I can not see my life without my three precious children in it. They are everything to me. But not everything. You know?

I like it when they are more on the periphery of my day – we cross paths constantly but we all have our own things to do.   

Today I thought I was doing an exemplary job of being 'Mum' and in the end, I felt no better for it. I did what I was supposed to do and….resented it.

I sound like a beast. I know I do. Why have kids if you don't actually want to be with them?

Caring for three small children day in, day out is demanding. My choice, certainly, but demanding nonetheless. I allow myself that. But still, some people are better at this. Much better. Some people enjoy devoting their days to their children, completely giving themselves over to their care without regret.

There is the whole argument that children need to spend time playing alone, developing their imaginations, occupying themselves. I certainly don't recall my mum and dad playing with me all day. From a very early age, I was good at making my own fun. I suspect I preferred it.

But whether I think kids could be more independent (I do), it doesn't negate the fact that I don't want to make them my entire focus, and I really don't want to play with them….ever. I love chatting with them and reading to them. I'll snuggle them on the couch through a zillion episodes of Peppa Pig. And nothing is more fascinating to me than watching their play from afar but I don't really want to be on the floor with the dinosaurs and cars.

I want to witness their life, not be it.

I am sad that they are growing up. And I'm not.

I love them so much and never so much as when I've had a breather from them.

I know I am not the only one to feel this way. And I am eternally grateful that I have the choice to stay at home with them rather than juggle a job I don't love with trying to run a family. But if I could have a nanny come in for a few hours a day so that I could GET STUFF DONE without their sweet and relentless faces in mine, I would. I really, really would.

And whether those feelings are normal or not, I can't help but think maybe I wasn't cut out to be a mother.

But then there is Zig, spied over the top of this laptop, trying so very hard to do up the button at the top of his jeans. I tried to sneak a photo of it but I was a second too late and he was in front of me, asking if I could do it up for him. I said yes but "can you go back into the bathroom and pretend to try and do them up again so that I can take a photo?"

He said no.

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*Caveat: this post isn't really about Harlow because she is a baby and the care of a baby is something quite different. For the record, caring for all three of my children when they were little babes remains one of the greatest joys of my life. I am finding this stage with the boys (ages 5 and 3) infinitely harder. You need far more tricks up your parenting sleeve. All I seem to have is used tissues…..

Hello friends


I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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  1. Dani

    Oh I hear you, most of my daughter’s life I studied from home, she enjoyed playing by herself, until lately when she wants someone to play hide and seek all the time, I feel bad she is an only child, but I dont hide and seek, I think as they get older it’s harder to keep them entertained!

  2. Mumabulous

    Hello normal! I love my three year old daughter to the moon and back but dread three little words from her “Play with me”. Meanwhile my five year old daughter is relatively self sufficient and is showing signs of becoming a reasonable person. It will get better for you. In the meantime you may have to recruit friends and family to give you some much needed head space.

  3. Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad

    You and I are having the same day girlfriend. FARRRKKK!!All day I was making such little progress on the to-do, never ending jobs list and the husband and boy were generally just breaking me down and making my life harder ALL DAY LONG. Couldn’t get the boy in bed earlier let me tell you and then he found every excuse to get back out again. I got a bit screamy then which I try and not do, and then there were tears, from both of us. When people tell me I’m a good mother, this is the day I want to show them and say yeah? Really? cos this is how it goes sometimes… And I only have 1. Yikes. I’ve locked myself in for at least 10 more years of insanity right by only adding another little body? Anyway, I think I’ve just vented way too much but what I was trying to convey was that – shit goes down and it’s shitty and feeling like you wrote about are normal.. cos every Mum does days like this even if they don’t care to admit it. You do and I love that. And now I have written way too much and am boardering on dilerious…

  4. Kylie

    Wow, I could have written this post and was today having a rant to my grandma, the kids great grandma about how in my face Miss 3 and Master 6 are, I dont recall as a kid EVER hanging around my parents or them playing with me and like yourself I just cannot get enthused to play lego hero or cars, puzzles I will do and craft always turns to tears and tantrums (me the tantrums!). Your doing a great job Angie and I love that you can be totally honest about it therefore others, myself included, feel normal.

  5. Kerri

    I am working on being ok with not doing the things I dislike with my kids (craft!) and focus more on the things that I (and they) love doing! I would throw myself in front of a bus for my children…….but glitter glue…..CANNOT DO IT! Where is the sense in that?
    We learn to parent from our parents and interestingly I have very little memory of my mother playing with me, and from the way she interacts with my children I don’t think she liked/likes playing……which goes some way in helping me to understand my aversion to it.
    Just keep focusing on the things you do do well with them and less on the things you don’t! Besides, as someone said to me one day, they have no one to compare you to….you’re their only Mum and I bet they love you to pieces (as my kids do me).
    Kerri x

  6. Kea

    My mum played with us ALL the time, especially crafty stuff as she loved it and read to us every day and guess what? I can’t remember it at all!! I have to take her word for it (and photos) So I don’t stress about it that much. As long as they know they are loved I think that’s all that matters. And hats off for snuggling through peppa pig. I’d rather eat cockroaches than willingly sit and watch anything on abc for kids. When Harlow is bigger it will be interesting for you because little girls LOVE little jobs and helping out with work. When I’m ready to get things done i just say ‘mummy needs to do this now will you help me?’ Kate helps for about 30 seconds then disappears to play on her own 🙂
    Personally I find it hard at the moment because my bub is 7 weeks and feeding/attached to me constantly and when he’s sleeping I don’t really have the energy to play or give 🙁 hope this phase passes soon as the mummy guilt I feel about neglecting her in the play area is terrible!

  7. Claudine Innes

    I only have one word Angie; Ditto!

  8. melbo

    Oh, you are so normal. Mothering is all consuming, all absorbing and sometimes we just need a bloody break from it. I don’t think anyone is immune to these feelings although they may not always admit it.

    I had been blaming daycare for overstimulating R so that he expected me to do everything with him. Now I’m starting to realise it’s just him and we’re just normal … 😉

    Like Kea, I’ve been trying to “teach” mine to help as a way to still get some stuff done and have some “fun time”. I know, I’m using a lot of “inverted commas” but that’s because you and I both know that there is only so much “fun time” you can have with housework. Unless it involves a roll of paper towel and bottle of Windex of course.

    Don’t ever show them the toilet brush … just a caution. Things that can be stuck into other things will eventually make more work for you one way or another.

    I think this wanting you to play with them all the time is definitely a preschool thing. I notice that demand on my services has gone up since W started school. He likes to do things on his own sometimes but R isn’t quite there yet. He definitely likes company for activities, even if your role is largely peripheral and you have to do whatever it is exactly the way he wants it done or there’s trouble.

    I think you were brave with the glitter glue … I’m still sweeping that stuff up after Christmas so I’m way too scared to go there yet.


  9. zanni, heart mama

    So many feel like you! I definitely encourage independence and love when we all do our own thing at home. It’s why we go out so much. My daughter’s so fascinated by her world and busy with it; I am just there to hold her hand. We have intense cuddles and a lot of love through the day but I love when she’s in her world. Parenting wasn’t meant to be done in isolation. We are group animals and meant to share this load. Kids are meant to hang out in groups of other kids. Mums are meant to get support from other Mums. I’m sure that’s why so many feel like you Angie. X

  10. Rachel

    It won’t be long long now and those little chickies will start to wonder off from the group a little. They will come back, but you will start to see a little independence soon, maybe 1/2 hr of playing together. Then that time will gradually grow. School is also a big help (my sanity saver) even having 1 at school makes a big difference. Hang in there Hun. We know exactly how you feel.

  11. Madeleine

    That’s just it. They’ll never have enough of you playing with them! I’ve found that, too, on days where I (think) I’ve been giving oodles of attention to them – it’s still not enough. So… I’m back to encouraging as much guilt-free independent play as possible. There are only so many tea parties I can sit through – especially with a bossy-boots 3 yo who likes to dictate what I say even say when we play.

    Don’t feel bad, love. xx

  12. Jacqui

    Oh I think that we are the norm! And we are excellent mothers who will have a life after the children move out! Plus, so much harder when you can’t lock yourself in the toilet becuase your 4 year old has worked out how to unlock the door from the outside.

  13. Sasha

    I think every mother feels like this at some point, whether they’re ready to admit it or not. Looking after one or more little people 24/7 is fecking hard!
    There’s nearly a 5 year age gap between my son & daughter, I always give in to playing because I feel bad he doesn’t have anyone else to play with! Like others commented my mother didn’t sit down & play with myself or my siblings..ever! I don’t think we would’ve wanted her too, but she was always ready with the crafts or reading.

  14. Tanya

    Wow I could have written that post. Word for fricking word. I have two boys 5 and 3 also and I made the heartwrenching decision that as much as I wanted to try for a girl – I really could not handle another child. I would love them it’s true but I wouldn’t handle the added workload. We live on a large cattle and sheep station and it is very dry and I just feel like I am constantly pushing shit up hill! I have been very screamy today as I turn from trying to complete one task to see another messier one has popped up or try and make important calls for my small work from home job only to have the 5 year old on the other phone asking a million questions! So to read this today has been sensational. Not that you feel like shit lol but just that I am not alone!! Now where is that beer…..


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