Somewhere along the past ten years, I became the sort of parent I always swore I would never become. I became a grumpy mum who almost always says no. I don’t know how or when it happened, but I think the transformation started from Maia’s terrible twos, degenerated when Robin came along and I had to learn to split myself in two and came to a head with Ivy’s arrival. The sad thing is that I never even saw it coming.
It was my own daughters who brought the fact to my attention every time they started any request with the words “I know you’ll say no but…”. Apparently, I always have a valid reason for turning down their demands. It’s either too hot to go outside (or too cold), cinemas are too crowded in winter and therefore full of germs, most snacks have too much sugar in them, certain times of the day are off limits because they are Ivy’s naptimes…you get the idea. What’s worse, I realised that I was becoming increasingly negative with my eldest who, at ten years of age, is going through momentous changes. She needs me and my support more than ever but was only finding resistance from my end. So, this weekend, I decided that the situation needed to be remedied.
Last Saturday, I sent Robin to my parents’ house for the afternoon. She had been unwell for three days and needed a change of scene anyway but I also had an ulterior motive. This would be the day I pulled the rug from underneath Maia’s feet. I would be a YES mum! So, as soon as she came back from three days at her best friend’s house, I announced that we would spend some quality time together while we were alone (obviously, Ivy was there all along but she blends into the background most days, bless her). The second I uttered those words, she whipped out a notebook and wrote a list of things she wanted to do. I winced a little at some of the items listed but reminded myself there was no reason to say no to any of them. “Say yes…say yes…say yes”, I muttered to myself.
The highlight of the afternoon was when she painted my nails a bright coral. She was so happy she had finally been allowed to give me a manicure (her latest craze) that I might have even agreed to a weekly manicure. We then baked banana bread, even though we’re having a heat wave right now and it’s already a bazillion degrees in our flat without putting on the oven. We also went shopping for completely unnecessary things like more nail polishes, a nail dotting tool (the existence of which was unknown to me), another hair brush and another pair of flip flops. Then I decided to go crazy and let her eat at McDonalds, biting my tongue so I wouldn’t comment on the health effects of their ‘food’. We ended the day back home, munching on banana bread, watching The Truman Show and discussing reality shows until midnight.
So, in one afternoon, I broke a host of rules with a smile on my face (through gritted teeth at first, but more genuinely as the day went on). The result? I was calmer and she was happy. We reconnected. She even shared a secret with me. Was it worth it? Yes, a hundred times over. I am even looking forward to my next manicure!