It’s close to midnight on a Sunday. I’ve already changed the sheets on Bella’s bed twice, as she’s been vomiting due to a tummy bug. Ally wonders out of bed claiming she needs to wee AGAIN, and I can hear Dina moaning from the bedroom “mummy, I want my dummy”. Standing in my pyjamas, one boob hanging out and covered in vomit, mop in my right hand and the carpet cleaner in the other, I think to myself ‘don’t call me mummy, look at me, I’m a freakin’ superhero!’
To my husband’s defence I will add that he is in bed suffering from the same tummy bug – in case you were wondering. This carries on all night, me changing sheets, the girls and my husband taking turns at needing me, and by morning I feel like a dead zombie corpse that has just returned from hell itself, and I probably smell like crap too.
One of my favourite sentences that I say to my kids when they’re being overly demanding (which is very often) is: “I’m not an octopus”. I say this when it is literally, physically impossible to do what they ask of me, like lift up the car just so they can see what it looks like upside-down, or magically make more french fries appear when they’ve clearly run out, or count till a million gazillion in one minute, all while I’m making dinner AND unpacking the shopping.
The octopus analogy doesn’t work obviously. I guess it’s a bit too complex for a two and a half year old to understand that what I am actually trying to say is “I only have TWO hands for f*** sake!”
I’m often amazed by how much credit my kids give my multi-tasking skills. It is very clear to me that they think I am totally capable of driving, changing a CD, having a full on conversation about life and death (why do they always bring these things up in the car?) and singing “the wheels on the bus” all at the same time.
But what I’m especially impressed about is how when my husband is RIGHT THERE and quite clearly DOING NOTHING, yet they still come to me with their endless requests. For example, he can be sitting next to Ally at the breakfast table, yet she will still call me, from all the way across the room, to pass her water cup to her which is sat on the table RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER FATHER.
In a way it’s flattering really. They obviously see something in me that I am unaware of – some secret super power I don’t even know I have.
I think this is true for most mums. We are a rare breed of superhero who is able to hear a baby cry in our sleep- through three walls, a snoring husband and a pair of earplugs (due to the snoring). Able to run at the speed of light to catch the school bus, while pushing a double buggy and pulling a reluctant toddler who is screaming “I want ice cream” in the middle of January. And who are able to smell our own kids’ poo a mile away, even in the busiest and most stinky soft play area.
In fact, I can’t even list the number of times I have heard the words “mummy can do it” uttered in my house which as a feminist (there, I said it), makes me proud and happy to hear, but as a somewhat tired, need a break, leave me alone, pissed off person I sometime am, what I really want to say is “go to your daddy”.
Since I am aware of the fact that I do not actually possess super powers, I decide to find out where my kids’ absolute belief in my ability as a super human comes from. I mean, it makes sense for me to at least try to find out, and although I am not sure if I’m going to like the answer, (you know, in case they say something like ‘cos you think you know it all’, or ‘cos you’re bossy’), I decide to suck it up and just go for it.
So I ask them flat out: “why do you think mummy is a superhero”?
Dina looks at me puzzled and then walks away. Ally says “cos mummy is a pretty princess” – great, so much for being a feminist. And Bella takes a pause to think about it for a few moments. While she thinks, Ally places a tiara on my head telling me that I am now Elsa, and asks if I’d like to ‘build a snowman’.
A few more moments go by and then Bella says plainly “because you care about us”.
I know you weren’t expecting that. Well neither was I.
But there I had it. Simple, honest, surprising, no flashing lights, no big hair or fancy outfits, no magic, no music, no need to do it all and be good at everything. Just ‘because you care’. If I could put that on a T Shirt I totally would.
My clever, sensitive, adorable four and a half year old summed it up better than I could ever do and melted my heart in that one sentence. More importantly she made me realise that what I do, I do cos I care, not because I can.
I am often caught up in what I can and cannot do. My attitude towards challenges is to try my best and work hard in order to succeed, so to hear from my child that it is not my success, nor is it my ‘doing’ that makes me super in her eyes was a total revelation to me.
There I was thinking that I am the ‘go to’ parent cos I’m fast, or cos I’m strong, or cos I wipe their bottoms better than their daddy does. But no, that wasn’t it at all.
My kid doesn’t care that I am juggling work and family life, my kid is not impressed by the fact I ran for charity, or the fact I know how to change a tyre or that I can hold a conversation with three people at the same time. My kid doesn’t give a shit about any of that. In a world of overachievers, doing it all, saving the day and being a super mummy, my kid thinks I am a superhero just because I care.
And THAT to me is truly amazing.
So thank you Bella for once again teaching me something new and showing me where my true mummy power lies.
I love you baby.
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