Tonight, as every night, I feel myself get more and more anxious as the boys’ bed time approaches. They get more and more rambunctious the closer it gets to bed time. Some strange need to to expel all that energy before sleep takes them.
“Why do they make me so anxious?”, I wonder. I’ve been able to manage most of my other anxieties, what is so different about this one? What am I really anxious about?
And I realise that it is all about control. The older the boys get, the less control I have over them. I can no longer carry them here and there and manage their every action through the day. They do what they want. They put their shoes on when they’re ready, not when I want them to. They don’t come the table immediately when I call them, they take their time turning off the TV.
The are loud, they are messy. Their presence is overwhelming for my tightly wound mind. They are constantly in my face, wanting to be watched, acknowledged, talked to. They jump, spin, sing, tackle each other, pick up the cats, shout, laugh, whinge and complain.
I clean and the minute they occupy a space it is messy again. My clean table gets crumbs and grease marks all over it, my carpet is covered in pencil shavings and biscuit crumbs, the laundry pile grows, despite the freshly washed and folded clothes having just been put away in their cupboards.
It is a never ending fight of me versus the mess and the noise.
Their noise bothers me. Their jumping all over the furniture and each other bothers me. I can see the attraction of the “children should be seen and not heard” paradigm, under which I was brought up.
I swallow another valium, as I ponder my revelation about control. I often congratulate myself on the safe space I’ve created for myself and the boys here; a tightly controlled environment of home, school and the occasional social activity. But the truth is that I can’t control my children. And the deeper truth is that I don’t really want to.
I want them to be their own people.
I just wish that their behaviour didn’t impact me so much. I wish I could let go. I wish I could accept their mess and noise and let it wash over me. I wish I could accept housework as never being finished. I wish I wasn’t so tightly wound.
How do I change this?
Image by Stefano Corso from here.