He hit my phone so hard, it slipped through my fingers and landed on the floor. I was shocked, surprised by the aggressiveness and energy he used for this action, however the unapologetic and stern look in his eyes is what shook me the most. I felt so embarrassed and inefficient. It was a heart wrenching wake-up call. His eyes seemed to say, 'I have been trying to get your attention, for so long and I am frustrated.' I was 'busy', on my phone and did not realize that my son had been trying to get my attention, yet him and I were in the same room. My second born son is three years old and not yet able to speak well, or be assertive with his words to express his emotions and feelings. He used actions, and they spoke louder than words.
Since that day, which I vividly remember, I begun to question whether or not I am giving my best, as a mother, especially as a stay-home mother. It was such an eye opening experience. I have drawn so many lessons as well. I now appreciate that evaluation is not restricted to work places or school. What stood out the most for me, is that being a stay-home mother can easily become just a mere title. I felt so absent, yet I am a stay-home mother.
Staying home with my children, without any help from a nanny or maid is rather challenging and terribly exhausting, in almost every way. I had unintentionally turned myself into an automated being. I was slowly becoming mechanical, forgetting to spare time to bond with my children, rather ironic that I should say so, yet I am always with them. I even imagined parents who are away from their children having more meaningful relationships with them. I was busy keeping the house in order, cooking their meals, making sure they have clean clothes on, warm, forgetting to connect with them on an emotional level. All this input is necessary and definitely shows that I care for my children and it's possible to bond while feeding or bathing with a child, but having quality time with each child, separately and quietly is fundamental and one needs to be intentional and create the time.
Subconsciously, I was ignoring my son, perhaps because he is not able to start and hold a conversation, yet. I should dare to say because he is a boy, I imagined that he did not need so much of my attention, I as well, carelessly assumed that he is already grown enough. I should have known that even when he is not talking yet, him and I can still communicate and bond.
I moved on to making some rules for myself and how to manage my time with my children, especially my son. I am still nursing my one year old daughter, we bond better. I decided that every day, I should spare a few minutes from my busy schedule, to bond with my son. Just the two of us, no distractions whatsoever, not even with his sister. Be it singing, creating dialogue, where it is me speaking most of the time anyway, playing, I try to do this without any disruption of television, my phone, anything or anyone else. I hope I do not make it sound easy, there are days when I fail, but these are only baby steps.
I am grateful that my son, helped me to realize that I was not giving my all and ultimately pushed me to improve my parenting skills.
In retrospect, I now understand why there were moments when I felt like I was not doing my best. Unknowingly, my son enabled me to figure out why, through his cry for attention, in an aggressive manner.
Sometimes, when as mothers and parents in general, feel guilty for not giving our best, chances are that we are not. It is important to evaluate oneself and make changes where need be. We shall live and leave, knowing we gave our children the best.
About the author: Priscilla Butera is a stay-home mother of two children under four years a household C.E.O of sorts).
She is an English in literature teacher by profession, an event planner, free lance writer and aspiring counselor, counselling psychology, in particular. She obtained a bachelor of arts in Education, English in literature at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda and has been a free lance writer, with The New Vision, mainly in the Sunday Vision for feature stories between 2012-2014.
In her own words; "Being a stay-home mother has been and continues to be a learning experience and training too. It requires managerial skills, like planning, organizing, budgeting and accounting plus so much more, regarding the all round supervision of a home and taking care of my household members, hence the title I prefer to identify with, at the moment, household C.E.O!"