Some days I wish I was a better parent. Not one of those super-mum’s – which I don’t believe actually exist – but at least a parent that was a little more consistent. But I must explain. Next month is our 20 year anniversary and Ken and I are planning to stay in the Yarra Valley for an evening away from the girls. Because the area we are staying is not totally familiar, I thought I would check out the restaurants and cafe’s in the area near by our B&B. The plan was to go into Warburton, find the B&B and a few restaurant ideas, have a picnic lunch and a play on the playground before heading home again. But as I have been finding lately, these outings, which I think have been as much about me escaping as getting the girls out into the fresh air – are very frustrating.
Firstly, they are frustrating because life isn’t meant to be easy. There, I said it. It’s not easy when you are trying to navigate a wheelchair over a bumpy path or ground towards a playground. Usually I am torn between wanting to give Georgia as much fun as Sienna has naturally. This means trying Georgia on the swings or the slide, or helping her to climb up to the equipment. But because her movements are unpredictable, I cannot just leave her to play, I have to watch her constantly, which means I cannot give 100% attention to Sienna. This is especially hard at the moment because Sienna is at that demanding age where she wants my attention all the time. So today, I put Georgia on the swing (which isn’t really suitable for her because it isn’t really stable), but I thought I would try. Then I turned my attention to Sienna to make sure she was safe. Of course, the minute I took my eyes off Georgia, she slid out of the swing into the muddy puddle underneath it. This is where I get frustrated with myself. I should have just laughed and not worried that Georgia was wet and dirty. I had taken Sienna’s boots for the specific purpose that she could get wet if she wanted to – so why do I not give Georgia the same treatment? I don’t know. I just felt my anger rise up and before I knew what I was doing I was yelling and telling the girls the day was over and it was time to go. Georgia of course started to play up, she didn’t want to come home, which only infuriated me more. I put the girls into the car in silence, throwing our picnic lunch into the car without care and started the journey home.
As I drove home, I felt so guilty that my anger had ruined the day. I try so hard to make sure that my girls get as many experiences as they can, and I want them to remember these outings with fondness and smiles – not with the memory of their mother yelling like a fishwife because she is hot and frustrated with life. And that’s what it boiled down to. My frustration that life with a child with a disability is not easy.
I am not stupid or naive enough to think that any parenting is easy, especially the parenting of toddlers. But I think that the realisation is that it will always be harder for us as parents because our child cannot do things for herself like other children. We will always have to help her, no matter what independence she may gain. I think in my mind, I have this idealised view of life, and a trip to the country or the playground seems so easy for some… in fact I’ve seen other families and they all seem to leave with a smile. But not me, at least not at the moment.
I know that this particular experience would have been better if I had Ken or my Mum with me to help, but sometimes I just want some time with the girls alone. Anyway, I will continue to have these little outings with them, because it is important to me that they enjoy this time of their life. I can only hope that I improve on my way of dealing with life when it doesn’t run smoothly.