Is it ever okay to say you dislike spending time with your children?

Whether said in jest, in exasperation or out of the bottom of their hearts: I have heard the statement ‘God, I wish half-term was over already so you lot can get back to school and give me some peace’ a number of times over the last few years. A lot of the time, the sentence was said to the children, or about them well within earshot. The last time I saw this statement was on social media only a few days ago.

Every time, it shocks me that people can say such things to or about their children. My two are by far not perfect. Both of them have, at times, truly and utterly got on my nerves. But I would never say to them that I wish for our time together to be over.

Maybe it is, because all our time during term-time is admin-time. Get up, get dressed, drive to the childminder’s, come home, prep for the next day, have dinner, get a bath, bed. Other than the increasingly rare night my baby boy won’t sleep unless I’m in bed with him, I don’t see much of either of the two during the day, so every minute spent together at weekends, during half-term and during the longer holidays is precious.

Maybe it is a sign of only having recently returned to work. I can still remember the enjoyment that walking my daughter to and from school brought. The conversations we had, which we can now only have during our cooking time in the evenings. It’s all changed and actually having been able to spend my time with my two babies has made me realise just how much I miss them during the day. Next year, when I will work much further away, it will be even worse.

Of course, there is also a lot of empathy involved. I always ask myself how I would feel if my own mother had said similar. It would have been one of those phrases stuck in my head, being rolled out over and over again until it became a different thought: my mother doesn’t like me and doesn’t want to spend time with me. I know that my daughter would easily think along the same lines. And it wouldn’t matter whether I actually meant it, or even whether it was a joke. She would have taken it, and remembered.

So as much as I understand the urge to whinge sometimes, to vent, to allow all my frustrations to be aired freely, I have to think back, and remember. Remember why I am angry, upset, frustrated. And how much a single sentence can hurt.

It’s okay to let it all out. BUT – and only but – please make sure your children will never be able to hear you say this.

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