We Shouldn’t But We Do

scha·den·freu·de. noun, often capitalized \ˈshä-dən-ˌfrȯi-də\. : a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.


I have a friend who is, I think, the perfect mom. She has a lovely house, not too tidy, very spacious and pleasantly arranged. There is always a smell of home cooking, and some creative project half-finished in a corner. Her kids are also lovely, with a range of personalities from shy to outgoing. They aren’t too precocious, neither are they too annoying. They are all pleasant and interesting, and when they have meltdowns they tend to be of the milder variety. (The Bardone/Hobson brand seems particularly tempestuous).

She keeps the most important things the most important. She doesn’t care about them wearing fancy shoes and clothing, for example (even though they are quite well-off) because she would far rather that they be climbing trees and playing in puddles. She also has a great sense of humour, and doesn’t seem to let even the most annoying and tiresome of situations make her tense or stressed. I wish I could be more like her.

Come to think of it, there are lots of moms I could compare myself to. This one is so good at remembering birthdays and being organised in terms of preparing and planning for the day ahead. (I tend to be the one careering round corners with things half-falling out of the buggy as we rush to get somewhere on time.) That one has a spotless house, a knife is cleaned up and tidied away almost as soon as it hits the surface of the kitchen counter (I needn’t tell you about the state of my kitchen). This one home-schools, gets to input into her kids’ lives every moment of every day; that one takes her kids to swimming lessons, ballet lessons and French lessons; this one is always taking them to museums and things; that one has the patience of a saint….There always seems to be someone who is doing something better than I am.

Such is often the case in the worry-laden and guilt-ridden life of a parent. I want so desperately to be the best mother humankind has ever produced, with children who are happy and healthy and perfect all the time. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing pretty well, like last week when we were walking in the park (see last week’s post). And then we have a rager of a day when Isaac and Evie are at each other’s throats, Judah is teething and can’t stop crying, I drop the compost bin all over the kitchen and completely lose my sense of humour, and I think to myself, “I am so glad school starts tomorrow!!” So much for not being one of those kinds of moms.

My own mother always says, “Children are great levellers.” Which I guess means that just when you think you have got it all sorted, your kids will do something to show you and everyone else that actually, you really haven’t.

stressed mom

Come to think of it, nobody is as perfect as they seem: the one whose house is spotless always seems to be stressed and harried; that one who home-schools never gets enough time for herself; and the one who has the patience of a saint actually has kids that are pretty obnoxious little terrors who could do with a good barking at every once in a while.  We are all in the same boat, all trying our best to be our best. So we really shouldn’t compare ourselves.

All the same, last week I couldn’t help myself. We were sitting on a park bench having lunch and enjoying the sun; Isaac and Evie eating contentedly and Judah watching everything in his chilled, happy way. Then we heard shrieking and angry shouts from across the street. Heading towards us was a family, obviously on their way to a picnic themselves. The smallest child was screaming and crying. They came closer, and we realised it was a girl from Isaac’s class. She was striding ahead, casting off things in a fury as she went. First the scooter, then the coat, stamping her feet and roaring magnificently.

Behind her marched her sisters and mother (a very beautiful, slim woman who is always terribly organised and looks amazing), who was snatching everything up and shouting, “You’re going straight to your room when we get home!” As they passed us she smiled sheepishly and they hurried on, the shouts getting fainter.

We were silent for a while, then Isaac casually remarked, “She was being very naughty, wasn’t she, Mama?” “Yeah,” Evie chimed in sagely, shaking her head, “Naughty.” We carried on eating; somehow the afternoon seemed even better and sunnier than before. I bit into my sandwich, enjoying a satisfying moment. The Germans have it right, I thought. Besides, tomorrow it will probably be me.


Poop Goes the Weasel

The 5 rules of potty training are:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Be patient.
  3. Be patient.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Invest in a good set of marigolds! (refer to previous post Pimp Out Your Marigolds)

Welcome to the Bardone house of fun. It’s day number 7 of potty training, and while it is going considerably better than the last time (with Isaac it was like trying to teach an amoeba to write) it is still by far the hardest part of parenting for me.


I thought about heading this post something like “Tough Girls Do Cry” or “Crying is OK if You Can Stop After Ten Minutes”, but then realised that perhaps nobody would want to read it. Yes, there have been tears, and yes, the marigolds have been put to good use. But, although it is intense, it has meant a whole lot of undivided attention for Miss Evie-pie, and I have to say we have grown closer over the last week.

Reading books on the potty, doing stickers and tattoos on the potty, waiting, waiting….Talking about going on the potty, eating sweeties on the potty, running in circles around the potty, potty books, potty sticker charts, potty wins, potty misses. Lots of cheers and clapping and jubilation for the wins. Lots of deep breaths and “ah, poor dear, don’t worry, next time” for the misses. Yes, it takes a lot of patience.

One has to let a lot go (everything that is not essential really), because, for a two-and-a-half-year-old, learning to go on the potty is a really big deal. Personally I can’t remember it (thank heaven!) but I can only imagine that suddenly losing that sense of a comfortable safety net is a bit unnerving. And, I have to keep reminding myself that this is not about me, it’s about her.

For example, 45 minutes spent waiting for a poo to come with her lying over my lap on the floor could be seen as a colossal waste of time, OR…a great excuse to have a little cuddle and stroke her hair, reassuring her that it’s all going to be OK. Or after sitting on the potty five times without success, one heads out the door, only to get around the corner and hear a forlorn little, “Sorry, Mommy!” One just can’t get too frustrated.

Not only is Evie being potty-trained, but teddy and dolly are giving it a go as well, often with impressive sound effects. And their little mama seems to be keeping things under control pretty well. So I figure, having a good cry once they’re all in bed, or calling a good friend from the other room to have a vent is permitted. As long as to my Evie-pie, when she sees me, she thinks I think she’s doing a great job.

Potty-training is not for the faint-hearted. But, like many hard and unpleasant things in life, it has to be done. And finally getting it mastered is extremely rewarding (not to mention easier on the wallet – think how much money we’ll save with no nappies!).

So, till then, the carpet remains rolled up under the coffee table, the washing machine keeps humming, and I try to keep it all together with silly songs and cups of tea. Hopefully we won’t still be here next week. (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming….)