Explaining the World to A Four-Year-Old: “Mum, Why Are You Crying?”

I just drove M to nursery and I was sobbing most of the way. From the back seat I heard: “Mum, why are you crying?”

“I’m not crying,” I said, and turned the music up. “Did you say you’re not crying?”

Yes. Yes I lied. Because it was easier than trying to explain why I am crying to you. Because I’m the parent and you’re the four-year-old. So no, I’m not crying.

I’m not crying because I shouted at you to put your coat on and get ready to go because when I said I wasn’t taking two coats today you threw yourself on the floor and had a tantrum. Because I didn’t have the energy for an explanation of why I want to carry as little as possible to the car now that L is too big to lug around in the car seat and I have to take him in the sling. And why even though you love your Batman vest coat you still need the other one in case it rains so today just take the other one.

I’m not crying because I know I should have shown more patience and because when I said sorry for shouting you said “you always shout at me.” Which isn’t true but is obviously how you felt in that moment and that breaks my heart.

I’m not crying because I feel like the house is a perpetual mess and sometimes I feel like life is an endless round of washing up and laundry and when I don’t have the energy to tackle the washing up/laundry and instead play with you and your brother I feel guilty when your dad comes home and the house is a mess but when I tidy the house when you are around I feel guilty for not being better organised and tidying when you are asleep so we have time to play.

I’m not crying because I stayed up until 12.15am last night tidying so we could get on with a nice day this morning and then you and your brother woke up at 6.30am.

I’m not crying because I spent the morning on the phone to HMRC/tax credits while you watched Tom and Jerry and we played a couple of games but then it was time to get ready to go to nursery and I felt guilty that you had sat and watched TV for so long.

I’m not crying because your brother cried in his cot while I quickly got the sauce in the crock pot for spaghetti tonight so your dad doesn’t have to cook dinner yet again when he gets home.

I’m not crying because the kitchen is now a mess again.

I’m not crying because I want to be the best mum to you boys but I feel like it is all just quite hard sometimes and I feel guilty for feeling that especially because I can see how fast you are growing up.

But I love you and you read me two books today. And I taught you to say “th” instead of “l.” And you did as I asked and went to try to cheer your brother up when I was making the pasta sauce and I could hear you over the baby monitor saying “it’s OK, I’m here, mummy’s just coming… Mum! It’s not working.”

I love you so much but I think about all the things I do wrong instead of the things that I do right.

Which is why I’m not crying.

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Published by

Burnt Supper

British/American, postgraduate, wife, mother, dog-owner

One thought on “Explaining the World to A Four-Year-Old: “Mum, Why Are You Crying?””

  1. I am so glad to read someone else being honest about the difficulties we face as mothers. I have days like this too and it all sometimes feels too hard. But remember to look at your kids smiling at you and remember that really they don’t care about anything other than their mummy loving them. Feel better. Lucy x

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