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am i neglectful?

(41 Posts)
Booooooooooyhoo Thu 29-Oct-09 15:59:07

my mum said something that has really got to me and i need to know if she is right.

i took myself and ds1 (4) and ds2 (5months) out for lunch. we had a lovely lunch, chatted, ate, talked to people we knew and then ds1 wanted ice cream. ds2 had been fed so i put him back in his car seat after eating my lunch one handedly and ordered ds1 an ice cream. it was huge and ds1 was in his own little world singing to himself and talking to himself. i took out a novel and read it while ds1 finished his ice cream. then we went to the shop and he picked out a magazine for himself as a treat for being very well behaved at lunch. i am on maternity leave at the minute so lunch out is a treat for me, and it helps shake off the cabin fever i feel i get being at home so much.

anyway at mums in the evening it came up that we were at lunch and had met friends, i told her that one of the friends had made a joke as they were leaving about me keeping my mind active by reading whilst on mat leave.

immediately my mum's expression changed and she said "you were reading at the table, while you had the boys with you?"

i said yes as we had all finished except ds who was entertaining himself.

she said it wasnt very stimulating for the boys. to which i replied that i didnt think it necessary to stimulate them all the time, that children need to know how to amuse themselves at times. she said that yes, while the boys are with me i should be stimulating them.

i was and still am quite surprised that she said this, she had two children aswell, surely she knows that its not posible to constantly be stimulating children.

to be honest i quite enjoyed reading my book knowing they were both fed and content. it was a welcome break from having to be constantly answering questions and cries. thats not to say if ds1 had asked me a question that i would have ignored him, i wouldlnt have.

but its really got to me, on one hand i think that my mother was a very good parent, she very much tried her best for us so i think perhaps she is right.
but on the other i think that she is setting an impossibly high standard that she knows i will never meet. some of you may have seen my other thread in Mental Health where i have said how overwhelming i'm finding things at the minute, so i am not sure whether it is me feeling as though this is another failure to add to my list or whether it is my mother being a bit unrealistic.

kidcreoleandthecoconuts Thu 29-Oct-09 16:07:08

Of course your Mum is being unreasonable and unrealistic. As long as your boys were happy there's no problem. Don't doubt yourself. smile

sleepwhenidie Thu 29-Oct-09 16:07:35

You are NOT being unrealistic, you were lucky enough to get a few minutes peace, during which you read a book, while DC's were perfectly content and amusing themselves!

I totally agree that DC's should learn how to entertain themselves and (not that it is relevant to your situation at lunch), certainly by the time they are old enough to reason with, they also need to know that their wishes/demands do not always come first. I am sure most MNetters would agree that DC's are quite demanding enough of your attention - if they give you a little break, make the most of it, whatever space you can find for yourself when you are looking after little ones all day is a good thing for your sanity!

ConnorTraceptive Thu 29-Oct-09 16:08:45

Your mum is being silly. Yesterday I took my boys out for the afternoon and afterwards ds2 was asleep in his pushchair so we went to a cafe. I got ds1 a drink and a cookie and told him that he should snuggle down on the sofa quietly while I read the paper. Which I did.

I do not feel in the least bit guilty about it. Your children's age gaps are similar to mine and I found the first year of ds2's life very hard. However he is 18 months now and ds1 has started school so fear not it gets much much easier.

Look after yourself too.

Spidermama Thu 29-Oct-09 16:14:46

I would absolutely love to have the sort of relationship with my children which meant I could read while they got on with their stuff.

I do find the scenario you describe completely alien because my kids just wouldn't have it. They engage me all the time whether I like it or not.

However, as kidcreole says, as long as they were happy and you weren't ignoring their demands then I can see no problem whatsoever. I think it's really good to learn to be together but in your own world at the same time. I crave it with every inch of my being. I'd quite like that.

PinkyMinxy Thu 29-Oct-09 16:18:50

I think what you did sounds just fine. I'm sure your DS really enjoyed his ice cream. Why do children need, or why would they want to be constantly 'stimulated'?

Personally I think it's important for children to be left to it a bit, let them have their own thoughts, daydreams, imagintaive play, without constant adult input.

I'm sure he would have got your attention should he have wanted it!wink

throckenholt Thu 29-Oct-09 16:19:47

being out to lunch and having a big icecream is stimulation enough - without you doing a song and dance act to entertain them as well.

Anything out of the ordinary is stimulating.

Ignore your mum.

Booooooooooyhoo Thu 29-Oct-09 16:20:39

thank you all, i really did enjoy the break. we were all fed and content, if ds2 had cried or ds1 wanted to talk then of course i would have set down my book and responded, but they didnt, they were happy. i was really pleased that we'd had such a nice treat, hence ds1 getting to choose a magazine. but then when my mum said this i felt awful, i thought i'd made a big mistake. i feel like i should say this to her and ask her to revisit the times when we were small but i know she thinks she is right and it would only strain relations between us that arent great to begin with.

thank you all. i'm now going to stimulate my dcs. grin

doggiesayswoof Thu 29-Oct-09 16:26:21

I think your scenario sounds lovely.

Why wouldn't you grab a bit of time to yourself whenever you can, when your dses are fed and content?

Goodness knows there will be enough times when they will have you hanging on their every move. And as the parent of a toddler (DS is nearly 18mo) I have fond memories of the time when he was small enough to sit in his carseat while his big sister did some colouring in etc.

I think our mums can sometimes be our worst critics at the very times they should be supporting us. And memories are short - I bet she can't really remember what it's like having young DC.

don't let this get you down.

colditz Thu 29-Oct-09 16:29:03

Your mother is being ridiculous. My mum read constantly, including during dinner (as do I) and I was not remotely neglected as a child.

It's not like your children are going to be fascinating conversationalists at this age, is it? Are you supposed to stare at them with bated breath while they eat?/

Booooooooooyhoo Thu 29-Oct-09 16:32:26

doggie i think you've hit the nail on the head. ive never felt more unsupported by my mother than i do now since ds2 was born.

thatsnotmymonster Thu 29-Oct-09 16:43:51


I don't think it's a good idea to stimulate/entertain children all the time. If left to it children learn how to play together/entertain themselves etc etc

Sounds like you all had a lovely time!

My mum REALLY ANNOYED me once because after we had been out to soft play she remarked to my sister that she doesn't enjoy going with me as all I do is sit down and relax while she runs around after the children! I was annoyed because I wanted to sit down, have a coffee and chat to my mum but she wouldn't.
This was last year when dd2 was only a few months so she was sleeping in the buggy beside me while the other 2 (2.5 and 3.10) were running around. I never went back to soft play with my mum- she doesn't get the whole point that you go there tgo get a break grin

VoluptuaGoodshag Thu 29-Oct-09 16:50:59

Oh FGS, in that case I neglect my children every day. Right now they are papped in front of the telly chilling out whilst I grab a mo on here waiting for the spuds to boil. And do you know what - I don't give a ** so hang me high.

I run a house not a nursery or playgroup so there are times (a lot) when the kids have to amuse themselves. It teaches them to be independent.

deaddei Thu 29-Oct-09 20:32:18

Absolutely voluptua. Children are not the centre of the universe.

Rochel4 Thu 29-Oct-09 22:46:31

what exactly constitutes stimulation anyway? For a child, everything is stimulating. How are we expected to stimulate them all the time? I don't know about you, but I definitely don't have enough hours in the day to 'stimulate' all my children!

Jajas Thu 29-Oct-09 22:49:25

Sounds like a lovely outing, you are definitely NOT being neglectful, lucky children smile.

Bellsa Thu 29-Oct-09 22:53:39

Maybe your mother has forgotten what it's like being with children 24/7? Anyway, you're setting a positive example by showing the children that reading is something to be enjoyed!

shonaspurtle Thu 29-Oct-09 22:55:29

Ask her what she would expect you to do to stimulate your ds1 in that situation. I bet she can't tell you.

Sounds like code for "sacrifice any small enjoyment for your dcs whether they want you to or not" which is not in any way healthy and a complete waste of time.

Time2Hibernate Thu 29-Oct-09 22:58:21

Sounded like a lovely time was had by all. A moment perhaps that your dear Mum needed to see for herself to understand?

Just a small point, I read in one of the national papers a few months back, that children learn to appreciate reading and the benefits by watching their parents read; whether it is the newspapers, books or magazines. It is becoming a lost art, according to the article, so based on that, you are setting an example.

LauraN1 Thu 29-Oct-09 22:59:08

It's not like you turned your back on them whilst they were getting into fights with other children. I see a lot of mums do this at playgroups and it really annoys me. Now, that's being neglectful.

What you did was absolutely right. Well done for having a nice lunch out and for enjoying it yourself (not just the lil ones)!

paisleyleaf Thu 29-Oct-09 22:59:54

Not neglectful at all.
It's nice when you can do your own things side by side and quiet time is valuable for the DCs as well as you.
Am a bit jealous you got away with it though envy

JustAnotherManicMummy Thu 29-Oct-09 23:02:19

Sounds like a case of selective-memory syndrome on the part of your mother. She has forgotten what it is like.

Mine's the same. She is obsessed that we should be singing to DS. All the time (or rather in front of her to prove we're doing it). I can't remember her singing to us ever...

Booooooooooyhoo Thu 29-Oct-09 23:06:55

thank you all.
you know the more i have thought about this today, the more i think she doesnt belive that herself, im feeling that perhaps she's thinking i should be finding things harder. is hard to explain but i dont think her comment was made with the children in mind at all.

i might have to have it out with her after all because it really got to me, and she is wrong to do that to me.

boundarybabe Fri 30-Oct-09 08:52:45

I would have thought if you constantly stimulated your DS while he was trying to eat a massive ice cream he would probably puke!

I often let DS crawl about on the floor while I read a magazine. ALthough now he's becoming a bit speedy I need to be more on my toes!

ThingOneofYourNightmares Fri 30-Oct-09 08:59:01

You were being Very Naughty Indeed reading at the table. It's the Height Of Bad Manners. Tut tut.

As you can tell, I'm in the jealous camp. I count myself lucky to be able to read an article in a free magazine when I go out with my boys. I wish mine could eat an ice cream without having to talk me through every mouthful, and talking about Star Wars in the the bits in between. Any failure to respond instantly is greeted by "Mummy. Mummy. MUMMY". I must repeat lovelychattyboyslovelychattyboyslovelychattyboys zzzzzzzz.

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