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It takes Mum to restore sanity
by Clara Chow

A CHATTY gynaecologist recently dispensed some funny parenting advice to my husband.

Just after he rolled an ultrasound scanner over my pregnant belly and told us that our next child was going to be another boy, the doctor wagged a finger at the Supportive Spouse and said: “Never get in the middle of a fight between a mother and her sons.”

We chuckled a little over the mental image of the long-suffering father being deafened by a screeching wife and buffeted by their defiant monkey boys.

However, I didn’t expect that I would soon be inserting myself into fights between the Supportive Spouse and our three-year-old son, Julian. Of late, Julian has developed some nasty habits that stem from not being able to control negative emotions, like anger and disappointment, yet.

When he is upset, he might shout at his elders, or throw things around. To be fair, this usually happens when he is sleepy and cranky.

One afternoon, the boy threw a toy telephone at his dad when Papa signalled that it was naptime by turning off the television.

All hell broke loose. The normally patient Supportive Spouse saw red, and bellowed his rage. He yanked a scared, crying Julian into his room and thundered a scolding.

In the end, I did the typical soft-hearted mother thing, even though I knew that Julian needed to be disciplined. I got between them, drew my son into my lap and let him bury his tear-streaked face in my skirt, while saying calming things to my furious spouse.

Being the one with the lousier temper, I had always assumed that I would always play the bad cop against my husband’s easy-going good cop.

But the incident made me realise that, perhaps, I would be the one who would let our sons get away with murder in future.

I know that the Supportive Spouse roars at his firstborn son occasionally because he wants the best for his heir.

But, suddenly, my life flashed before me. I saw more of such clashes of wills. The years will go by, our kids will get older, the issues will change and become more complex, but the conflict-resolution tactics and crisis aversions will remain roughly the same.

It is this process of negotiation that might tear us apart and, paradoxically, also make us grow together as a family. But it will be love – lots of it in unapologetic, unstinting supply – that will get us through it all.

Later, when things were less dramatic, I stroked my son’s hair and reminded him of how much his father loves him. I asked: If Papa wasn’t around, who would carry Julian in his arms when he was tired, give him food, buy him toys, and take him on holidays?

Having had some help piecing together the logical consequences of his actions, Julian sought out his dad in the next room and told him: “I love you.”

His sire melted and peace reigned once more.

So, with no disrespect to my chatty gynaecologist, I’m hoping my husband does get in the middle of a fight between my sons and me. Because, who knows, when I’m morphing into a harridan, I’d need his help to rein me in and restore sanity.

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