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Monday, June 2, 2008

These Schizophrenic Days

I want to begin my blog today with a long loud *SIGH*. It has been a good, bad, up, down, laughing, shouting, frustrating and funny sort of a day and I have enjoyed it and hated in equal measure and often within seconds of each other.

I don't know why I find the whole mothering thing so hard some days but I do. There are days when I could just curl up inside the fridge vegetable crisper just to get a few precious minutes to myself - to rest, recuperate, rejuvenate and find the strength to just get up and carry on. Beanie is not a difficult child, not really. Like most kids she becomes her most destructive and her most challenging when she feels she has to compete for my attention with anything - a phone call, the toaster (being used, I might add, to make her favourite snack, raisin toast!), my husband, the tv - whatever. These are the times that all her shoes come out of the cupboard and get thrown around her room, the DVD's are unpacked from the cabinet, the TV gets switched off, then on, then off, then on - all to an endless chant of 'No Lily!' by an increasing frustrated mummy-bear. Today I went from smiling and chatting with her to snarling like a rabid wolverine because she asked me for 'nana' and when I gave it to her, she poked her fingers through it and then flung it onto the kitchen floor (which is so dirty that it makes me tired just thinking about cleaning it). She spent the afternoon whining and crying every time I moved into another room and wanted to be carried everywhere. She refused to eat the lovely pumpkin and goat cheese risotto I cooked for her and screamed when I tried to put her into her baby-seat to eat her freshly made toast - so, I decided to put her in the bath. Ohhhhhhh. Let's just say that the carpet will be wet for a month and she was hyper by the end of it.

However, I suspect that she was just overtired having missed her afternoon nap (because she refused to go to sleep despite 6 books and lots of encouragement from an eager to nap mamma) and so after her usual ritual of hair-drying, pj struggling and 3 books, she requested 'boobie' (which was refused as I am both sore and trying to wean her), had a cry when I refused and then dropped to sleep in about 10 minutes. Normally it takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to get the child to go to sleep and this is with either myself or my husband in the bed with her. Attachment parenting is so labour intensive and yet I love the idea of raising a well-adjusted, secure baby. The only problem is that I find myself shouting at her and calling her a 'stupid girl' (to be fair, she was hanging off the 600 different computer leads under my desk and I was terrified she'd be electrocuted) or something equally reprehensible and it makes me wonder if I shouldn't just abandon the whole 'attachment parenting' style in favour of something that has me just popping her in a cot to go to sleep on her own in her own time. It seems to be a case of maintaining my sanity whilst still creating a nurturing child environment and on some days the two just don't gel. Days like these.

I sometimes hate myself as a mother. This is not too harsh a statement. It's the Gods honest truth. I sometimes say and do things to my child that I absolutely hate myself for and I then become crippled with a guilt that eats away at me like a slow-burning cancer. I have talked about how hard the first year of mothering has been for me before but I have to admit that it hasn't really gotten much easier. I still feel regularly overwhelmed with the difficulty of raising my child when I can't seem to control my temper or my tongue. I know that part of the problem is that I'm trying to be a 'perfect' mummy. I know this and yet i still can't seem to let myself off the hook. I guess I feel that my mistakes are crimes against childhood and that I should get life in the prison of guilt. It sounds dramatic doesn't it? That's bloody actors for you. Not to mention writers. Always the drama, drama, drama. Yet I feel that I deserve all the shit I give myself because I have yet to go a whole two days without some kind of ugly explosion and it shames me. There are days when I feel I could literally strangle my child and yet I could not love her more. My heart aches with the love that I have for her and I would give up my life to keep her safe. How then is it that I still fall so often into these old patterns created in my own childhood? How is that I have still not learned the art of self-control? How is it that I cannot protect my child from myself? From my weaknesses and my failings.

It took me 16-months to realise that I might be suffering from post-natal depression (and that was an amateur diagnosis by a stranger) and I have still not really accepted that this might be really, actually, true for me. I hate the idea that I might be a 'depressive' person despite the fact that many of my closest (and most loved) friends have visited this dark and torturous place called depression from time to time. I have always prided myself on my ability to 'cope' - just like all the women in my family. We shrug and get on with it because that's what needs to happen. The fiery Celtic spirit that resides within this woman is both my truest nature and my fiercest critic. We Celts don't rest until the work is done and we never ask for help. We are kindness itself to strangers but would run ourselves through with a broadsword for any minor fault or flaw. It's tiring. I am tired. I am sad. I am at war with myself again because I have not lived up to the (ridiculous) standards of parenting that I have set for myself and which I still manage to find time to write testily about. See - nice, normal, schizophrenic mamma in action.

What I hate is the feeling that tomorrow I will still not know how to do it any better than I did today because this is who I am right now. This is all I am capable of right now. This is the 'what is' as they say in Buddhism and to fight the now, the what is, is to be unavailable to the present moment which is the only moment in which I can effect change. That's the double edged sword of it all. I have to be at peace with my failure and allow it to sit within me like a big black duck quacking maniacally (not sure about that image!) and just be with it. Did I mention that I have a little difficulty with surrendering? Well that means surrendering to this feeling of failure and despondency. It means letting the tears come and trying not to be ashamed of myself and my mothering. It means letting the light into the darkness by not shutting myself in or down but by simply allowing it all to just be.

And I don't want to.

I don't like it.



docwitch said...

Oh sweetheat. You are much, much too hard on yourself, and guilt just compounds everything. Let yourself be. You've been through such a lot these past few years, huge life changes, so be gentle and caring with yourself, as you are with others.

The feeling of not measuring up to our ideals, or ideas of how we should mother can be ultimately devastating and takes away from all the good stuff that we can offer and enjoy.

You were spot-on when you identified that, rather than concentrating so hard on things like attachment parenting,(which is great, sure), it's more important to provide a nurturing environment for a child,(which you actually do), and a mother who is relaxed and not exhausted through straining too hard to be perfect.

What you do is good enough, and Lily will feel that. She just wants you. You're far more tuned-in and wise to it all than you give yourself credit for.

Nia said...

Great work.