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Friday, February 20, 2009

I Chose The Road Less Travelled...

Now where the hell am I?

Can I preface this post by saying that I am deeply fed up and therefore am sighing a lot. Perhaps it's an unconscious attempt at inspiration, inspire meaning to 'take in breath'.

I am so bloody over absolutely everything. I have had such a bizarre and stressful three weeks with my hubble working late and doing much overtime and with all the fire issues to work out and prepare for. And if I have to have one more bloody fire threat, I may just scream. My darling daughter seems to have decided that her raison d'etre is to 'Make Mummy Crazy'. This not only taxes the one shredded nerve I have left but also taxes my overburdened and severely burnt out adrenal glands. I struggle daily to find new ways to communicate with my increasingly defiant, willful and sometimes downright horrible child. I know that as the 'adult' (and I use the term loosely here), that I'm the one that's supposed to have control over my emotions and be able to step back and be all philosophical and reasonable and loving. What I actually feel like doing is throwing her in a box postmarked to her Nanna's and calling for a cab to drive me to the nearest fucking airport. There have been numerous smacked bottoms and smacked hands in these past few weeks.

What I hate more than absolutely everything else right now (and there is a lot that i hate) is that I am so not living the 'attachment parenting' life with my precious girl. I look at her sleeping and I am lost. I love her so much it tears me apart that I am this shadow of the parent that I want to be for her. I have no patience. I have no calm. I have nothing but anger and resentment and these moments of pure white rage that I struggle to keep under control lest I do something (else) that I'll regret and shed tears over later.

I have struggled for so long with parenting and just when I think that I'm getting a handle on one thing, something else comes along to shift my centre of gravity away from me again. I am not someone to whom parenting comes naturally. I could sit here and blame my parents or my upbringing or my conditioning for all the problems that I have with parenting and I'm sure some of it would be true but the point is it doesn't matter. It doesn't help me to know where some of these patterins originate from if I can do nothing to change them IN THE MOMENT. It's no use telling someone who is about to explode after the 100th rendition of 'what you doing mummy?' when youare still doing the same exact thing that she asked you about originally, to take a step away from the situation and count to 10. I could count to 1000 and it still wouldn't help because she'd be right there with me saying 'What are you doing mummy?' Believe me when I say that the endless questions are aggravating in extremis. Then there is the 'No! I don't WANT to' which is also trotted out endlessly followed by screaming tantrums if she doesn't get her way. I never imagined that she would be like this and I blame myself. I know that some of it is my difficulties with parenting, with connecting and playing and being totally present for my divine little brat, being reflected 'child style' back at me. And some of it is just a two year old expressing her frustration, her anger, her will and not understanding that she can't have the lollipops that she loves because they make her sugar crazed for hours and drive her poor flaky mother to distraction.

So what do we do? I am so sick of trying a million different things. I am utterly sick of reading parenting books to try and find the solution to the many issues I find myself facing with my daughter daily. I am totally responsible for how I feel and how I react - somehow though I just can't seem to find the shift that will allow me to react differently. I've been to counselling and I've been to several different alternative practitioners to help me get my anger under control and to help Lily and I relate differently to one another. You name it and I've probably tried it. I still find it terribly hard to 'play' with her. I try so hard but I just don't enjoy it. And then there's the million other things I have to do daily. My business, cooking, cleaning, writing and all I want to do is sleep. I have one day a week to myself and its not enough. That makes me feel like a selfish asshole. I love her. I truly do. Yet I just want to get away from her at the moment because being with her brings out the worst in both of us and all i feel is shame and sadness and pain after the anger has gone away.

I had these great visions of myself becoming some kind of mother earth type when I had a child. I envisioned the wonderful home waterbirth, the carrying and breastfeeding (which we did for the most part), the blissful connection to my child and feeling nothing but serene and loving towards this brightl ittle being that I had so longed for. It all went to shit with the labour and it has not improved a massive amount since then. Ok. So maybe I'm being a tiny bit overdramatic but that's how it feels. There have certainly been a lot of very hard times. PND post-dated for the previous 16 months that went unnoticed by everyone, including me. The child that barely slept during the day but slept all night until she was 6-months old and has barely slept all night since. I am not a natural nurturer. I realise that now. It's not that I don't have some of the urges but they are simply not that strong. I take full responsibility for myself and for my failings and I am striving to do better, to be better but today, recently, its just been too hard. Too all uphill with very little improvement.

I believe in gentle parenting, gentle discipline, nurturing and respecting the child. I am doing none of it. I chose the road less travelled when it came to the parenting norm - I co-slept and breastfed until she was nearly 2, I gave unlimited cuddles and she could not be more loved (better loved yes, more loved, no), I read every 'Sears' book there was plus a whole bunch of other attachment parenting books. I mean, I have TWO shelves of a bookcase groaning with love and care. I believe that it is important how we treat our children and I don't think that what I'm doing is even remotely ok. Yet when faced with a defiant, challenging and difficult child, I lose my temper, yell and smack. I am NOT awakened in my parenting and I don't know how to change it. That's what kills me. I am not a stupid or ignorant person. I am pretty smart and pretty astute when it comes to other people but for some reason that I just cannot figure out (despite my analytical probings ad nauseum) I seem unable to change. Not unwilling you understand. God am I ever willing. Just unable. Whatever switch you have to throw to move into some kind of better relationship with yourself and your child is broken, missing or miswired, like most of the light switches in our house. I am overwhelmed with the magnitude of mothering and I don't do surrender very well (if at all) even though I keep trying to slow down and 'let go'. So where does all of my self-examination get me when I seem to be unable to do the one thing that matters most to me - mother Beanie well.

Here it seems. Dissolving into snot and tears, writing to simply ease the internal pressure and to give myself something else to do other than beat myself up. I am not the world's worst mother, I just feel like I am. I know that I have a good heart otherwise this wouldn't get to me the way it does but it does not help me to know that.

Nurturing seems to be such a natural thing for other people, so why not for me? Do you know that I struggle daily with what to eat because I lack imagination in the kitchen? I have a million cook books but if left to my own devices I will eat toast and drink tea as my main meal of the day. I have horrible cravings for sugar and starch that I cannot seem to control for the most part and I do not know how to nurture myself. Maybe this is why I am doing such a shit job of nurturing Beanie and Hubble. The poor man is lucky to get a home cooked meal when he gets in from his job. And, bless him, he never expects it from me. He can see how frazzled and tired I am and he just puts on his apron and gets on with the show.

I read blogs daily that celebrate nurturing from women who seem to just be able to create magic in the kitchen and I am jealous and perplexed and humbled by them. I just don't seem to have what it takes to move into this part of my life without frustration. I am not a domestic goddess. I'm more like a feral kat.

I know that this is terribly depressing but I need to get it out because if I don't then I'll explode and the callatoral damage from my anger is more than I can bear right now.

I am not looking for sympathy, I am looking for a way forward, for solutions, for something that will shift this twisted paradigm into a new and a great and a glorious future. Failing that, not being reduced to a screaming banshee every five minutes of the day would be just great.

I don't know what else to do. I don't even know how to begin to make this different, better, work. I am lost and split apart with all the trying.

*Photo by this amazing site


Earthenwitch said...

First off, I bet all those blogs you read have shit days too - I post recipes I've come up with recently, but I don't post about the bits where I realise quite how much food has been ground into the dining room carpet, or where I wonder if that is a discarded mouse liver or an overlooked bean from last week's tea on the hearth. Oh. Wait. I do, don't I? ;) But you get my point - people post about what they choose to show, and that doesn't give you the full picture.

Second, I really wish I could offer something more helpful than yes, it is really fucking hard sometimes. I wonder if you've read Naomi Stadlen's What Mothers Do, which I found very helpful in reassuring me that I'm not utterly contemptible, and that mothering is sometimes just really, really hard work, and undervalued too.

You'll find your way with the Beanie, I am sure. It's obvious how much you care, and that's a hell of a good start.

docwitch said...

What EW says, (including the mouse livers), and I certainly can relate to having times where I just think I shouldn't be a mother at all, and should run off to Argentina, (conveniently).

Bear with me here, but have you seen The Hours? You know the one about Virginia Woolf with the heavy-handed soundtrack by Phil Glass, and that rotten performance by Kidman whose nose won her an Oscar? Well, the character Julianne Moore plays so beautifully, is the mother I can relate to a little too much. I have actually at times considered leaving my child to spare her from having a damaged mother like me. How many points on the Bad Mother scale do I get for saying that hey?

We all have our moments of horror and guilt, and it can be utter hell. So, it is actually really important not to be so hard on yourself. Easier said than done I know, and I wish I could take my own advice on that one.

Also, as someone who has blood sugar issues, and if you do have blood sugar probs, don't underestimate what effect it can have on you and how you are coping, (all the more reason to be gentler with yourself). You can be running on adrenaline you just don't have to spare. Get as much rest as you reasonably can, it really makes a difference to managing sugar cravings, and connected to that, our emotional responses.

I've seen your Beanie enough to see that she knows she is deeply loved; and she's a secure, happy and loving child. That shows what a bloody fine job you are doing. It's just hard to see that sometimes when you're up close to it all, immersed in the shit of motherhood and feeling burnt-out.

Love and hugs to you.

Jacque said...

I am not a mother, but when I read your post I reflected on times in my life when I have had conflict in relationships, and what has worked for me is to remove the roles. You stop seeing yourself as "Mother" and her as "Child" you eliminate the conditional shoulds and shouldn'ts and simply approach her as spirit to spirit. Take care of yourself first, you are no good to her if you are depleted. As for the rest of the world, I enjoy the pretty houses and the fancy recipes, but real, true heart is really what I am here for. You have real true heart.~Jacque

craftydabbler said...

You have been under terrible stress these last several weeks. You aren't asking for sympathy, but I do feel for you. My daughter is 5.5 years old and we struggle. I often feel the way you do. The things that have saved me have been having a group of friends with similar aged children. We used to get together all the time and seeing all of their different ways to deal with things gave me options. It may be hard to suddenly come up with a group of friends but maybe there is a co-op preschool/play group you could join.

There are a couple of books that have helped me, too. Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen has had the biggest impact. I read it, apply it, forget about it, re-read it, apply it, etc. The other was Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman.

Playing can really suck. I set a timer and say I can play with you for 10 minutes and then I have to do a load of dishes or something. There is less whining if she knows what to expect. I also made a reference list for myself of things she likes to play, so that if she suggests something I really don't want to do I can say, "Hey, why don't we play X instead?"

One last thing, I find that if I plan my shopping and my meals (actually write out a menu and keep it taped to the fridge) for about 5 days out I do fairly well at eating better and actually making dinner. Of course, we have ordered take out twice this week because I haven't have my stuff together lately.

You are welcome to email me if you want to talk more or vent. You are not alone.

Suse said...

I have no words of wisdom.

But I can tell you that you are SO not alone. Not many of us are the mothers that we thought we would be.


Mon said...

Well, my little 'poem' was timely wasn't it? lol

Besides Doc's VERY important point about the sugar...

" I do not know how to nurture myself"

This, to me, is everything. This says all your post in these few words.
The problem is not the Beanie, not your relationship with her, not even your parenting.
The problem is your relationship with you. IMHO

Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara said...

It is so difficult to be a parent at times. Sometimes I wonder if I am selfish... too selfish to be a parent. I love my little bug and want to do right by him. But damn it is hard at times. Especially when I long for sleep and peace and quiet. For easy travel and grown up activities. When the sight of toys all over the living room floor makes me want to scream. Your honesty here is refreshing to say the least. Helps us others out here know we are not alone. All I can say is... it does get better at times. Then gets crazy again. Take care of YOU... and don't feel guilty about it. Take more alone time if that is possible. It's ok to not want to be with your babe every second of every day. It's okay. Take time for you and you both will reap the rewards. xx

Anonymous said...

Wow, all my blog travels this morning are so relevant. My son has been driving me nuts lately - all he does is whine. I can't stand it, and I know he feels my aversion, which makes him whine more, and it is a never-ending cycle. Right now, I can't see how to break the cycle.

Anyway, in my opinion (and I don't know you well, but I do pop over occasionally) you ARE awake in your parenting or you wouldn't even be writing this. Most people I see don't ever think about it. They are too wrapped up in their own head. So just the fact that you are thinking about this means something. And I think all the 'perfect mothering' expectations out there are such a disservice - have your ever read Judith Warner's Perfect Madness? I don't agree with everything in there, but I think she is on to something.

sol y luna said...

Ahh, my darlin'. I can't wait to see you. We'll have big hugs, talks, massage and feasting. It's been too long.

I hope you're ok re all the evacuation business. So fecking stressful on top of everything else.

Oh yes, the wicked three will be together soon.xx

Moonroot said...

FWIW I don't know a single parent who thinks they're doing a good enough job.

As for the cooking bit, I'm right there with you. And I only have me to cook for!

Please don't beat yourself up, you are under huge stresses, and as many other people have commented it's clear you adore your daughter. I'm sure she knows it.

Carin said...

Have just caught up on this and just wanted to offer you a *hug*.

You are aware in your parenting, that is plain to see. At times this mothering business is just darn hard and overwhelming.

While we're knee-high in the crap, all we can do is take one minute at a time and remember to breathe. Solutions come later, when we're out of the situation and can look back at it with clarity. I've just had to take some time out to work on the same stuff. My realisation: I stretch myself to thin, and don't look after myself well enough. So I'd definitely look into the blood sugar thing. There may be something in it.