*** This post has been submitted to The Wall by Anon ***
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I always thought I’d be a great mum. I read a lot, I understand all the theories about parenting, discipline, and raising a healthy and happy child. I cringe when I see parents handle their children roughly, ignore their children, belittle their children, shriek at their children, verbally abuse their children…. I thought I knew what not to do and what to do and that I’d be a great mum.
And then I had kids.
I simply wasn’t prepared for the sheer frustration of having a baby who’s been sleeping peacefully in your arms wake the second you put her down, no matter how carefully. For a baby who wants to breastfeed every hour on the hour 18 hours a day, and then every 3 hours the rest of the day. For the toddler who cannot spend a second away from me at home. For the toddler who can say “what’s wrong Mummy” 143 times in a row when nothing at all was wrong in the first place, but something was very wrong by the time she got to #50. For the toddler who only ever wants to play with me, never, ever on her own. For the exhaustion that comes from having 2 kids come down with various bugs one after the other for weeks on end, simultaneously, while I fight off infection myself and my other half sleeps peacefully in the spare room. For the toddler whose favourite phrase is “but I want it” and can repeat it, screaming and crying, for 30 minutes + non stop despite my ignoring her tantrum. For the toddler who will deliberately do something so naughty and dangerous that I simply can’t just let pass at the exact time I cannot quickly address it, such as when I’m breastfeeding or changing a nappy. For the child so sensitive to my moods that it takes every shred of energy I have to keep my mood elevated to try and prevent things spiraling out of control. For the isolation I feel with my other half working long hours and weekends. For the demoralisation that creeps up when my toddler behaves perfectly, and plays independently, for everyone other than me.
I don’t know if my kids are more difficult than average to deal with. I certainly made life more difficult for myself by banning television before the age of 2 and then only allowing playschool – so I have no TV to fall back on as a babysitter.
But I know that much of my frustrations stem from my attitudes and behaviour, It’s like tennis – I’m a fantastic armchair critic. I understand the game well and I know good play from bad. But put a racket in my hand and I”m a disaster. When it comes to parenting what I have very quickly realised is that I have far too little patience to parent the way I want to parent. I find it so incredibly difficult to deal with irrationality – and babies and toddlers are gorgeous little bundles of irrationality. I find myself clenching my teeth so hard I’m afraid I’m going to break them. I have developed a click in my right jaw that it is intensely painful and I am sure is a direct result of the clench. I sometimes just want to shake my little girl when she is deliberately winding me up by pulling on my laptop cable or rocking on the bar stool or standing in the baby’s bouncer about to break it – of course I never have and never would. But I end up with a tension headache and the extreme exhaustion that comes from mental and emotional stress.
And then I read blogs and websites of an evening whilst breastfeeding my baby and read all about the wonderful ways of parenting that I know and understand and desperately want to achieve but fail at miserably when it comes down to it. Every day I resolve to try new techniques and sometimes they work, but often in the heat of the moment I forget and things end up spiraling downwards yet again.
I know I’m not a bad mum. I am a good mum. And I know I’m going to be much better as the kids grow older and mature intellectually and emotionally. But I am not the mum I thought I would be and want to be and that makes me deeply sad.
On top of that my house is a bombsite – housekeeping was never a strong point of mine and kids certainly makes it that much more difficult. I’m overweight and not healthy – I seem to catch every bug going around that my delightful toddler brings home from daycare. I do cook from scratch and avoid processed food, so I do at least know that what’s going into my family’s bodies is wholesome, even if there aren’t as many veges are there should be. I keep making plans to get on top of the housework and to get more active and lose weight, but they fall to the wayside very quickly when anything goes wrong with one of the kids. In short, I don’t feel in control of my life – and as a control freak that makes me anxious.
I know I just have to accept myself for who I am. I need to get some inner peace so that I have the patience to handle my kids’ irrationalities without it taking a physical toll on me. I’m taking the Triple P parenting course in a few weeks. I need to reach out more to other parents and take some time for myself to look after my mental health.
Right now I’m going to bed. Tomorrow I’m getting up early and I’m making a weekly plan that schedules my housework, my exercise, my activities with my family and some regular time for myself that is workable that I can stick to so that I can feel in control of my life again.
Writing this has been cathartic – I have not been able to share these feelings with anyone. I have tried to talk to my other half and he means well but he never seems able to do or say the right thing – I’m sure that’s more a reflection of my frustrations than anything else.
Thank you for giving us the space to vent here when we hit the wall. I don’t know if I’m ok or not but I do know that I am going to be ok.
This post submitted by: Anon
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