This mommy gig is really hard emotional work….



 

Any one who knows me will easily be able to gauge that I lucked out when they were handing out patience.  I have always been wound just that little bit too tight.

My ability to appear/actually be patient is lacking at the best of times.

I am impatient with those I love.  I am decidedly impatient with those I can’t stand. And fools and call centre staff get the full onslaught of my wrath.

One if the problems (and there are several) is that my impatience and inability to maintain my composure makes me sometimes treat my loved ones with a disregard for their feelings.  Subsequent to the fact I am always sorry, but seldom say it out loud.

Instead I hold it in and persecute myself.  I go for a bit of self-flagellation, which makes me feel crapper than I do any way.  It is all a bitter cycle, that builds momentum and gains speed of epic proportion.  The more I am unhappy with myself, the more I internalize things, and the self loathing grows.

It just seems that while in the moment I am almost unable to control my zero-to-being- totally-fucked-off- in-eight-seconds-or-less reaction to things.

When I am tired, stressed and anxious it is worse.  (Right now I am tired, stressed and very anxious.)

The issue I wish to focus on today, is that I have lacked patience with Connor.  It feels like I have always lacked patience with him.

I am not sure exactly why.  But the truth be told, he is probably the child I reserve the least amount of patience for.

I am not sure of the reason, and I am sure it is not anything he has done.  It is totally a fault that lies in my character and my inability to deal with him in a rational and calm manner.

I love that child dearly.  I would die for him if I had to.  He is really one of the sweetest children – in character – that I have ever met.  

But I have realized for some time – and with much embarrassment – that there is something about him that sets me off.  He knows my triggers – consciously or unconsciously.  He knows them, and he knows how to apply the pressure that sends me off like a rocket.

It is a bit like that new guy who just started working at your office.  Helluva nice guy, friendly and very personable.  But there is just something about him that rubs you up the wrong way.  It is not what he says or does, it is actually just that he exists and that he exists in a 10 meter radius of you!

Initially when I had Connor  I put it down to the fact that I was overwhelmed/distraught/a shit mother and had colossal amounts of problems that I was hoarding away under beds and in cupboards.  I struggled with him – I struggled with me – and I struggled to be patient with him when I should have been more so.  Connor always knows I love him, and adore him – he also knows that unfortunately I am a bit erratic and quick to anger.

When I had Georgia and Isabelle, I realized that though they tire me, as kids do, they do not seem to set me off like Connor does.  With Connor I am generally rattled and frizzled (less now that I was).

I read a book several years ago – A Child Called “It”  by Dave Pelzer.

Long story but the short of it, was that he was one of five brothers, and his mother was the poster child for good mothers.  Very active mom.  She was the den mother for their scout group, and very involved with her children and the community.  But for some reason she started to abuse her one son, Dave.  Totally random, totally uncalled for.   She abused him in every conceivable way, she was vile and cruel.

I read it before I had my children, and I think if I read it now, it might be a bit too traumatic and I am not sure I would get through it having a little boy of my own.

There is this part in the book towards the end where Dave is trying to come to terms with why his mother abused him but left his four brothers alone.  What was it about him that set her off?  (Please bear with me as I am recalling this book and I read it more than 10 years ago, so I am doing a serious memory backtrack, and may be a bit off with the details.)

There was a psychologist/psychiatrist who commented that no one knows what makes a mom target one of her kids.  But it could be something as small as a smell, which triggers an emotion or a reaction in a mother.  It might cause her to react differently to one child versus how she may behave to the others in her brood.

When I realized that Connor managed to get under my skin, and he actually caused me to become angry, not upset, like blood-curdling- I-can- see-only-red angry.  I got fearful.  For me.  For him.

Maybe I might be Mrs Pelzer or a bit of Mrs Pelzer was living in me – and Connor might be “that boy.”

It is a guilt I have carried with me for a very long time.  I am really concerned that I might one day do something in my rage that I cannot stop, and will forever regret.   I have often done things in my “blind rage and anger” that afterwards I recognize weren’t signs of healthy behavior, and have given me many hours of purging on therapists couches.

When I say I struggle, I really mean I fekn battle with motherhood.  I know some very dark places, and I feel like I have been right to the bottom.

Connor is now nine years old.  He is a very sweet and even tempered child. He is naturally good and sees the good in others.  He loves nothing more than for you to be pleased with him.  He is gentle and loving, and appears secure and happy.

He values the praise of others too highly.  He needs affirmation from others.  I worry this will cause him pain and anguish moving forward in his life, and make his life hard.

But he is the way he is, and he really is a lovely sunny guy with the kindest soul.

Something I noticed in the last two months is that when he gets angry or impatient with Georgia, he speaks to her in the “angry” voice I used to use to speak to him (when I got angry and saw red – it does not happen often, but I will not deny that it still does happen).

When I heard him speak to her like that, I literally gasped.

I could have gone stomping into the room and demanded he apologise to her for being so abrupt and basically mean.  But it is difficult to do that when you have tears in your eyes and a lump in your throat, at the realization that your “horribly angry voice” is now speaking through your son, like a bad Vegas ventriloquist show.

It really was a pretty crap moment for me.  And made me sad right down to the fibre of what keeps my joints together.

It was one of those moments when I literally heard the car tyres screech in my head, as I gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles and thought “good gawd, what have I done, what now?”

The situation at home right now is that Georgia is 5 ½ and it appears that she has lost her ability to hear me speak.  I can speak to her until I literally have to scream at her because she has totally muted me out.

I speak nicely.  I speak in a measured tone.  I then speak with a bit more force.  I speak with animation.  I speak in a loud screechy voice.  I speak using only single syllable words.

I then progress to speak in an angry clipped tone.  When all of that fails – and Georgia just does not seem to be reacting, I screech at her in my “psychologically damaged do-what-I-am-telling-you-to-do-or-I-am-going-to-smack-you-into-next-week” voice.

The problem is that she is still not listening even though I do time out/deprive her of television/sit and reason with her/threaten to inflict bodily violence on her/threaten to throw Barbie and My Little Pony out of the fekn car window – she is impervious to it all.

 The final (or my final) resort is being this ugly mom person to try to get her to react or to comply.  The problem is the ugly mom person is too close to the surface for my liking and leaves me frayed and unfortunately very disappointed with myself, and angry with her, and exhausted!

The thing I have realized in the last three month is that maybe Georgia is going through a “phase.” She used  to be the “good one”  – she used to be the one who listened.  Now she is the one most likely to get a hiding over the weekend combined with time out!

What I have realised now is that maybe it was not Connor that was difficult (I would say he was challenging).  Maybe the problem was that when he  was going through his “I am not going to listen to mom unless she goes totally off her face” stage – Georgia was between 12 – 18 months.   So I was comparing him to a toddler – Georgia – who is generally a bit more compliant and easy to deal with that a young child who starts to express his boundaries.  Added to that I was going through so many things in my personal life, that I was raw and frayed most days, and had no facility for patience and being able to reflect on what I was doing.

(I am not excusing myself or making up a reason to fall back on.   I admit I am a crap mom most of the time, but I am less crap than I was, and hope to be less crap tomorrow than I am today – that is all I can do right now.)

Unfortunately my boy got to experience the really horrible side of his mom.  He saw the worst of me and I am embarrassed (and afraid) to admit, that I think his character has been “damaged” a bit because of it.

So how now?

I am not sure.

I feel terrible that I was so mean to Connor when he was a mite, and need to find a way to “unlearn” the behavior I have taught him is acceptable.  It isn’t and it wasn’t.

I am not sure how to go about it.

I am not sure if I can change, but there we are, such is the way it is right now in my neck of the woods.  I know this post rambles, but I feel a bit ramble and disjointed at the moment.

I think the summary is that I was not the best I could be for Connor.

I am sorry and I regret that I did not try harder and achieve more.  I am sorry that he had to endure me.  I am sorry that I was and am not more patient. 

I am sorry that I was not a more mature wise mother to realize that it was not him that was pushing by buttons, but that my buttons had been rubbed so raw, that any friction against them was agony and created a reaction.

I am sorry that I was not better, and I am sorry that I am still not the best I can be. 

 

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11 Comments

  1. Hilary

     /  July 7, 2011

    Now you see this right here is what I’ve been missing while I was away on maternity leave. This open and honest communication. that people just dont talk about. I also have a 3.5yr old who brings out ugly-monster mummy and spend more time than I can even mention, actually praying to God for patience before I do something to him that I can never undo. It breaks my heart when I see him mirroring my aggressive behaviour on his toys. I know spanking and shouting gets you nowhere but I still find myself doing just that. I think we as mothers tend to harp and have guilt trips about our negative behaviour and forget the positive things we’re teaching our kids. We’re all trying to do our best and should realise that unless we consciously try to change our behaviour and perceptions inevitably the shit we’re carrying from our childhood and our experience with our parents will rear its ugly head in our relationships with our kids. I love my boy and it’s a daily struggle for me to be a good example for him. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  July 7, 2011

      Thanks for reminding me of this post — sometimes it is good to go over and read something and remind yourself of what you have learnt … and maybe forgotten …….

      Reply
  2. julz

     /  January 25, 2011

    This post breaks my heart. If only there was a way to rewind and redo. I have no idea how we as mothers can go back and erase our shocking moments. I am sure we all have them. I know I do. That shake when Dylan was a baby. The rediculous slap when he throws a book at me and it hurts me. So much anger inside aimed at him. Sometimes hatred.

    All I do is talk. Talk to Dylan. Acknowledge his pain. Sit with him every night and tell him how much he means to me and how proud I am of him and then hope that tomorrow I will be kind and have patience with him.

    I did a few sessions of play therapy with him after I told my therapist about my feelings so that she could assess not him, but me and how I relate to him.

    Afterwards, with her help I realised that our perception of the situation isn’t a true reflection at all. The guilt we feel overides every positive aspect of our relationship with our child or children. I felt disconnected from my son, but according to the therapist we have a unique and beautiful bond.

    Now I just need to work on accepting that I am not the bad mom I though I was.

    Neither are you. x

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  January 25, 2011

      Thanks Julz, I appreciate your relating your stuff. I like the idea of the play therapy with someone to assist if maybe i am not seeing it correctly. xx

      Reply
  3. Claire

     /  January 25, 2011

    I have also had my moments when I wonder if I am turning into Mrs Peltzer, Brandon has a way of turning me into a screaming, red eyed banshee.
    I don’t know what it is but there are days when I could quite happily lock him in his room and afterwards I also do the mid-night replay thing and wonder why I lost it quite so badly, when what he was doing was actually normal 4 year old behaviour.

    I keep thinking that because he is older, he should know better, forgetting that he is only 4

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  January 25, 2011

      The middle of the night appears to be a wonderful time to cross reference all your sins, and replay them in your mind’s eye until you actually want to throw up!!!

      Reply
  4. Tania

     /  January 25, 2011

    Stop beating yourself up so much, it’s good to be aware of your short comings and to try to prevent, or, deal with them afterwards, the result is that you have the sweetest 9 year old boy any Mom can ask for, YOU have EVERYTHING to do with that. So much of what you mentioned between yourself and Connor I experienced and still do with my son Ethan, now 9 1/2 years old. Maybe it’s just a Mom and Son (1st child) thing? God would not have given you Connor if he felt that you nor Connor could deal with one another. XXxx

    Reply
  5. Hi RM
    I can really relate to this post ! Thank you for being your honest self !

    I went through a really bad emotional patch from when my daughter was 1 until she was say 6 or 7 (well, that’s not a patch then is it ? More like half her life).

    Bottom line, I didn’t have my shit together in many many ways and she bore the brunt of my shit because I was a single mom and she was an only child.

    I used to threaten “do you want to see Monster Mommy ?” while frothing at the mouth (which was the see-red-ranting-and-raving-loon Mom you describe.)

    All I’ve done is try and clear up my guilt and self-beating-at-midnight is to be honest with current-day-11-year-old and explain how fecking tough things were back then as a single mom with zip money and a relocation (I’ve left out the depression for a later stage !).

    How much I fecking battled and my regrets (like the time I pulled her into the car a little too hard in anger when she was 3 and she sprained her wrist and – to my mortification- she wanted to wear a sling for all and sundry to see).

    We do even manage to laugh about the time Monster Mom broke the MacD balloon with her bare hands and threw it out on the highway after being bopped on the head once to often from the carseat !

    Hugs
    D

    Reply
  6. HA! Maybe its a boy thing? I react to Cameron like this and actually thought it was because he reminds me so much of his father (which really make me a GREAT mother).

    We do the best we can chick! Some days are better than others – some years are better than others! We do the best we can!

    Reply
  7. Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. -Oprah

    Thank you for being real. Xxx

    Reply

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