Hello ….. my name is Reluctant Mom and I am an internet addict …….

So, one of my issues (several) is that I have started slipping further into cyberspace and further out of reality.

I began to dodge real-life things so that I could spend more time on-line in blogs and on forums, and just cruising around the net.

I got really irritated with the kids because if they would just stop demanding time from me I could herd them into their beds, and spend more time on-line in blogs and on forums.

It became extremely important how people in cyberworld viewed me.  CRITICALLY IMPORTANT IN FACT.

Their comments lifted me up as well as smacked me down. If I did not get recognition for it in cyberspace then it did not matter.

I would read, re-read, and re-read my comments to ensure that it sounded right in my head.  It was not unusual for me to read one of my comments 12 – 18 times before pushing send/reply/publish and often changing it several times over.

Each time I read it, I would read a more critical tone into the wording.  I would read the way other people would hear (read) and then I would pre-judge myself (before they did)

Any comment made or given in reply was fraught with angst.  I always read the worst in to what anyone said to me or about me, or as a comment to me.

I would push the refresh button constantly on the look out for the response.  I literally would hang on waiting and waiting for the response.  As much as I dreaded a critical word, I would hang and wait for it.

I would be devastated when my comment would hang there in cyberspace without a reply comment.  My worst feeling was being the last person to comment on a thread.  I felt like I was Jane-no-mates and had killed the conversation when mine was the last comment.

This of course fed into my sense of “rejection” and “I did not matter to anyone.”

Real life and cyber life started blurring around the edges.  I felt that real life was a bit too tricky to remain present in, so the blur of cyberlife became much more appealing and much easier to navigate.

In cyberworld I did not feel as awkward as I did in real life.

In cyberworld I did not feel as self-conscious as I did in real life.

In cyberworld I did not fret over my every word and action as I did in real life.

In cyberworld I did not feel so unpopular and such a misfit as I did in real life.

I felt I was knowledgeable, liked and respected in cyberlife, while in real life I was everything but.

I did not think people had ulterior motives as I felt they did in real life.

Until I did.

Sooner or later, unfortunately I followed me where ever I was.

Sooner or later, I started to feel as awkward, as self-conscious, as guilt laced, and wracked with self-doubt on blogs and on forums.

Every word uttered by everyone was judged according to what I thought of myself.  It was always seen as judgemental/critical and pessimistic, no matter how “jolly” or “supportive” the writer tried to be.

Fortunately I am not a gamer or a gambler.  I have no real interest in throwing large sums of hard-earned money at an imaginary world where I buy cyber-cool brands and furnish my cyber-home and purchase a cow.

I am just not that into that side of it.  Fortunately.

But I will admit that my fixation on blogs and forums and Facebook and googling-random-things did get totally away with me.  It became all-consuming and I totally allowed it to get away from/with me.

It allowed me to hide further away from some of my real issues.  At the same time it fed into my irrational feelings and judgement about myself, and escalated the negative light in which I see myself (and several others around me.)

In short, it skewed my perception of reality.

I really missed my blog, so I have cautiously started lurking around here a bit.

I do miss several other blogs and forums that I used to read/follow religiously.  Right now I just needs a bit of time to “get my shit together” before I start lurking through other people’s lives.

I apologise if I have not been by to visit.  Please do not take it as a personal insult or slight on you. Right now I just need a bit of space to find myself, or at the very least not loath myself.

But onwards and upwards.  Right?

<I thought this was quite an interesting tool.  http://www.keepmeout.com/en/ >

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Dropping the ball …

 

I really feel that I am failing on so many levels at the moment.

My biggest issue right now – tomorrow I will have a new one – is that I am failing with Isabelle. 

I am just not available for her at the moment.  I either leave for work in the morning, and she has not woken up, or I spend 20 minutes with her between me getting ready and her waking up, and then I abandon her as I rush out the door.

Most days I home at about 18h30 or later and she goes to bed at 19h00.

I have noticed she has got very clingy and very whiny around me – and insists she is near me,  or I hold her hand.

She takes my hand and leads me to where she wants me to sit or stand.  She pulls at my clothes if I am sitting down and she wants me to come with her.  Then if I try to leave the area, she throws a mother of a thrombie!  She gets visibly distressed and the tears run down her chubby little cheeks.

I feel guilty.  I feel disappointed and then I feel angry.

And then I take my anger and frustration out on Kennith, because who else is available?

When I am with Isabelle I am aware of the short time, and I start dreading the end.  When I leave for work, she cries, and hangs on to my hand, and I have to hand her to Pepe while she makes those dramatic “mommy grabby arm” movements …. more heart wrenching it does not get. 

When the night ends and I put her in bed, she goes ballistic.

So even when I am with her for the precious little time there is, I am already dreading “the end” and knowing that the inevitable parting must come.  Then instead of delaying it, I decide to shift it up a gear and do it a bit earlier, as I am dreading it so much I want it over with – of course this cuts down the time I spend with her, but increases my guilt.

Make sense?

No, but I seldom do.

I enjoy work, I like my job, but it is not the kind that lends itself to flexibility of hours.

The good side is that I start at 9am, so I can drop the kids off at school in the morning, with less of the “tuck and roll out of a moving car” that I used to do in the past. 

If Connor reminds me that he needs something for school – as he did at 7am this morning – it is not a panic.  I can stop on the way to school and get it for him – the morning madness is still madness, but it is not overlayed with me stressing about being late for work.

But I can’t spend more time with Isabelle as I still need to leave the house in time to get the kids to school.

I just feel sh&t and well not-good-enough right now.

My thinking is that I will put my head down and get through this year.  I will suck it back and just get through it, and make a decision in December on how to tackle 2012.

Next year Georgia starts grade 1, Connor will be in grade 4 and the pressure of school and homework will escalate.  I need to find a way to be more available and be able to offer my kids the support they need. 

I know I often make remarks about how I outsource their needs to staff, but you do get that I am being flippant and that I do care deeply that they are provided for on all levels?

I worry that I am doing Georgia a disservice.  She needs more attention right now to get her speech up to scratch and general assistance so that she gets through Grade R confidently and then gets through Grade 1.

I do not want to be a stay-at-home mom, I really do want to go work, I just need flexibility – but I am quite attached to my pay-check, so would like flexibility and a paycheck! < which is the lament of most if not all working mothers I would guess>

I do not want to attend every school hotdog-stand day or bake-a-cake-sale, but I do want to pick one or two to do a year, and right now that is just not working.  So this year is not quite going as I had originally pictured it, but maybe it is, and I just chose not to be realistic about the picture.

This year – and I know it is only April – I have felt like I have missed so much with the kids.  I always appear to be in catch up mode, and that is not my most comfortable default position.

I am looking forward to this long weekend and just to spend time with the kids.  

I do not have to do hard-core arts and crafts with them or anything, but I just want to sit near them, be around them and smell them and hear them laugh and make fun of each other – I have been missing that!

Deeply embarrassed and shamed …

So bookclub has had a few issues for me for a bit.  Small stuff really, but it has been niggling at me.  I felt I would feel better addressing the issues and resolving them, because they were niggling me.

Good plan.

Not a good plan when you feel a bit emotional, and have had about 3 glasses too many, and then decide to address something that really should be a one-on-one problem solving exercise, and decide instead to do it in front of the entire group.

I am mortified that I am such a total douche-bag!

There I sat and I vented and emotionally vomited in front of 7 rather startled looking people.

I really would love to say that I carried it off with aplomb and made my point succinctly – but unfortunately the opposite is true.

I totally offended anyone who breathed.

I went off like a deranged lunatic, and I managed to alienate everyone in the room – and at the time I had no idea what the hell I was doing, but felt, at the time, that I knew exactly what I was doing – and quite vindicated in my stand point (at the time).

However retrospect is a wonder in itself – and when I had time to calm “the f&ck down” – as I like to say – I was able to look back and realize the absolute devastation I had caused and more importantly  “what the hell was I thinking”.

What a total f*ck up – total.

So Thursday morning had me feeling so embarrassed and shamed – not ashamed, but SHAMED.   I was mortified that I had sat and felt that what I was saying was correct and appropriate, and justified. 

My brain, and my mouth, and my logic had disengaged totally, and I am so embarrassed.

Fabulous.

Not.

So there we are – I have managed in one foul swoop to become a total tosser (listen I always was, but I managed to sort of keep it mildly under wraps until now). 

Yesterday I felt more terrible that I have in a very long time.

I know the thing we would tell our kids is “go and apologise, and say you are sorry, and there is nothing more you can do …”

Hmm, good advise.

I have apologized for my outburst, but it is a bit like it has been said and it can’t be unsaid, so I sort of slink away very embarrassed.

Today I feel a little bit better – not absolutely better  – but at least I do not feel so ill as I did yesterday.  

Do you realize that you can actually feel violently physical ill from embarrassment and shame? I managed to feel that way the whole of yesterday – I was shaking and had a few crying jags just for fun!

Then I went to lie on my bed, not to sleep, but to close my eyes in the hope I might be swallowed up by the earth …. unfortunately it did not happen, no matter how hard you wish it – and I opened my eyes and it was still me staring back at me.

I still feel crap, and horrible, and embarrassed and shamed.

I f&cked up on a monumental scale, and that it can’t be undone –but there it is.

On the other side of rather unfortunate week I have also managed to:

  1. Lose my wedding ring – and I cannot locate it, and I am actually very upset and worried and upset.
  2. I mentioned before that I am attending a 7 week intensive work shop/group work – and for 2 hours a week I get to cry and unpack some stuff that I have been resisting for a long time with a group of similar minded girls.
  3. Watching the “La Viva V.ulv.a” DVD had a profound effect on me.  It has made me question how I view myself, why I view myself as I do – and as importantly what messages I am passing on to my daughters.  I feel that there has been this mental shift ….and it has left me feeling very uncomfortable and at the same time forcing me to relook at myself….which is not keeping me in my happy (and ignorant) space.
  4. I have realized – rather uncomfortably – that I have got exceedingly judgmental person and am really hating that quality about myself.  At the same time am a bit stuck as to how to make me “less judgmental.”
  5. I was wondering if I could find a support group for Alcoholics Anonymous (who still drink) who specialize in Verbal Diarrhea with a minor in Shame and Embarrassment.  I am looking for that sort of support group, so if you can recommend anything, please let me know.
  6. I feel emotionally exhausted and just drained at the moment – and I do not know what I need to remedy me.
  7. And I am still a total douche bag!

Nanny steals baby …. and other scenarios I keep myself awake with ….

Remember that pasta advert a few years back, when the woman pulls the little Italian woman out of the cupboard and then she whips up a pasta extravaganza (Fattis and Monis I think) and prepares everything.

When she is complete, the woman (hostess) enters the kitchen gives her a wry wink, and shuffles her back into the cupboard where the mops and detergent live.

Then the hostess then takes out the prepared food to the adoring guests,and laps up the praise as it appears she did it all.

That is pretty much how I would like my nanny to be – always there, and always available, working magic behind the scenes.

But as we cannot make Pepe legally live in a cupboard, and possibly because she is not an Italian woman from an advert.  Pepe also takes leave each year (those pesky basic conditions of employment rear their ugly head again much to the inconvenience to the white madam).

Just a bit of background, I work a full day and so does Kennith.  Isabelle stays at home with Pepe and our two older kids get home around 16h00 from school – and then the dinner/bath/evening fighting starts. 

If I did not have a Pepe, odds are I would not be able to work a full day, and then my kids would be stuck at aftercare/creche until 6pm on most nights.  I understand that for many working moms this is the only way it can be, but I have the benefit of working and still geting kids home to be at home for the late afternoon/evening without the chaos.

The only reason my household functions is because I have a Pepe – and I give daily thanks that I have someone like her making it possible to do what I need to do (without me having to drink more to cope).

At the mere mention that Pepe needs to go on leave throws me into an absolute f&nnie flap – and this year was no exception.  Usually she goes in December/January but this year she opted to go in March.

Of course that made December/January brilliant – us off to work, kids at home, and clothes that were magically packed away, and dishes that miraculously washed themselves.  It was all fabulous and a totally heady experience!  I was drunk with how divine it was.  I congratulated myself daily on how fantastic my lot in life was.

Fast forward to March and I am now in the midst of what can only be described as a mini/major (it fluctuates depending on the time of the day) nervous breakdown.

I went through an agency, interviewed three ladies, regretted one who was just too timid, and looked at the other two candidates a bit further.

I did references, and thought about it long and hard.  I brought the both women in for a trial for 3 days each so I could get a better sense of them, and have them living in my space.  I decided to go with the one lady – let’s call her nanny F for now.

Other lady nanny J was brilliant, but I thought nanny F was a better fit, but I might be keeping nanny J in my cupboard for weekends.

So nanny F started yesterday and Pepe left on her month leave last night.  It was as if when Pepe walked out the door hell broke loose.

The kids were fighting.  Isabelle was crying and clinging to my leg.  \Georgia was screaming (SCREAMING) that her pieces  of torn out paper she had torn up yesterday were missing.

It was totally fekn chaos!

And then I realized this was going to be my month forward – it was as if I had been given  a  glimpse, a snap shot,  of what was coming my way for the next 30 days. 

If Pepe was there she would have known what to do and the situation would not have escalated. 

Nanny F took one look at the situation and decided that ironing might be a good thing to be doing right now.  (tip, it wasn’t!)

I poured myself some wine, put Isabelle who had snot on her upper lip, on my hip and then proceeded to attend to Georgia who was officially have a po** collapse (I must thank my friend Natalie Black for that wonderful term – I do not use it often, but when you see a p.c. then you know that is the only phrase that is going to work)

I went over to nanny F and explained to her that when she hears kids screaming it would really help me, if she stopped ironing (which I do appreciate, as I do not iron) and rather attend to the screaming child.  I might have used a slightly disdainful voice when I explained this, but I was pretty tense.

Then I got really exasperated that I actually had to explain that problem…..and started to doubt that maybe I had not made the best decision on bringing nanny F into the fold.

Georgia continued to go totally ape sh*t – I continued to try to sooth her – Isabelle cries if Georgia cries, so the entire situation was really not pleasant.  I was trying not to scream (because inside the voices were) but I tried to use the soothing mother voice, though, to be honest I was really one step away from having a po** collapse of my own.

All this whilst Connor is playing a computer game featuring fish.  What he loves to do,  more than anything,  is whilst I am in the midst of a total family drama he  pop his head in – usually in mid-sentence and says something like:  “Mom, I just caught a Blue tang surgeonfish – it’s great, you know what they eat?”

To which I need to then ask: “No, my boy what do they eat?”

And so the exchange goes.

Please bear in mind I have no interest at all in what a Blue tang surgeonfish eats, that the sailfish is the fastest fish in the sea, and that the South American marbled hatchetfish are the only fish that can achieve powered flight.  I really have little regard for this information, but in our house if you plan on having any conversation with Connor, then this is sort of where the subject matter is going to be heading.

While all hell is breaking loose, I need to also compose myself for fish banter with Connor.

So I sort out Georgia’s dilemma, sooth Isabelle’s crying – which has escalated as I think she has realized I am getting a bit irked with nanny F.

Nanny F then walks in and shows me that the iron’s cord is burnt through – and she can no longer use it. 

I think wow, you have been here about 2 hours and we are already one appliance down…. Kennith is going to flip his lid.  I already start imagining the exchange as he sees the iron, and he will say something like: “Man, how did this happen?  She really needs to be more careful with the iron, you need to speak to her or she will break everything!”

Of course I will stand there, get annoyed as I would be thinking: “Or you could take three steps and then lean over and speak to her yourself!”

<Kennith’s defense he actually did not say any of these things, he just said, well we need a new iron and we need it quickly…..>

So all of this mania is going on, I finally get kids aimed towards bed, and I head towards bed myself.  I fall into bed rather than climb in with any sense of style or decorum.

<I had an optom yesterday as I have managed – through various levels of stupidity – to scratch my cornea on my right eyeball -normal words cannot accurately describe my discomfort>

My eyes are tired, my head hurts, I am irritable, my nerves are frayed and I am already exhausted and the month has not even started yet.   I am already predicting the chaos and starting to work through the various scenarios in my head and every possible permutation that may occur and what I will be doing when it does/might occur.

I fall asleep and then wake up at it is 12:10am and I lie there and start to worry.

I think I have made an awful mistake, and I am entrusting (with possibly my favourite child at the moment) to what really is a complete stranger.

I start creating an entire scenario of how this is going to play out, and all my scenarios end with me wearing sack cloth, crying with ash on my head, as I pull my hair out and plead with the not-so-friendly-police-constable to: “please just find my child, please find my child!”

All while they are looking at me with their little note books and small stubby pencils (in my mental picture they are in the blue uniforms from the mid 1980’s) and they are saying – in a very Afrikaans accent: “But lady what did you really know about this woman, when you decided to leave your child with her?”

So that kept me busy (in my head) until just before 5am.

This morning I woke up – feeling pretty grim, the acid in my stomach had already burnt a hole through to my arse.

I lingered and dawdled and left rather reluctantly this morning, and had no choice but to leave my little monkey with nanny F!

I literally sms’d everyone in my contact list and asked if they would please please please come by the house today and this week just to make sure nanny F had not absconded with my child.

I am in a total state today!  Total fekn state!

<please do not tell me it is going to be alright, as that is not going to help at all ……. I have already phoned her 6 times this morning, and yes things do appear alright, but how do I really know, for sure?>

I have managed to get hold of Judith who said she would make a plan and go over to the house and spend some time there.  I can’t tell you how much I am absolutely loving Judith right now!!! 

I told the guy at work about why I am so stressed, he looks at me – and in a very helpful tone says: “If something happens do you have any recourse with the agency?” Excellent question. 

Not an excellent question when I am thinking that nanny F has already sold my child for muti!!!

Catch you on the flip side ….

We are off to Drakensberg to celebrate the wedding of John and Natalie.    We are so thrilled for them, and dead excited to be part of their wedding.

We fly to Durban in the morning.  Then we drive up to the Drakensberg (I have never been to the Drakensberg and my geography is pretty sketchy, so I am even sure I am 100% sure exactly where it is.  But Kennith seems to know and we have a GPS, so no doubt I can read my Kindle and not worry my pretty head about details like directions.)

The idea is to stay there and do what ever it is that people do in the Drakensberg, attend the fabulous wedding, and hang out with a group of friends who will be joining us there.

Next Friday we drive up to Johannesburg, and stay there a few days.  Seeing more friends and just hanging around sort of stuff.

On Sunday we get to squeeze into a stadium with a few thousand people screaming for Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.  Of course I am sure that Bono will stare into the crowd, and see me back in row 175 and seat 54. and pluck me from the crowd so he can sing me a personalized version of “With or Without You!”

Nothing like a bit of delusional ism to keep you going.

The thing about this trip is we are doing it sans kids.

Usually there would be a split about now in terms of reaction.

Some moms are going to go: “Fabulous, lucky you, wish I could get a break from my set!”

Then there is the second set who are dialing ChildLine as they read this and thinking: ”Who does this woman think she is abandoning her children to go gallivanting all over the country side.  The scandal.   The indignation!”

Then there is a third set which would usually gasp a bit and go: “I could never leave my junior, I couldn’t be away from them for that long.”

I usually am okay with some adult time away from our kids, but I am actually not okay with it right now.  It is also a long time.  We leave Friday and we are back Monday after next.

It is too long, and I have been stressed and anxious this entire week, and right now I actually do not want to go.  I miss Isabelle too much already and I have not even left the house, so this week is going to be torture.  I appear to have moved from the first set of moms to the third set.

I felt out of sorts yesterday, and last night and this morning I have been totally out of sorts.

I woke up around 2am this morning and just could not sleep.  I just felt anxious and stress, and wanted to wake Kennith up and tell him that I was fine to fly to the Drakensberg to attend the wedding, but then wanted to fly home, and then I would fly back to attend the concert, but I did not want to stay away that long.

But I didn’t as I knew he would probably freak his bean, and then we would have a huge fight.

It wasn’t like I had not known about this trip 4 months ago.  I had.  I just had not paid much attention to it.  But it is here now.

My bags are packed, but I am loathe to leave tomorrow morning, but there we go, I am leaving, and it is meant to be this great week, but I am dreading it.    Listen it is a great week that has been planned, and actually I have had to do nothing.  Kennith has organized everything, all I am doing is arriving, but the problem is that because I know how much I am going to miss the kids – and how bad I feel being away from them – I think will take a bit of the smile off this week.

So there we go, I am out of here for a week.  I am going to miss my kids crazy, and especially  Isabelle.  Just tying this is making me feel even sadder.

As my penance I am going for a full body wax at 7am.  I thought I would do it without taking a Syndol just as punishment for abandoning my kids.

<just as extra penance, I was so out of it this morning, I put this stuff called AO Sept – which is like acid for your contact lenses – directly into my right eye ball this morning.

It burnt like a m*therf*cker.  I can’t actually tell you how much it burnt without the aid of profanity.

I thought my cornea was being dislodged from my eyeball.  We are not talking mild discomfort, we are talking silent-scream-while-you-bang-your-feet-on-the-floor-and-claw-at-your-eyeball pain!   I actually called my optom friend because I thought clearly it would require an eyeball transplant or something.

I spent the day walking around with an eye that is so blood shot it looks like I am bleeding to death – I have just started a new job, so that looked totally fantastic.  It was agony and I was in mild to severe discomfort for the entire day.

It is still pretty red and feels pretty grim – oh joy, possibly it will hide my crying tomorrow morning…>

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. 

 

Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight

Last night reminded me again that I had won the BEST Parenting BLOG and not the prize for BEST PARENTING Blog.

We went over to our mates Joyce and Leon for a braai last night, and met up with Lorna and Peter as well.

Cape Town is experiencing what can only be described as a heat wave at the moment.  If you do not have an air conditioner and access to a fridge with cold beer and a pool, then life right now is not dissimilar from Hades for you.  It is absolutely scorching.

Last night when we arrived at our friends home, at 6pm the temperature was 34 degrees.

At about 10pm I walked into the pool fully clothed and the temperature was easily 30 degrees then.  It was not hot as much as it was f*kn cooking!

Georgia has slept in her costume for two nights running!

Anyway back to my bad parenting moment.

Great evening, great food, great wine, possibly slightly too much wine.

But it was fine as Kennith had an ear infection and was on antibiotics so he was limiting his alcohol intake, and automatically made him the responsible parent and designated driver.

Kennith had also packed two bottles of wine for me – for one evening out!  I felt it was slightly excessive, but I also did not want to disappoint him.  Two bottles in one evening out is a challenge.  It is not impossible, but it is a challenge.

Any the who.  Great dinner, great wine, then when it was all over we went home.

Kids were exhausted with the heat and they had been swimming a lot, so they asked to sleep in the lounge.

Considering the couches still had their bedding on them from the night before, it seemed a sensible solution to just agree to let them sleep in the tv room again!

Our standards have really slipped during this school holiday.  I am not sure when the last time my kids had a bath – and Georgia is wearing a plait in her hair that I did on the weekend (today is Thursday!) – so that sort of comments on how personal hygiene has sort of got lost along the way.

Any the way, kids in bed, Isabelle into her cot.  She went to bed with just a nappy on as it was too hot to even consider putting anything else on her.

She fell asleep, or so I thought.  I stumbled to bed, put on my Ackermans nightshirt and fell into a I-ate-too-much-chicken-and-have-definitely-not-drunk-too-much-wine pile.

I fell asleep for what felt like five minutes and then I heard Isabelle screaming like she was being strangled.  I fell out of bed, picked myself off the floor, sort of fell over myself getting to her room, and burst into her room.

Arrived, and she was very upset (not because I had arrived you understand, she was upset and then I arrived – sorry I still feel a bit drunk clearly).

I proceeded to sit with her and rock her for what felt like an hour.  When her eyelids became heavy and I felt her breathing sort of slow (or my eyelids got heavy and my breathing started to slow). I placed her back into her cot and headed back to my bed.

Repeated the same procedure of falling into bed in a heap.  Only to be woken before I had actually slipped into rapid eye movement, by more screaming from Isabelle.

At this point I decided I was going to do the parenting-with-tough-love and would leave her to scream it out.  Eventually she will get tired and go to sleep.

I was desperate to sleep, so the room would stop spinning!  I lay there and tried to doze, but the screaming – she was screaming a loud, I was screaming on the inside – just would not stop.

I slammed my feet onto the floor as I heaved my mass out of bed.  Not only was I really tired, but now I was getting annoyed.

I march to Isabelle’s room to give her a firm talking to.  I flick on the passage light, open her door with just that too much force (so as to make an impression that I am clearly not happy), I enter her room wearing a very disapproving look on my face!

Only to find that she has caught her fat chubby leg between the bars of her cot and is screaming like a banshee!

I felt worse than dog sh*t left in the sun too long!  I freed her chubby little leg, rolled her on her side and patted her a bit until she dosed off, castigating myself for being such a bad person as I had let her scream while she was in distress!

Of course she proceeded to scream as soon as I got back to bed.  Of course now I jumped up like a Jack in a Box and did at least another four visits to her room.

Even when she stopped screaming and eventually fell asleep, the scream was still ricocheting in my head so much so, that I thought she was still screaming (even when I checked on her and found her sleeping three more times!)

I woke up before 6am this morning, feeling like death, and then because I could still “hear the screaming” I went to check on her again – and of course she was sleeping spread out like a Snow Angel in her cot, quietly sleeping as babies do.

I am now serving my penance. I really ate-too-much-chicken and have a pounding head-ache.  I am sleep deprived. And to show me that karma is a bitch, my right contact lens has got lost behind my eyeball, so it is like the itchy-and-scratchy show in my right eye-ball with reduced vision!

Fabulous!

(I have also just sniffed a bunch of my hair, that smells faintly like urine, so clearly at some point Isabelle also wee’d on me, which now appears to be in my hair!)

I am a turd ….

Clearly I have had a really crappy week!

By the time I get home from my fun at work, I am exhausted.  Not yawn exhausted but my-nerves-are-frayed exhausted.

I arrive home to be assaulted by dust and dirt and usually a contractor who has not arrived to finish what is supposed to be finished.  Which then is an indicator that what ever was going to take x time will now take x+1 day times. (Hey I did HG Algebra I will have you know …. until I dropped to SG, because if I kept up HG, I would never pass Standard 10)

I am not exactly on a go-faster-contractor-go-faster clock or anything, but I do want the contractors to finish so they can spend less time with my family, and well, more time with theirs.  (I could say I want them to fek off and leave me alone, but I was trying to find a more diplomatic way of putting it, as someone recently suggested I might not have the cleanest mouth for a blogger …. with children.)

My patience level is at an all time low, and my ability to interact with people is on the decline.

The kids have not been more (or less) difficult than normal.  The problem is that by the time I have them herded into the car, and I have pulled out of the respective school parking lots, an argument has ensued between the two of them.

This is all standard practice in our drives home.  I can usually switch off a bit, as my brain goes out for a little mental walk about, whilst they bicker about what ever it is that they are bickering about that day.  I am however feeling a little tense and the car drives home feel like agony and an eternity.

This week, I am a little low on resources and this week, I am a bit low on everything including my ability to “act normal” when a normal situation occurs.

I get home and count the minutes until everyone goes to bed, so I can just fall down and go “thank fek I survived another day!”

On Thursday morning Connor was looking for his school shorts.  He asked me where they were.  I responded by getting really angry at him and telling him that he needs to get his things together in the evening and not leave it until the morning and I was blah-blah-blah lecture blah-blah-blah vent.

(My berating him for asking me where they were, did take longer than if I had just told him where they were – I subsequently noted this point!)

Connor then decided he would go and look in the spare room for his shorts.

Problem is that because of the window-framer guys, the kids are bunking together and Isabelle is sleeping in the spare room and not in her room, because there is too much dust and dirt in her room.

Connor walks in to the spare room – Isabelle wakes up, and then starts calling for me.  He solves the problem by leaving the room, and closing the door, which of course (strangely enough) does not make Isabelle lie down and go back to sleep again.

The problem is now I need to stop preparing myself for work.  Go pick her up, change nappy, get bottle, settle her while I am trying to get breakfast for Connor and Georgia, and strain my tea bag in my tea cup –which I desperately need.

My usual routine, is to try to get ready and then go and pick her up out of her cot.

It just makes the morning a bit less complicated, and sort of ensures that I have taken some consideration with my wardrobe – like my shoes matching for instance and I got my bra facing the correct way – I aim just for the small things.

I got annoyed with Connor – and then I screamed at him through clenched teeth: “What the hell is wrong with you! I told you to use your shorts from yesterday, you have now woken up Isabelle! What the hell is wrong with you!

I was really angry, and I was not angry with him, I was angry with the situation I found myself in.

I was angry with my fekn company. I was angry that they did not value me enough to make an alternate plan.

I was angry that I was standing in my shortie jammies in the middle of the kitchen at 6am, and I already had grit and grime under my bare feet.

I was angry that I would not get 10 minutes to drink my tea while I prepare myself mentally to face this day.

I was angry that I had to go to work and continue to act like a mature person when all I wanted to do was curl into a ball and have a good cry.

I was angry that my financial situation is so precarious – though Kennith assures me that it is not.  I am angry that I will now be more of a strain on our financial position, rather than in a position to get us into a better financial position.  I was angry that now I will be more of a burden on Kennith.

I was angry that I had eaten all the damn cupcakes and the bag of Chuckles.

I was angry that there is now this issue with my mother, and I do not know how to resolve it.  I am angry that there is just too much stuff to deal with.

I WAS ANGRY, and I took it out on my eight year old child because he went to look for his school shorts in the room where the washing is kept, and it would make sense that that is where it is.

I feel like such a turd!  Because I was using my anger to have a go at him.  Because his feeling bad, somehow made me feel better (victorious) for about 3 seconds, and then I just felt like a total total turd!

I fetched Isabelle, changed her bum, warmed her bottle, gave her a cuddle while I tried to drink my tea and not mess  any of it on her (to avoid any rush visits to the burn unit at Medi Clinic).

I got dressed, herded the kids in the car and then drove to school while I alternated patting Connor on the head, and resting my hand on his leg (in a non suggestive manner), because I felt like such a stupid horrible f*kwit.

Friday followed, and when I fetched Connor I explained that I was not having the best day in the best week, in the best month, and that I was really horrible to him the day before.

It was not about him, he did nothing wrong.  I was just angry and stupid and was mean to him – and I was really sorry. (I sniffed back a little chunky tear as well)

Connor said: “It’s okay mom, I understand!”

Which of course forced me to explain why it was not okay that I was horrible to him.  But that I loved him and I was still a turd!

Connor likes bum humour, it cheers him up no end.

I would like Kennith to come home now, so this turd can hand over the imaginary reins of my life to him.

(This post was written on Friday, and I only posted it now, so Kennith is back, which is great.)

Some plans just do not work …

I took my youngest daughter along to a crèche this week.

I want to enroll her in January/February, but there have been some instances this year when our nanny was not available and I was put into what would only be called a stressful situation because I did not have a Plan B.

I get very stressed without a Plan B through F.

I opted to investigate Plan B which was to look at a crèche and maybe take her every Wednesday.  I figured she would get used to it, I would get used to it, and I would have a fall back plan in the event of something happening.

All seems like a good plan. Isabelle has been there once when I needed them as a Plan B and it was okay.

This week I decided to start the every Wednesday thing.

I already got anxious on Tuesday during the day.  Tuesday night I was feeling quite edgy.  Wednesday morning I was thinking this is not a good idea, but decided to put my head down and just get on with it – wearing my big girl panties and all.

Wednesday morning arrived, I got her ready.  But my heart really was not into it.

I kept thinking that I really do not want to be doing this – I really do not want to do this.  But I convinced myself that I need to act like an adult and just get on with it, and she would be fine.

Got her to the class – I was still really not happy with the idea.

I sat with her on the mat.  It was breakfast time so a little chaotic and there were all these babies and these two helpers were trying to do breakfast.  Shoveling drippy runny porridge into a group of babies is not my idea of a good time, and clearly did not fill them with the joy of life either.

The thing that disturbed me the most – and there were several things that disturbed me. There was a little girl who was at that point where she could crawl on her tummy but could only go backwards.

So she had gone backwards and was now stuck in a corner.  She was very sweet in her pink onesie, but sort of stuck there.  No one was helping her out of the corner as they were busy with the other kids.  She swung between crying sadly and smiling at me – it was torture to watch.

There was another little baby who was on her tummy, and could not roll over  – and she was also getting a bit distressed, and no one was helping her.

I sat on the mat with Isabelle – more for my comfort than hers – and looked out at all of this.  The more I sat there, the more distressed I got.

At one point I started to pat Isabelle’s hand.  I think I needed someone to pat my hand and tell me that it was going to be alright, because it really wasn’t.

I looked at what to me looked like baby-daycare-hell and then I thought “okay I need to leave her..”

I picked up my key, and stood up.  Then she looked at me, her eyebrow got a little crease, she looked at me, pulled her toy-doggy closer to her chest, and pushed her thumb further into her mouth.

I said “love you foofy-noof” and made to leave …. Isabelle looked at this, looked over at the other kids, looked back at me and then the crease in her forehead deepened.

I backed away further.  She assessed her surroundings, and sucked her thumb harder.

I got the to the gate and clicked it open – her eyes darted to me –now fully assessing exactly what was happening and put her head back and released the silent scream.

It’s that scream of anguish before the god-awful blood curdling scream that you know is coming.

And I left ….

The entire day I kept telling myself that this was a hugely shit idea and I need to go back and get her.  Then my other voice-of-reasoning  told me she is fine, and not to worry.  She will make friends and I will arrive and realise I over reacted and she had a great old day.

In the late afternoon  they combine the children that are left in the baby class with the children who are in the toddler class.  They move the babies over to the toddler class as both groups get really small.

When I got there, Isabelle was lying on the green mat by herself with tears streaming out of her eyes and down her cheeks – she was sobbing … all alone …. on the green flipp’n mat.

The first thing I noticed (beside her being alone, on her back, on the green mat, and crying her eyes out) was that her little toy dog – which is like her Linus blanket – was in another room.

Isabelle needs this little dog to comfort herself.  When ever she is distressed she rubs the little doggy’s ear, sucks her thumb and then feels better.  It is her little thing, and I had explained this to the class teacher.

So there my poop was all alone, crying her eyes out and no doggy in site.

The helper/assistant/satan’s maid servant returned to collect the last baby and then left the room, without so much as a backward glance at me or my destroyed child – no comment or mention that the day clearly was a shocker.

I scooped up my lump of sobbing flesh, gave her doggy to her, put all her stuff into her bag and left the crèche.

They can keep my damn money.  There is no way I will be darkening their door again. Isabelle can remain at home with Pepe and she can remain at home next year too – fek this as a plan.

I do not care if Pepe is off ill or otherwise detained.  I will just take time off work, but there is no way I am putting her into that school.

Kennith ever the economist said “well, you will save yourself +R1 300.00 per month” – then he realized that money saving was not quite the motivation here and quickly added “she is fine at home and also has the company of the other two kids in the afternoon, she will be fine, leave her at home.”

So that is that then – I am officially shelving any ideas to get her into a pre-school/crèche/caring facility and will leave her at home with Pepe indefinitely.

I do not recall being this traumatized when I took the other two to school, but I can honestly say I was totally distraught and I hate crechés/day care for babies.

Right now I am not ready for her to go to school and well that is pretty much that then … and because I am the mommy I get to make this decision, so yay for me!

I wish someone had told me …..

… how exhausted you felt once the euphoria of the birth had worn off.

…. how strange your body will feel to you now that it has all this extra padding and Pamela Anderson boobs.

… how difficult breast feeding can be, and how rewarding it can be if you get it right.

…. how much space the pram, the babyseat, the mobiles, the feeding chair, and all the other stuff really take up in your house.

…. how much of an impact this little person has on your relationship and your life.

… how alone you feel at 3am when you feel like you are the only person awake in the entire world.

…. that you are going to cry, and probably a lot – as it is all a bit overwhelming, and you know it is okay to just bawl like a baby with a snotty nose.

…. To start buying packs of nappies in the first month of pregnancy so I could build up a healthy supply – as the cost is exhorbitant.

…. To ignore everything and lie in bed with my tiny baby and have an extra long cuddle instead of rushing around and attending to the house and life.

… that pregnancy is the only time where you can just say “no” to things guilt free, and spend the time just resting – as you are going to need all the energy you can muster to get through those chaotic first three months.

… that trying to claim for UIF benefits through the Department of Labour might well send you into early labour or to jail for killing someone. There are companies that specialize in this (not the killing – though there are – but I am talking about companies that claim benefits on your behalf – try momsuifassist.co.za) , use them and do yourself a favour – you really do not need the aggravation!!

….that you do not have to be “fine” every time someone asks – it is okay to admit you are struggling and it really is hard.

… that the only mom’s who look perfectly turned out with beaming smiles and great hair, are those mom’s who have had two hours of makeup and hair, and the photographer is using soft lighting in the L&L magazines.

… that the woman in many of the pregnancy magazines have been retouched to hide their big blue veins on their boobs and their giant stretch marks on their stomachs. (I used to work at a company that retouched those pictures…)

…. that if you can afford it go for a wonderful photoshoot with your pregnant tummy. You might feel a bit like Orca, but you probably look wonderful and having great photos to remember that time are going to be absolute priceless to you.

… that in one moment you will get so angry with this little baby for keeping you awake and reducing you to a wet blubbering mess, but the very next moment you would lay down your life for this person without any hesitation.

It’s a Revolution ….or a mental breakdown.

I am feeling quite invigorated at the moment – I feel like my mind has had a little shift. I apologise upfront that this post is going to sound a bit manic, however I really feel like a light has gone on in my head and I have all sorts of endorphins surging through me today!

We are part of a culture that discourages mothers from discussing their doubts, insecurities, fears, and failures as mothers. It’s like a dirty little secret. If you show that you are really not coping and maybe not loving it every moment, then there is a real fear that you will be shown to love your kids less – you will be outed for the bad mother you already think you are.

We want motherhood to seem ordinary, not extraordinary. We go through pregnancy and birth < no matter how that baby comes out of you it is birth > it is traumatic on our bodies and take a real toll on your mind and how you interact with the world.

Because it occurs every day to so many women, it is trivialized and we need to act as if it is all so pedestrian. You are thrown – literally – into this sea of confusion and expected to just bob to the top and start swimming like a pro. Any non-compliance or thinking outside what main stream society tells you is unacceptable.

You must just love being a mom all day every day.

The more women I am interacting with through this blog and other forums, the more I am realising that it is not just me. There are so many women who really struggle and almost drown each day. But somehow they wipe their tears, put on some mascara and lipstick and smile sweetly at the world. (Usually they have not had a chance to brush their teeth or are suffering from violent constipation because they have not had a chance to go the bathroom, but we can cover that in a separate post.)

Not one person has ever spoken to me while I was pregnant and up until this day and said “You know I really don’t like being a mommy all the time!” Not one person – however I am getting so many responses from people that tell me clearly this feeling exists out there. I know lots of women who have had kids so they would know this stuff, but not one person has stepped forward and honestly told the truth about their lot and what awaited me.

People sort of indicate that it might be hard or smile knowingly and nod when you mention that you are crying uncontrollably.

But why do moms not take you into their confidence and tell you how it really is? Why must you find it out for yourself?

I know you will go through it – but when you start experiencing it without any kind of forewarning, you start feeling that you are somehow getting it all wrong, because other moms seem to be coping.

Other moms surely are not crying in the bathroom at 2am because surely they would have said something. Other moms are not hiding from their children, just so they get a moment to themselves, because someone would have said something. Other moms are not taking anti-depressant and trying to drink their problems away, because surely someone would have said s o m e t h i n g !

No, for some reason no one says anything. You are left to find this stuff out for yourself. Doubt yourself, hate yourself and wonder if you are even worthy of being a mom. How did this happen – why is there a conspiracy of silence?

For me I really felt isolated, confused, and afraid. I was convinced for the most part that I was a terrible, evil, awful mother who just did not know who to raise a child, let alone children.

What I have slowly begun to realize in the last few months is that what I have experienced is normal. I am not sure whether to be frightened that there are more people like me or comforted that I am not alone.

We need to start exploding the myth that it is easy and ordinary to be a mother. We need to acknowledge the dark elements that are part of the whole experience of motherhood.

The more we are able to recognize that motherhood is not soft lighting and photo-shopping the sooner we can counteract what we see in mainstream magazines and what is being pushed down our throats every day.

Next time you sit down with other moms wouldn’t it be great to have a real conversation about what you actually feel and how much you really struggle? Instead of the inane conversation about the colour of Johnny’s poop or how thrilled you are because Jane got her first tooth.

Start a revolution in thinking at your next mommy and baby group!