I am lost.

I am so totally, utterly and completely lost.

I don’t know which parenting book to read first, which website to visit, which therapist to call. I am struggling with the heavy weight of despair closing around me like a cage. It’s not so much my own depression that I am battling – though that war wages on (and on and on), it’s the added weight of feeling lost in my own family.

My beautiful baby girl – Beanie – I don’t think I could feel further away from her than I do right now. I think I have spent more time crying in the last few weeks than I have in the previous few years. I’m sure not having the buffer of the antidepressants makes things that much rawer but I also feel that it is the cumulative weight of my mothering grief that is really pouring out of me right now. Every day there is a new row, a new argument, a new drama to negotiate. Beanie is not yet 6 and she behaves like a hormonal teenager right down to the ‘”I’m not listening!” and the slamming of her bedroom door.

The hubble and I are struggling to understand what happened to our happy, funny little girl. When did this angry, sullen, overly sensitive teenager slip into our home and take her over? When did she decide that the only way to get our attention was to defy, challenge, ignore, scream, shout and push against us continually? Is this what being 5 is normally like? I keep hoping that it is a phase but I don’t think that it is. I had hoped that starting school would help her settle into a rhythm, help her to learn to listen and act as part of a little team. It has not. Her teacher, a lovely woman very experienced in teaching, has told us that Beanie is very ‘challenging’. Tell me about it. But where does that leave us? If a woman who has over 20 years of teaching calls our daughter challenging and finds her difficult to deal with, then what hope have we? We have a grand total of nearly 6 years experience of having children and most of those have been fraught. At least they have for me.

I can honestly say with my hand over my heart that I do not enjoy parenting. It’s not that I don’t love my children. Of course I do. With my whole conditional, demented heart but I do not enjoy the endlessness of this ‘difficult’ phase in my mothering journey. I have been on this road too long and no matter what help I seek, I am still here, still sitting in the shit and wishing it smelled differently. I cannot seem to move away from the sadness and the grief and the enormous guilt that I am forever saying and doing the wrong thing. I say things in anger that make my cheeks sting with shame afterwards. I try to reason with her like an adult, even though I know that she is still so very little. I lack the ability and the tools to know how to manage my angry child and not make it all worse. Not make my own anger and sadness worse. I’m sitting here, sobbing over my keyboard and trying to empty it all onto a page, so that i can at least find some space inside of me to figure out what to do next. Where to go now with my precious, rebellious, angry daughter.

Discipline doesn’t work, time-outs don’t work, consequences don’t work, taking things away from her doesn’t work. We have tried time-in’s but they are not working. I am desperately trying to master active listening, so that she feels heard – God knows with me for a mother and my own rage evident much of the time, she probably feels completely unheard – but I am trying so hard. I truly am.  Nothing changes her behaviour. She is rude and disobedient to us in particular, but it has started spreading to other adults too – her grandparents, her aunty, whom she absolutely adores, and to people she barely knows. I’m only surprised that it hasn’t been more evident at school. She isn’t rude there, just disobedient. And she doesn’t listen to anyone. Not ever. And then we will have a week where very little behaviour is evident, where we seem to have turned a corner and then BANG! for no apparent reason, she overflows with brattishness all over again and we are left standing in the debris wondering what the fuck happened. And I sit there feeling like it is ALL my fault. That my anger, my difficulties with mothering, my impossibly high standards for myself (and therefore probably others too), have just fucked up my bright beautiful little girl and I deserve everything I get. And I’m sure everyone feels like this from time to time but I know how bad it gets here when I am way out of control with frustration and resentment and every little thing sets me off. I am on simmer all the time with this PND and yes, I decided to come off the medication anyway. Mainly because it was simply detaching me even more than I do myself, every time things got tough – which is EVERY DAY. I don’t want to be emotionally disconnected from my children. I don’t want to not feel anything or feel through cotton wool. I thought that it would help, but it didn’t and the withdrawal from even the low dose of SSRI’s that I was on, was phenomenally bad. I will not ever take that kind of drug again. Not ever.

She is struggling and I don’t know how to help her because I am struggling too. I can work through some of my difficulties with my therapist, but what can she do? The only person she really has to talk to is me, or the hubble, and obviously we are the last people she wants to talk to right now. So we have made the decision to take her to see a child psychologist/family therapist. This is a major step for me because I feel so horribly responsible for the whole situation. I am terrified that when I explain honestly to the therapist what has been happening, that he will recommend that Lily be immediately taken away from me. Thus realising my absolute worst nightmare – that I am such a shitty excuse for a mother that I am not safe to be around my babies.

What the fuck do I do? How do I turn this horrible heartbreaking situation around and make it into something good before she hits her teens and we find ourselves in every parent’s worst teen nightmare. I am scared for our family and I am scared for her. This much wilfulness needs to find an outlet that is positive and self nourishing or it will destroy her and everything around her. I know. I’m jumping ahead wildly, she is only 5, but I can see it coming the way a rabbit can see the headlights of an oncoming truck and can’t seem to move out of its way. I am a staring down a semi with ‘out of control Wild Child’ written on its grille. And it terrifies me.

Wildling in the Forest

Wildling in the Forest

If you could see her – you would immediately know how wonderful she is. She is so smart, and so capable and she has such perseverance – she will try something over and over again until she masters it. That’s not to say that she does it with any kind of patience – we have many, many tantrums over her inability to do something initially, but she keeps going back. I know that feeling. I am the same. I don’t want her to be like me. I don’t want her to carry my issues as her own. I want her Spirit to remain intact. I just also want her to understand that in finding some way to express herself that is not defiance or downright rudeness, she is giving herself tools to manage her own volatile emotions and that can only be a good thing.



But if you did meet her, you might be amazed at how often we have to ask her to do something before it gets done. Or you might notice how cheeky she can be, how inappropriately she often behaves – like flashing her bottom at people for no apparent reason, or at us because she knows it incenses us. Or you might notice that she has seemingly boundless energy, which she more often than not uses to get into mischief or to just push buttons until something snaps and we go spiralling into another argument, another weepy tantrum, another round of screaming and door slamming. Even my patient, kind, playful hubble is losing the plot.

Dancing Queen (from the 1980's!)

Dancing Queen (from the 1980’s!)

When she sleeps, I go and sit by her bed and tuck her into her blankets. I kiss her softly on the cheek and stroke her head or hand and I tell her how much I love her. I tell it to her as she sleeps because I keep praying that in that open unconscious state, she will hear me as she can’t seem to when she is awake. My heart is breaking for our relationship. I don’t know how to move forward with her. I don’t know how to mend all that is broken between us and it is torture and pain and so much sadness I can’t contain it all. I think that I have spent most of the time between school drop off and this entry, crying. I am not someone who cries much. But these last few weeks I have made up for that in spades. I have never felt so ineffectual and there is only so much gentle discipline I can try with my exasperating child before I revert back to the disciplinarian and get angry again.

Me & My Girl

Me & My Girl

I am crying for myself and for her – that she feels so wounded that all we have is this fractured connection. I am crying for my wee Bear who is already picking up on her behaviour and copying it – as he does everything else she does. I am crying for the strain it is putting on my relationship with my beautiful, compassionate husband – and though I know he loves me and trusts me and understands how hard I’m trying, I also know that in his heart, he blames me a little too. I am crying for the nurturing mamma in me who can’t seem to catch a break and who would tear herself in half if she thought it would make everyone happier. I am crying for her because I so want to step into the role of mother and I cannot.  I just don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to travel this path with any kind of grace or understanding. I feel as if I am just swinging wildly from one problem to another with no way of making the pendulum stop.

I keep asking the Great Mystery to reach out a hand to help me. I need some guidance to figure out how to do this right. I don’t expect a life filled with roses and sunsets on the beach but it would be nice to know that there is even a chance I can spend one whole day with my child where we love each other and enjoy each other’s company. One day in which there is no drama, no tears, no anger, no pulling away or withdrawing. One day in which I can hold her hand and see the child she is inside and make her laugh again.

For her and for myself I am asking The Powers That Be – please, please help me. Please show me a way to make this right before it gets stuck in wrong, forever.


To Be Or Not To Be

Photo from here.

It feels like it’s been a looong week. Usually Wednesday is mummy’s day and Beanie goes to Nanna’s for some quality time in the garden. The first week of the month though is different, Nanna has her on a Friday and it makes for a long week. I have been more tired than normal (and I’m pretty tired anyway as a general rule) and the delight of my moon-time has been much enhanced this month with PMT that, had I not already been busy, could have seen me lopping the heads off passers-by with gay abandon. Guess St John’s Wort is too much of a wussy herb to deal with ‘women’s problems’ and, let’s face it, I have a spectacular array of those right now.

So, here I am. Pondering choices. The trouble with choices is that there are usually too many of them and they fill the head like a band of annoying Peruvian pan-pipe players (try saying that fast three times) until you just want to find a cave somewhere high in the Himalayas and stay there. And not even ‘until’ – just stay there. Period. So, what are these choices? Well, given the recent diagnosis of PND and my struggles with the whole motherhood thing, the choice I am faced with making is around whether or not to have another child. Its always been pretty much a given that I would have another baby. I have assumed that this is what would happen eventually but wanted to wait until I ‘felt better’ or less angry or less overwhelmed, which I don’t. Obviously. There is also the issue of my ‘advanced’ age in baby making terms. I am turning 40 this year and obviously fertility is an issue even if I don’t entirely believe that once you hit 35 all your eggs head speedily for the exit as if the ovaries are on fire. So now I’m not really wondering about how hard it’s going to be on my body and on my energy. I’m wondering if my assumptions about having another child are wrong. I’m wondering if I’m cut out to be a mother of one, let alone two. I’m wondering if I really will ever get to experience pregnancy and birth again. I’m wondering if my husband will get the second child he really wants but would sacrifice (how very biblical) for my wellbeing.

It’s a really hard decision for me. I have lived with the expectation that another child was a given. I have been preparing the groundwork for a long time despite much resistance, both conscious and unconscious. I have been chipping away at said resistance and now, with the PND Fairy taking up residence, I am having a good hard look at what I really want, what I think I want, what hubby wants and what is good for us as a family. I’m also allowing myself to think about the possibility of NOT having another baby and how that makes me feel. Actually, I know how it makes me feel. Sad. I have honestly been looking forward to the creation of another life, to another pregnancy and yes, despite my very natural fears, another ‘go’ at having that longed for water birth. I want another sibling for Lily. I grew up feeling very much like an only child despite having 3 (much older) siblings and it was rather lonely. I want Lily to have a confidante, a friend, a playmate and I want to see her become a ‘big sister’. If I choose not to have another baby, I lose all of that. I miss the opportunity to grow round and heavy with new life. To feel the little life moving around inside of me, pushing against the walls of its little home, letting me know that all is well and that he or she is there. I lose watching another soul come into being. I lose the opportunity to marvel at tiny fingers, tiny toes, feet so small you want to take them gently into your mouth, big navy blue eyes looking up at me. I will miss the tiny growsuits, the weeny nappies, and the hungry little mouth fixed on my breast And the milky sleepy smiling that comes after feeding. I will make a choice that forever limits my experience of pregnancy and birth to what I have already experienced and, to be honest, not all of what I experienced was good. I know its foolish to think such things but I still have the urge to ‘make it right’ – to have the birth that I so wanted for Lily, rather than the shock of the birth that we had. I know that these things cannot be mapped out. I am living proof of that. Yet, the yearning remains.

I remember when I had my termination all those years ago. I felt such loss and such a sense of yearning. I knew that I had begun a journey that my body longed to finish. I had started to call into being my mothering self and then had to abandon her because of the restrictions and difficulties of the time. I remember that body ache so well and I feel it now. The unfinished, unwritten chapters of my life are tugging at my hand and at my heart. Sometimes I think that I can feel also, the little being that still wants me, despite my failings, to bring him into being. I feel him with something other than my normal senses or awareness. He is waiting to see which way the dice will fall for him. And I don’t honestly know.

How is that you can shed tears for what is not yet in being? How is it that I can feel such sadness, such loss for things I shall never experience if I make the decision I am contemplating? Perhaps I have simply filled my head with too many ‘perfect birth’ scenarios, watched too many beautiful DVD’s about what birth could be like, if only we trusted ourselves enough. Maybe I have simply attached myself to this outcome too deeply and now that the time has come to pull out the hook, I am finding it painful.

And so. And so I sit here thinking impossibly difficult thoughts and asking myself impossibly difficult questions, (just for a change). Allowing myself the space to sit with it. Allowing the possibility that ‘this is it for me’ to be a fact and see how that feels. (Still sad). I know I don’t have to make a definitive decision tonight. But I do have to make a decision soon because neither my apparently absconding ovum nor me have the luxury of too much time. Most especially with our current fertility challenges to overcome. The question of course is, can I cope with the results of my decision either way? With second child or without second child, my life is difficult. The question becomes then, would it be more unbearably difficult with an additional child to manage? Would the joys of motherhood be overshadowed by the struggles? Would the PND fairy give up her rental and just move in? Am I simply giving in to the drama of it all and, on some bizarre level, enjoying the misery and all attention that struggling brings? I’m almost certain there is an element of that in there. I’m not saying that I’m enjoying my current difficulties but there is something in me that knows and loves drama. I come from a family of drama queens and I think that sometimes I don’t know how to live a peaceful, non-adrenalised life. I think that this little glitch in my programming leads to horrible incidents like last night, where we were nearly in a very bad car accident because I got stuck on the wrong side of the road with a car coming towards me that wasn’t slowing down. That was pretty dramatic. And I was the one that put us in that situation, albeit accidentally. I mean, what better metaphor for my internal life right now than a head on collision!

I jest. Well mostly anyway. I am just curious about myself in these places. I have been practicing mindfulness recently, (mainly in the car when I feel like I’m about to lose it with beanie), and keeping a questioning mind about my life. It’s sometimes liberating to think that I won’t have to do the whole toddler thing again or the severe sleep deprivation thing. But then I look in my cupboard at the tiny socks and shoes and run my hands over the tiny soft baby clothes, or I hold a newborn and feel that soft heaviness in my arms and that wonderful newborn smell, and I am lost. That mothering ache begins in my womb and I am full of sighs and deep longings once again.

What complex creatures we women are. How full of wanting. How full of light and warmth and life. And yet, how easily we walk with darkness. How calmly we hold hands with the devils of our own unexpressed longing. How willingly we sacrifice ourselves and quietly mourn the death of our wild gypsy selves.

Yes. To Be or Not To Be – that really is the question.
But what will be the answer?