These Little Earthquakes

I am here because I don’t know where else to be. Today was a Bad Day. The anger was so close to the surface, the frustration and the impatience all mixed with an incredible lack of grace. A resentment that yet again my time, my space, my soul are all sacrificed to the good of the child. I feel greedy and grasping and want only to escape the (seemingly fraudulent) needs of my demanding little girl. Add to this the many and continuous frustrations with the internet, its temperamental speeds and connection issues which anger me instantly because they have gone on for so long. The strangeness of my new Mac has also fed the furies today. I am such a novice and have no skill with it and that too has been a source of frustration. And don’t even get me started on the reasons why it won’t upload any of my photos or even show most of the pages properly. I am at a loss to explain any of it.

And so, like the earth tremors we have been experiencing recently, these little earthquakes shake me once again. My angry outbursts are, as always, quickly followed by remorse and a gnawing, aching guilt. Today the tears got the better of me. I never know whether to hide my tears from my daughter lest she grow up thinking that she needs to parent her flaky, neurotic mother or whether its ok to let a child know that you are sad and that its ok to cry when you are sad. In the end I went for the latter and explained that mummy was sad but not because of her. She was soothing and empathetic, as only she can be and eventually after much “It’s orrite mummy,” and “You thad?” she suggested that we ‘hold hands’. Well that nearly ended me. Smiling through the tears I suggested that this would be a good remedy for nearly all of my ills and that she suggest it next time mummy goes off on one.

Sadly this wonderful, warm and touching moment was soon followed by more anger, more tears and more frustration as my curious little muppet refused to do as she was bidden, refused to listen and became increasingly difficult to handle.

I stood at the sink entirely enveloped in a feeling of hopelessness and cried. I do not allow myself to cry often, I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because I am embarrassed to be so often this overwhelmed, to feel so powerless to change, to improve what is becoming an intolerable situation for me. The endless conflicts with my two year old cause me great pain at the moment. Mainly because I seem incapable of finding some better way to deal with them. To deal with myself. I cried because it seems that no matter how often I ask for help, it is never given or at least not in a way that I can understand and which is therefore as good as invisible to me. My fear of damaging her tender spirit is a daily shroud. I am terrified that there will come a point when her eyes will dull and she will simply stop reaching out to her emotionally unstable mother and give up, withdraw and leave me heartbroken and bereft. And yet I can see no other outcome if this situation continues. I don’t know what to do. And I can very clearly see that I need to do something to shift things.

I had hoped that the St John’s Wort would help me level out enough to find a clear space to stand in and walk forward from. It appears that this is not to be. Maybe what ails me is not curable by external means. I feel increasingly fragile and unsure of myself. I have never hated myself before. I have hated aspects of my life and my experiences, but never myself. Never like this. I hate myself as a mother and I try not to because I know that the cure does not lie in the misery and the doubt, but in hope of a change. I know too that without focusing on the positives in the situation, I will never truly break free of this horrible emotional and mental affliction that seems to have welded itself to my skin and to my heart. This is not me. At least, I hope to God that it is not me. I am so unhappy. I find myself cursing my life and though I know that it is born of frustration, it does not mean that it is not how I feel on some level. I have counted my blessings, I am more than aware of how much I have to be grateful for and yet there are days when sinking into the ground and disappearing are all I wish for. How can I deserve to be the mother of this beautiful child? Why can I not see a way forward? I am not stupid. I don’t even know how to talk about everything that I feel because I feel that I am letting down those people who rely on me to get my shit together. I am embarrassed to be this down, this incapable of self-mastery and this miserable when all around me is real suffering, real misery. It doesn’t feel right somehow to cry when I have so little to really cry about. I have just finished reading a book called Sorrow Mountain about a Tibetan Warrior Nun who suffered so much at the hands of the Chinese. Next to that, what are my little struggles, my minor sufferings?

I am going to miss the best years of her life if I can’t get myself out of this rut. I know it. And I fear it greatly. Why should she suffer because of me?

I thought about calling friends to talk but didn’t. Most of my friends have more than enough on their plate without me adding to their load. I don’t want to tax anyone else’s adrenals. A friend actually interrupted my crying earlier but I am no good at reaching out. She called at the wrong (right?) time but I felt incapable of talking. What else can I say anyway? What can I say that I have not already expressed a thousand times and more? I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to write about it in my own blog for fear of boring the shit out of you yet again with the same old same old. I did because at the end of the day, it is where I am and I cannot move on without accepting that. It’s my day off tomorrow and apart from a trip to the vets with the cat, I am alone. I know that I will miss her as I always do when we are apart, fearing that we will be forever parted because I do not deserve her and that my last memories of her will be these. I know it sounds stupid but it happens every time. Every time something good comes into my life, I feel as if I am waiting for it to be taken away again. She is the best thing to come out of my life and the most ferociously challenging. I tear myself apart as I try to come to terms with a life so altered, so drastically and forever changed by her. I try to let go and accept and become that which I am now that I have her. But I cannot. I am stretched between my own need to create something of my life, to achieve, to live my music and not die with it still in me and my own inner knowing that she is something wonderful that my life has created and that maybe I should give up any other dreams and accept that. Maybe there is simply a time for mothering unencumbered by loftier missions. Maybe there is only today and today and today and looking into the future simply brings misery. So why then is my spirit still restlessly searching for something intangible, something that hangs just out of reach but releases its perfume into the air every time I walk by it? Why am I so tantalized and so unfulfilled?

I don’t have any answers. I don’t even know where to look for answers. Or maybe I’m simply not asking the right questions. Who the fuck knows.

So I wait for the earth to steady beneath me once again. I wait for the tremors to stop and the earthquakes to subside. I wait for that gentle touch of grace that can take me home again. Home to myself. Pray that it happens soon.

May your caravan be pitched on solid ground.
May all beings be at peace.


These Schizophrenic Days

I want to begin my blog today with a long loud *SIGH*. It has been a good, bad, up, down, laughing, shouting, frustrating and funny sort of a day and I have enjoyed it and hated in equal measure and often within seconds of each other.

I don’t know why I find the whole mothering thing so hard some days but I do. There are days when I could just curl up inside the fridge vegetable crisper just to get a few precious minutes to myself – to rest, recuperate, rejuvenate and find the strength to just get up and carry on. Beanie is not a difficult child, not really. Like most kids she becomes her most destructive and her most challenging when she feels she has to compete for my attention with anything – a phone call, the toaster (being used, I might add, to make her favourite snack, raisin toast!), my husband, the tv – whatever. These are the times that all her shoes come out of the cupboard and get thrown around her room, the DVD’s are unpacked from the cabinet, the TV gets switched off, then on, then off, then on – all to an endless chant of ‘No Lily!’ by an increasing frustrated mummy-bear. Today I went from smiling and chatting with her to snarling like a rabid wolverine because she asked me for ‘nana’ and when I gave it to her, she poked her fingers through it and then flung it onto the kitchen floor (which is so dirty that it makes me tired just thinking about cleaning it). She spent the afternoon whining and crying every time I moved into another room and wanted to be carried everywhere. She refused to eat the lovely pumpkin and goat cheese risotto I cooked for her and screamed when I tried to put her into her baby-seat to eat her freshly made toast – so, I decided to put her in the bath. Ohhhhhhh. Let’s just say that the carpet will be wet for a month and she was hyper by the end of it.

However, I suspect that she was just overtired having missed her afternoon nap (because she refused to go to sleep despite 6 books and lots of encouragement from an eager to nap mamma) and so after her usual ritual of hair-drying, pj struggling and 3 books, she requested ‘boobie’ (which was refused as I am both sore and trying to wean her), had a cry when I refused and then dropped to sleep in about 10 minutes. Normally it takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to get the child to go to sleep and this is with either myself or my husband in the bed with her. Attachment parenting is so labour intensive and yet I love the idea of raising a well-adjusted, secure baby. The only problem is that I find myself shouting at her and calling her a ‘stupid girl’ (to be fair, she was hanging off the 600 different computer leads under my desk and I was terrified she’d be electrocuted) or something equally reprehensible and it makes me wonder if I shouldn’t just abandon the whole ‘attachment parenting’ style in favour of something that has me just popping her in a cot to go to sleep on her own in her own time. It seems to be a case of maintaining my sanity whilst still creating a nurturing child environment and on some days the two just don’t gel. Days like these.

I sometimes hate myself as a mother. This is not too harsh a statement. It’s the Gods honest truth. I sometimes say and do things to my child that I absolutely hate myself for and I then become crippled with a guilt that eats away at me like a slow-burning cancer. I have talked about how hard the first year of mothering has been for me before but I have to admit that it hasn’t really gotten much easier. I still feel regularly overwhelmed with the difficulty of raising my child when I can’t seem to control my temper or my tongue. I know that part of the problem is that I’m trying to be a ‘perfect’ mummy. I know this and yet i still can’t seem to let myself off the hook. I guess I feel that my mistakes are crimes against childhood and that I should get life in the prison of guilt. It sounds dramatic doesn’t it? That’s bloody actors for you. Not to mention writers. Always the drama, drama, drama. Yet I feel that I deserve all the shit I give myself because I have yet to go a whole two days without some kind of ugly explosion and it shames me. There are days when I feel I could literally strangle my child and yet I could not love her more. My heart aches with the love that I have for her and I would give up my life to keep her safe. How then is it that I still fall so often into these old patterns created in my own childhood? How is that I have still not learned the art of self-control? How is it that I cannot protect my child from myself? From my weaknesses and my failings.

It took me 16-months to realise that I might be suffering from post-natal depression (and that was an amateur diagnosis by a stranger) and I have still not really accepted that this might be really, actually, true for me. I hate the idea that I might be a ‘depressive’ person despite the fact that many of my closest (and most loved) friends have visited this dark and torturous place called depression from time to time. I have always prided myself on my ability to ‘cope’ – just like all the women in my family. We shrug and get on with it because that’s what needs to happen. The fiery Celtic spirit that resides within this woman is both my truest nature and my fiercest critic. We Celts don’t rest until the work is done and we never ask for help. We are kindness itself to strangers but would run ourselves through with a broadsword for any minor fault or flaw. It’s tiring. I am tired. I am sad. I am at war with myself again because I have not lived up to the (ridiculous) standards of parenting that I have set for myself and which I still manage to find time to write testily about. See – nice, normal, schizophrenic mamma in action.

What I hate is the feeling that tomorrow I will still not know how to do it any better than I did today because this is who I am right now. This is all I am capable of right now. This is the ‘what is’ as they say in Buddhism and to fight the now, the what is, is to be unavailable to the present moment which is the only moment in which I can effect change. That’s the double edged sword of it all. I have to be at peace with my failure and allow it to sit within me like a big black duck quacking maniacally (not sure about that image!) and just be with it. Did I mention that I have a little difficulty with surrendering? Well that means surrendering to this feeling of failure and despondency. It means letting the tears come and trying not to be ashamed of myself and my mothering. It means letting the light into the darkness by not shutting myself in or down but by simply allowing it all to just be.

And I don’t want to.

I don’t like it.