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.


Nourish Me:: Week Ten:: Putting Myself First

I found this beautiful artwork here

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. I had lots of different nourishing things I wanted to talk about and to share with you. I have been busy doing all sorts of things and thought I could write about some of those but then I realised that I had been putting this subject off. *Sigh*

It’s really hard for me to write about attachment parenting without coming up against all of my wants and needs and hopes and dreams for my children. It’s hard for me to contemplate letting some of my hopes go but it’s harder still to be here struggling, as I so often do, to do the right thing, but ever at my own expense. Does that sound selfish? Then I’ll explain.

Right now, I am sitting in my bed at home choking my way through my fifth bout of bronchitis since last Winter. I have asthma so bad that I can’t take an in or an out breath without rattling which leads to more coughing, coughing so hard it makes me gag. Coughing so hard I can’t sleep. And so finally, at my husband’s insistence, I started taking the cortisone that I have resisted taking in all the other episodes I’ve enjoyed. I started taking the damn cortisone because antibiotics were having no effect. I started taking them even though it meant abruptly interrupting my breastfeeding relationship with my wee Bear. It was not an easy decision to make but I hope that it was the right one.

The house is empty. As in, without the balls of funny, furiously active and beloved energy that are my babes. It is empty because I am worn out, completely run down (despite vitamin supplements and immunity tonics up the yin yang) and struggling to look after my babes with no voice (literally – I have laryngitis too), no energy and no patience . So my ever practical husband called in the reinforcements and his parents stepped up (as they always do – I am amazingly lucky to have the second family that I do) and the wee ones were whisked away to stay with his mum and dad for three, yes THREE, days. So that I can sleep, rest, get well, stop spreading these godawful germs around and find health, if it indeed still resides in this house of lurgy.

My little Finnamon Bun

The children and I have been consistently sick for a year now – since Finn was 2 weeks old and he got his first cold, followed swiftly by his first chest infection and his first dose of antibiotics. As each cold/infection/chesty episode went, within a week a new one was arriving. The children and I have spent more time at the doctors this year than I have at any other time in my life. I even joked to my GP that I should just camp out in his waiting room. Har bloody har.

So the house is empty and it feels… well barren actually. Devoid of life and energy. I can feel how alone I am in this big house that is normally so warm and full of them. I miss them terribly, particularly my wee bear because I keep feeling like he is so small and must not understand what is going on. Part of it is, of course, my ever present anxiety/PND/neuroses, but the other part is the loss of my connection to my babies. No little greedy face smiling up at me between drinks from his beloved boobie. No needs having to be met. No-one trotting in in the night for ‘a quick snuggle’ before being tucked back into her own bed. No sleepy, pink-cheeked, grumpy little face surrounded by fluffy bedhair, crying softly with eyes still closed, for cuddles, comfort and a return to sleep. Nothing. Just me and my man (even though that is always comforting) and the quiet of an empty house. And in the night I dreamt that I could hear Beanie calling out for me. “Mamma, mamma, no – I want mamma.” I woke thinking that she was in the next room and was then stricken because I realised she was far away and I could not comfort her. Could not fold my tousled, long limbed, thumb-sucking, still so young, Beanie, into my arms and give her a mamma’s sleepy late night kisses that let her know all is well. All is well.

Yes, she is asleep.

This is why I struggle. I struggle with the need to sometimes put myself and my needs first without feeling horrible guilt. I struggle with being with my kids and being without them. I struggle with wanting needing space and time and rest, and feeling resentful when I don’t get it, the need to be there for my children when they need me to. Something has to give, doesn’t it? And I’ve come to the, somewhat obvious, conclusion that it just doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. Someone occasionally has to lose, if only for a little while, and up until now that has been me. I have consistently put myself second and have dragged myself through the days bone weary and tired beyond belief. I have done it when I have wanted to and when I would have given anything to be in a galaxy far, far away. And it has taken it’s toll on me mentally and physically.

And this is where I find attachment parenting a little unyielding (and I am prepared to admit that the unyielding part may be just my interpretation of its ethos. I do set my own parenting bar very high). The co-sleeping I love right up until the part where I can’t turn over because I have about a square inch of bed to myself and nowhere to put my arms, or I’m getting kicked in the back or boobs, or hit in the face by small arms and legs. Or, God forbid, there is a delicious warm sensation underneath me which suddenly and inexplicably goes cold and wet. The breastfeeding I love except where I get bitten and pinched and where I worry that I am going to affect Bear’s health long term by giving him boobie milk tainted, no matter how minimally, with anti-depressants or the fact that he needs to stay attached to the boobie long, long, long after he has fallen asleep and immediately wakes up if I try to disconnect him. The carrying I love (and do a lot of ) right up to the part where my scoliosis plays up and the hip displacement joins in, just for funsies. The gentle discipline I love right up until the part where I want to tear my hair out and scream because trying to get my girl to do ANYTHING without a major meltdown is seemingly impossible, to the point where even my hubble is losing his cool and this man is second only to the Dalai Lama in terms of being peace. I love it all right up until the part where I am worn out, run down and in need of sleep and rest and peace.

Photo by eikei

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend to give any of these things up entirely. I love carrying the wee man for the most part. I love having him in bed with me and have done up until recently when I realised how much I missed being able to stretch out and not worry about accidentally walloping the wee man in the head. I sleep so lightly that its become almost impossible to have the bubs in the bed for any length of time. And you know, I want to be able to put him down in his cot and have fall into a much needed sleep, without me having to stand over him for 45 minutes. And I’ve noticed something interesting about this. Sometimes he’ll be in my bed and restless, grizzling and turning over and over, so I scoop him up, pop him down in his cot and he goes straight to sleep. Perhaps even he needs a little space to himself now.

I guess what I’m trying to say, and what it has taken me over 4.5 years to learn, is that I have to take what works for me and leave the rest. Even if that does make me feel like a ‘fake’ attachment parent (and honestly, what parent isn’t attached to their child?). I have to accept that in order to give them the best of me, I need to put myself and my needs first when I can. Mamma needs her body, her mind, her sleep, to herself sometimes. I need to trust that I am enough even in those areas I fail seemingly every day. Who gets it totally right? Even attachment parents who do everything by the book get things wrong. We are fallible human beings and it has taken me a lot of time and sadness to realise this. I won’t be the ‘perfect’ mamma no matter how hard I try. I can only be me – a woman who stumbles and falls all the time, but still gets back up and tries again, tries harder. I have spent a lot of time wanting to be other people. It’s probably why I studied acting. Yet, comparing myself to others never made me feel any better about being myself. It just gave me a whole other box of reasons to dislike myself and to question hate myself as a parent. I do want to get my issues under control. Of course i do. But I want to do without beating myself up all the time. I DO hold myself accountable. I DO take responsibility for myself and my actions but I don’t need to exacerbate the problem with unkindness and a lack of compassion for myself. In some ways, I am still a child too. I need to put aside the fear based thoughts of what will become of my children in the future because what I have ‘done to them’ in the past, and trust, really trust, that their innate goodness, their own unique light, will shine no matter what. And that loving them, as deeply and as overwhelmingly as I do, will be enough. That I will be enough.

So my nest is empty and I am trying to drop into this new space and take care of myself without my thoughts consistently swinging towards my Beanie and Bear, wondering how they are, if they want to come home, if they are needing me… and concentrate on getting well. I’m not used to it. Normally I relish my time alone simply because it is so fleeting. Now I have three days of it and I don’t know what to do with myself. My hubble insists that I sleep. He has told me, in no uncertain terms, that ‘resting is not the same as sleeping’. I guess he doesn’t get how restful crafting is for me but he’s also got a point. Sleep is the one thing that has been consistently missing from my life for 4.5 years. Nourishing, deep, deep, restorative, dreamless sleep. Is that possible for me I wonder? I am so attuned to my babies sleep rhythms that I suspect that this kind of sleep may still elude me.

In my immediate future I forsee lots of expressing (not quite ready to give up feeding the wee boy yet, just while I am on nasty cortisone), knitting, sewing, napping, eating maltesers, reading, napping, watching movies, napping and then some of the aforementioned sleep.

I will leave with my sweet nourishy bites because everyone needs something cheerful at the end of a long rant.

:: watching :: Game of Thrones. If you haven’t, you must. MUST.

:: loving :: crafts, crafts, crafts. Oh I have discovered dry needle felting and I cannot be stopped! Show and tell next post.

:: longing for:: this illness to be gone and to feel truly well again. Punching the air and leaping into the air kind of well.

:: looking forward to :: being rid of the old man 60-a-day phlegmy smokers cough, to finishing Finn’s sheepy pants and starting on my ‘Tea Leaves’ cardigans for me and the Beanster (thanks DocWitchy!). Oh and starting on a little project for my lovely lady Sol-Y-Luna – she of the big heart and healing hands. She gave me a massage and now I am giving her something soft and warm and knitted, just for her own self.
:: heading towards :: adventure. Maine being the focus of that adventure. We are seriously looking into moving to Maine for a few years, just so that I can enjoy some snow and some time in the Northern Hemisphere, where everything makes sense to this northern girl again.

:: enjoying :: the cold, the mist, the bare trees, the occasional hail, the spare simplicity of Winter in the southern hemisphere. Audio books – fiction mainly because I have overdosed on non-fiction in recent years. It feels good to just sit back and enjoy a different kind of yarn (often with my yarn!). My creativity being stimulated by the lovely Goddess Leonie‘s e-courses and Goddess circle group. Don’t be put off by the hippy look of the site, the woman is sharp as a tack and gives an amazing package for those creative ladies who want to delve further into their creativity or start up a new business. There is even a Goddess Circle which gives you access to support from other women and a chance to make connections. It’s awesomeness. Chai, mocca lattes, Kate Bush and her wonderful album The Hounds of Love. Now that’s winter in an album. The link takes you to my absolute favourite track from the album. Listen to it and you’ll understand why I love it so much.

::making:: more wool roving summer fairies but this time with embellishments (piccies to come), sewing little birds for summer swaps, winter things for winter swaps and the beginnings of a daily rhythm chart for Lily, so she has some idea of what is happening next. It makes our days more peaceful if we have our path illuminated somewhat.

:: surprising myself ::  not at all.

:: feeling :: weak and tired but at least I’m resting.

:: hoping for :: good health, energy and some time with good friends.

:: grateful for :: my supportive hubble and his amazing family.

And I’ve added a new nourishy bite – 

:: just for funsies :: Funniest video on YouTube – I’m afraid that this is why people of the pagan persuasion are not often taken seriously. And where are they running to?

Nourish Me:: Week Seven – Moment by Moment

Natural Beauty

Ah, here I am again. There hasn’t been any one big thing nourishing this parched soul this week. It has again come in small yummy bites and I think it has been all the more delicious and absorbable (is that a word?) for that. 

I noticed that I kept thinking to myself that I should have something more, I dunno, weighty maybe, to write about and I kept searching for the big thunderclap of nourishment to appear. Yet there wasn’t one. Maybe there won’t always be. It’s funny, putting myself under pressure to produce something interesting to read and trying to find something important to write about, is so not what this whole series of posts is about. I think this is what these bite sized pieces of goodness have been teaching me. That it’s ok to find our pleasures in small things. A five minute knitting break, a ten minute sit down with a good cuppa, a few seconds of deep breathing and steadying. It all adds up to so much more.

And so, I will once more share my sweet nourishy bites with you.

:: watching :: The trees starting to change colour as Autumn takes delicate hold around me; hilarious new US TV series ‘The Modern Family’ – pure genius; fantastic new US TV series ‘Boardwalk Empire’ about prohibition – very engaging; and of course True Blood – Series Three – again – so good!

:: loving :: my daughters new school (and it’s not even Waldorf!) – can’t believe my little Beanie will be at school next February – how fast the time goes!; the decadent delights of Connoisseur caramel, honey and macadamia nut ice cream..uh oh.

Autumn Nature Table 

:: longing :: for a massage. Oh dear God let it be soon; enough hours in the day to read all the wonderful books piling up on my struggling bedside shelves – God bless our local library for it soeth rocketh; some quality sleep – you know, for more than an hour at a time; 

:: looking forward to :: I’ll say it again – Winter days at the beach; mulled wine; hot chocolate; open fires. Especially since I finally got my new order of organic hot chocolate mix. Best hot chocolate EVER! Oh and so excited about our forthcoming family photo shoot with the talented and lovely Lausie of Warmth and Light Photography. Any time with Laura is wonderful and I get the added bonus of some wall worthy photographs of our whole family at one time! 
:: heading towards :: Easter and some quality time with my man; the installing of our brand new, thrifted, $20 toilet; a little painting; my new online writing course (starts tomorrow!). It’s called ‘Writing Our Way Home’ and you can find out all about it here.
:: enjoying :: just looking at all the books on my shelves and dreaming about the wisdom they hold and some time to read them; the last of the summer strawberries and raspberries before the season finishes; evening walks with my hubble and the kidlets – one in a backpack and the other on a thrifted $2 scooter. I don’t know what I love more, the scooter or the fact that is was only $2!; the few moments in bed I get before the small and smaller squirmy people invade; finally sending off some of my craft swaps (very satisfying);

Easter Bunnies & The Bluebirds of Happiness

::making:: cute little peg people for my two Easter swaps. The little guys above are going to a new home through the Four Seasons craft exchange. The bluebirds were inspired by the lovely lady at We Bloom Here. Check out her gorgeous crafty blog. Whereas these little guys
Little Flower Children still sleeping in their leafy winter beds.

are going to someone lovely from the Bits of Goodness Easter Swap. This group does regular swaps on different themes, the last one was gardens. If you’re feeling crafty, I recommend this group because they swap often and they are so creative. These babies were inspired by the wonderful Twig and Toadstool. Another absolute gem of creativity.

Ready for her close up.
:: surprising myself with :: how much I don’t seem to care about what I eat. Bad Kitty, smack paws!; how much I enjoy handwork and all things crafty – still not bored with it even though I’m still not that good at it!

:: feeling :: up and down. Had some seriously ‘bad mommy’ moments this past week, followed by some much better, much happier days. But that guilt is a killer.

:: hoping :: for my mums parcels to arrive from the UK; my new books to arrive; some time to rearrange the laundry and all of our craft stuff; that my course will help me to connect with myself more deeply.
Hoot and Little Red – for Beanie

:: grateful for :: moments of peace in my daily life; moments of grace in my emotional life; you guys.

Bugs & Dirty Little Fingers = Happiness

What you all been up to? Are you bounding into Spring or slowing into Autumn? What’s been nourishing you this week?

The Good Witch of the Green Woods


Nothing Compares To You

Wonderful (but just the tiniest bit tiring?)

Reading through other people’s blogs gives me inspiration. I love the colour, the thoughtfulness, the raw edges exposed. One of the reasons I trained to be an actor was because I wanted to live all those other lives. Lives that were not open to me, that I would not choose or that I would. Lives that I admired and despised. And so it is with blogging. I visit, I enjoy, I swoon, I covet, I crave, I am inspired. And yet. Sometimes the very blogs that give me the most pleasure are the ones that can make me feel the guiltiest. Strange really. How something that can give you joy can make you feel bad about yourself.

Paint my skin with the poetry of truth.

I realise that for me it is in comparison that the folly lies. I compare my life to the (seemingly ideal) lives of women who, to me at least, are doing it ‘right’. The women who grow their own veggies, make their own clothes, knit with love, clean their houses naturally, recycle, reuse, repurpose. All things I do or aspire to do, with varying degrees of success. Our veggie garden being one of my failures this year. Most of what we planted didn’t grow and I didn’t have the energy to give it sufficient attention. See, I WANT to be someone who loves gardening but I’m not. It’s just one more thing to do. One more responsibility in a life that already feels over full. I WANT to be a grounded, down to earth mamma with nothing more pressing in my life than raising beautiful, happy children. Sometimes I can feel myself getting closer to that ideal but then my Rooster self pops up with a ‘What about me?’ and I slip into resentment and yes, guilt. It seems I can never convince myself that I am enough. I know myself only in the failures of my mothering journey. Never in the successes. It is a slippery slope of wanting to be more than I am and never quite getting there.

Comparing myself to these wonderful women is not inspiring. It is depressing quite frankly. I love the lives they lead. The quiet purposefulness of their approach to living and loving. I love their brilliant creativity, their beautiful prose, their still souls. Yet. I am unlike them. My soul burns with this restless fire. I long to create but when I do get the time, I waste it with seemingly important tasks which do not feed this creative fire. I am permanently dissatisfied. I have so much gratitude for the life I live and the people in it, yet it never seems ‘enough’. I am part of the universal malaise that is a constant craving for ‘more’. More what exactly? In lives that seem simpler, more profound with less – what is there to want, to need, to buy? And yet, there it is. In all it’s shameful glory. This ache within me that wants more. More recognition, more time to myself, more time to create, more skill, more patience (oh yes please God – more of that), more wisdom, more stillness, more life, more passion, more money, more freedom, more space, more, more, more. I am never satisfied with what I have. Worse – with who I am.

I am an open book, in want of a reader.

I try. I do. I have come to this place time and again. I know myself to be a Rooster. A bossy, loud, disorganised, funny, colourful, lazy, impatient, sarcastic, know-it-all Rooster. But I want to be a swan. A glidy, quiet, silken, peaceful, compassionate, patient swan. Why? I crave peace. I crave silence. But when you go into the silence – hoo lordy – the noise that emerges could deafen you from 20 years away. And I ping pong back to reality and lose myself there with a million excuses so that I don’t have to truly sit with any of it. And so, instead of ‘doing’ well, anything actually, I lurk around other people’s blogs like some creepy cyber-stalker with one hand down my pants, and dream of being someone who home-schools their progeny, cans their own produce, eats well and takes fantastic photographs. Someone who exercises and loves it. Someone who loves their kids and never gets frustrated with them or swears bilingually at them. Someone who is splendid in her mothering and spectacular in herself.

Coming up for air.

But that’s not me.

This is me:

  1. Overweight but too feckin’ tired to do anything about it.
  2. Eats badly and craves too much salt, sugar and chocolate. And I’ll admit it. I LOVE McDonalds. I do. I hate the business but love the food. Please don’t hate me. 
  3. Is frequently impatient and grumpy with her beloved children and hubble. 
  4. Whinges frequently. (Well, I am British).
  5. Is never satisfied because the grass is always greener…
  6. Spends too much money (even though it’s on charity shop buys and books).
  7. Says ‘fuck’ a lot. A real lot. With ‘bollocks’ inexplicably making a reappearance recently. (I do like that word though. It’s satisfying in the mouth – if you’ll excuse the horrible double entendre).
  8. Is driven crazy by her willful, beautiful, funny but seriously stubborn and feisty daughter. She  make me want to tear my hear out, cry and laugh all at the same time. Every. Day.
  9. Has a terrible, unseemly obsession with books. Library books, second hand books and new books. It’s an addiction. Relentless Book Sluttery. I buy them and then they sit on my shelves unread. I currently have over 65 library checkouts (though some of them are for my girl). I think I have OCD.
  10. Am chronically sleep deprived yet often sit up until 1 or 2am being aforementioned online stalker of superior blogs.
  11. Hates cooking and is frequently found slumped in front of pantry bulging with ‘stuff’ unable to come up with any kind of creative combination that is edible. That hasn’t stopped me buying beautiful ‘wholefood’ cooking books obviously.
  12. Loves the cloth nappy idea (and my gorgeous colourful itti’s) but detests scraping retch inducing poop off nappies, before putting them in the washer, (over and over again), until the stains come off. The smell of ammonia is unbelievable and it is not water friendly in our drought ridden state.
  13. Loves plants. Loves the idea of homesteading. Hates gardening. 
  14. Loves to write but just doesn’t.
  15. Has grand dreams and ambitions (and is often jealous of other people’s successes even though she is glad for them) but does buggar all about them.
  16. Is a good friend most of the time but doesn’t seem to have that gene that disposes one to be really thoughtful. I wish I did. I think of things after the fact and then am sad that I didn’t do more.
  17. Is often creatively inspired and excited about some new idea or project, but then gets bored or discouraged if its too hard or if I can’t ‘get it’ immediately.
  18. Is lazy.
  19. Irreverent.
  20. Judgmental.
  21. Loves her bed more than her husband and children. Almost.
  22. Let’s her girl watch too many movies in an effort to have a moment to herself. (Or to sneak a nap with the wee bear).
  23. Is guilty of setting the bar way too high for herself in just about every area of life.
  24. Doesn’t know how to adjust bar.
  25. Hates reading manuals. To anything. But has more parenting books that Barnes & Noble, Angus & Robertson and Waterstones combined.

The Naked Truth

However, this is also me:

  1. Funny.
  2. Excitable.
  3. Fun (at least, I used to be).
  4. Loves Nature and yes, that now includes camping. Who knew?
  5. Loves books.
  6. Loves poetry, literature and writing – even if she doesn’t have time for any of them.
  7. Loves her man and her babies. A lot. A very lot. An inescapably, frighteningly, overwhelmingly lot.
  8. Hates letting people down.
  9. Gives generously when the mood strikes.
  10. Loves op shops (thrifting) and would throw them down by the fire and make sweet love to them if they were people.
  11. Is eclectic and let’s face it, a wee bit eccentric.
  12. Is passionate about many things but mostly about being a good mamma.
  13. Is very creative. Even if what I make is shit by my own standards.
  14. Talks a lot but is learning to listen well.
  15. Occasionally takes great photos.
  16. Loves craft of any type.
  17. Is deeply spiritual but lazy.
  18. Always has the best of intentions but frequently falls short in their execution.
  19. Is soft hearted, kind natured and compassionate.
  20. Cries easily and often.
  21. Is dramatic.
  22. Is very adaptable and quick to pick up new things.
  23. Isn’t afraid to try new things.
  24. Is charismatic, charming and engaging.
  25. Is inspiring.
  26. Is brave. Often. Because life often scares me.
  27. Tries really, really, REALLY hard.

So – there you have it. The truth in all its gory or glory depending on your perspective. I know that there is a way to find the balance and to not be so hard on myself all the damn time. I am not saying I know what that answer is but at least I’m searching for it. I’m trying. Even if some schools of thought think that trying is wrong.

The Doors of Perception

I am calmed by the sea. The flow of the water reminds me to breathe in and breathe out. And that really, that’s all there is. Breathing, watching, walking, eating, loving, sharing, talking, listening, reading, hoping, wondering – it’s all just one long extension of the whole breathing thing. And so I lurk and I read and I compare and I feel sad and then I remind myself that this is not all that I am. I am also the second list and that I have parenting wins sometimes. I remind myself that no-one could ever say I didn’t try. I know that my roosterness will come in handy one day, I just don’t know how yet. And I promise myself to spend less time looking through rose tinted glasses at other people’s lives and spend more time living mine. Imperfect as it is.

So there.

Now that’s more like it.

All photos courtesy of Bohemian Shoebox 
Please go there to see where the originals came from. Thanks.

Medicating Mamma

I suppose it’s been coming for a long while. I resisted and resisted and resisted but finally the day came when I simply held up my hands and said “Ok. I’ll try it. I’ve tried everything else and nothing is changing. Maybe this will help.” And so here I am. One week into taking SSRI’s to control that nasty PND Fairy who has made another appearance. In some ways I’m honestly glad. The decision has been made and while it was agonising making it, it is less so in its execution. I get up, I take a tablet, I feel better. That’s it really. The hardest part was trying to figure out what was worse. Psychologically damaging my kids with the rampant anger that I can’t seem to figure out OR potentially psychologically (or physically) damaging my boy by taking the anti-depressants (a small amount of which comes through the breastmilk).  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the long term effects of this decision on my rapidly developing wee boy. It worries me. Truly. I just don’t think that the kind of mother I was rapidly becoming – one that lit up like a flare at the slightest irritation and shouted more than she talked – was going to do him any good – and I worry all the time about how much damage my emotional rollercoaster ride has cost Lily. So this was the only reasonable decision to make. When your naturopath tells you there is nothing else for it, then I suppose you have to sit up and listen. I was on the strongest natural remedies there were and it wasn’t even touching the sides. Besides, I don’t want to miss the day-to-day joys of life with my kids and I don’t want to put any more stress on my marriage. I need to give my kids and my all too understanding husband a break from ‘cranky mommy’ and find my softer, funnier side again. She’s been missing for far too long.

Can I tell you a secret though? I feel weak. I do. (And this is in no way a judgement on anyone who is, like me, seeking mediation to cope with life). But I look at the life my mother led (with four kids not just two) and I look at the life my sister leads with 6 kids (4 adopted, two natural – one of whom has ADHD, ADD, Aspergers and is a high functioning Autistic) and I wonder why, with all the love and support I have (that they did not) that I am not coping better. I know people say not to compare yourself to others but it’s hard not to. These are the women of my family and I feel like I am letting them down. That I a letting myself down. I mean, I should be able to do this without medication, right? It’s just raising two children. I am privileged enough to not have to work and can be with them every day. They are wonderful, beautiful, funny kids and I adore them. Yet. I struggle. Why? I don’t know. I can blame my childhood sure but isn’t it up to us how much we let the past affect our future? I’m sure there is some deep seated resentments about mothering and whatnot but again, I chose this life. I am blessed to have two healthy, gorgeous babies to love and cherish, so why is it often so hard. The reason I decided to take the medication was because I found myself thinking that Beanie would just be better off without me. I felt for the first time that I just wanted to run away. I have NEVER felt that way before. Never. Admittedly, that day was a bad one but I took Finn and I got in the car and I truly was not sure I was ever coming back. I drove around the hills in the dark for over two hours and when I got back my hubby and my girl were waiting for me. Beanie wouldn’t go to sleep until I came home. And I felt ashamed of myself for wanting to leave her.

The guilt that comes with motherhood is immense for some of us. The fear that our mistakes will make permanent marks on our children’s childhood and lead to terrible emotional and psychological problems later on, is truly terrifying. The shame that comes with each mistake. The pain of knowing that you have made yet another scar on a little life. These are the things I can’t live with. I don’t want this to be my mothering legacy. I want to do it better. I want to see their faces light up when we play. I want to see them reach out to me for help or a hug or just because I’m there. I want them to know that their mother loves them and I want to show them that love by being here, by being fully present in the moment with them. I want to at least start to find the joy again because four years is a long time for it to be gone.

So far so good (if you ignore the nausea and the slightly squirrely tummy). It seems to be helping a little bit every day. I find myself not so anxious, not so irritated. Believe me when I say that this is a big improvement. I got through a whole week last week and barely shouted at all. Again- big change. Lily’s behaviour has improved. I’m not sure if that’s in response to me relaxing or because she’s finally coming out of the stubborn, rude, oppositional place she’s been residing in for the last year and a bit. It’s hard to know but it isn’t hard to appreciate the changes. Maybe I should have done this sooner. No doubt there will be guilt around that if I think too hard about it. I tried so hard to do it any other way but here I am. At least there is the possibility of change here right now and I’m very grateful for that. Maybe the lesson here is learning when to ask for help and know which help to take. All I can do is wait and see.

In reality, life moves along so unbelievably quickly and I don’t want to miss any more of it feeling bad. I mean look at them. Look at how much they have changed already. Blink and it’s gone. 

Lily’s fourth birthday party.

My gorgeous violet eyed Finn – 5 months (photo taken by Laura of Warmth and Light Photography). 

Me, tired but happy. As opposed to just tired.

So I guess this is where I am at right now. For better or worse this is the decision I have made. There is a lot of work ahead of me – inner as well as outer – but I ask only for a pause in my head between the spark and the flame – just long enough to blow it out before it consumes me.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Screams, Screeches and the Dark Road In-between

12th April 2007

I was just lying next to my sweetly sleeping plump cheeked little daughter watching her sleep and wondering how it is that she can sometimes make me want to throw her over next doors fence. Like most mothers I am aware that sometimes motherhood gets very overwhelming. All mother’s sometimes feel like they could throttle their beloved child when things get too much but as I lay watching her I realised how easy it would be for me to slip into the patterns of abuse that were used to control me when I was an child. That was a sobering and frightening thought.

The thought stemmed from one of those frustrating times in our relationship when Lily is tired but won’t sleep and I need to get something done in the office (when will I learn this is futile with a crotchety baby?) and so she starts to screech and screech and whine and I get more and more crabby until, today, I threw a small rubber at her. Now, don’t get me wrong – if the rubber had hit her it would have only shocked her for a moment, it certainly wouldn’t have hurt her but it’s the fact that I could do it at all that shocked me. In the moment that I threw it, I wanted it to hit her – just to shock her out of the godawful screeching she was in the middle of. I wanted, just for a moment, to shut her the fuck up using any means at my disposal. As soon as I’d thrown it I knew that I’d crossed a line. No matter how small or indistinct that line is I had crossed it by lobbing something at my child.

I then wrestled with her in bed for about 40-minutes until she finally fell asleep after some crying in my arms while I held her. The crying was not related to what I had done but was due to the fact that she was very tired and not able to let go. It was while she slept that I thought about how much I loved her. I always feel such tremendous guilt when I shout at her or finally lose my temper because she’s doing something (usually screeching) that shreds my last nerve. Today started out that way and dealing with that constant noise is no way to start a day. However, what struck me was that maybe this is how abuse starts in families. First comes the shouting at the noisy child, then comes the smacking, shaking or – in my case – the lobbing of the rubber. After that it all gets very dark indeed and I don’t even want to think about the other atrocities that are dealt a child.

The reason I thought about abuse at all is because of my abusive upbringing. My sister stayed with me recently and we were sharing stories about our respective upbringings (if you can call them that!). She shared some stories with me about my mum which were a little eye-opening – one involved her shaking me when I was screaming because of teething and Elaine genuinely feared for my life that day. Lily is teething. She was screeching before she ever got teeth but it stopped for a while and she babbled happily instead. I can easily cope with excessive loud babbling. The screeching is the trigger for me. Screeching and screaming. Maybe I respond in the way that I do because that’s somehow what I remember being done to me. I don’t have any specific memories of anything my mum may or may not have done to me when I was that small. Elaine’s memories are all I have to rely on in many ways and they are unreliable as they are the memories of a terrorised, angry and petrified adolescent who was made responsible for my life up until I was 4 years old. Too young to be a surrogate mum.

Anyway, it made me think that there may be, lurking in my psyche – all subconscious and twitchy, some horrible abusive patterns that I am in danger of repeating. Not terrible violent patterns like beating my child or mentally berating them but subtle abuse like shouting at my bub when she screeches or yelling at her to ‘shut up!’ or lobbing a rubber at her to get a moment’s peace from the noise.

I would never in a million years have thought of myself as an abusive person. Far from it. I am a woman made timid by years being surrounded by violence and abuse, watching and hearing it until I cannot remember much of anything about my childhood except one or two terrifying incidences that I would much rather forget. So why then does it worry me so much? I guess it’s because I know now that the possibility is there. Maybe it’s present in everyone just as I suspect that the ability to do many horrible things is present in everyone – we just don’t act on those urges. The question is what urges WILL I act upon? Given my history I think I am just that little bit more likely to give in to an aggressive urge and I need to know that now so that I can take some steps to avoiding it before it happens.

I don’t believe I am one of those women capable of shaking their child though I have had moments where I can see how it happens and I know that I handle Lily more roughly when I am angry than I do when I am calm and happy. I guess that’s a no-brainer though. Who wouldn’t? It’s just that I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be more at risk of smacking or shacking or even just shouting aggressively at my child and yet I know that I am. I am capable of dark and horrible things because I have been a victim of dark and horrible things and they live in my psyche. What then do I think of as normal?

There are days when I want so much to have just a little peace from the constant demands that she places on my time and I know that this is just me struggling to find myself in the role of mummy. And then there are days when I long to be attached more to my child, when I never want to stop breastfeeding her, when I think I should be holding her more, wearing her in a sling more, playing with her more and then I feel guilty that I am not focused on her 24/7.

I am trying to be a better parent to my baby girl than my mum and dad were to me. It’s not that difficult when it comes to my dad – I just have to not belittle them, punch them or make them feel inferior – oh and I have to not drag them from their beds at 4am while the hubble and I have a punch up in the house.
With mum it’s more tricky. I don’t really know what bad patterns I have internalised there. I can name a few of the more obvious patterns right off the bat such as:
Not pushing my child to compete with other children or to be ‘the best’ at something.
Not making my child do all the things I wish I had done as a child.
Not being so controlling that I don’t allow my child’s own personality to develop normally.
Not spoiling the child out of guilt for the start that I gave her and the horrible upbringing I allowed my other children to have inflicted upon them.

The subtle mum stuff is more difficult because I only just realised today that the capacity for violence is in me and there is nowhere else that it can have come from other than my parents and my upbringing. The blame lies squarely with them for that but the responsibility for Lily is mine. I will not do to her what was done to me – no matter how impossible the circumstances may have been. I will not allow myself to give in to these horrible snappy moments when I do things like this – no matter how small they are in reality. They are a sign of a much deeper well of dark matter that I must now start to scoop out in order to fill my parenting well with clear, nourishing cool water. How I do that I don’t know but it is my responsibility and I guess my leanings towards attachment parenting and aware parenting are all part of my desire to iron out the kinks in my psyche and be a good mum to Lily and her siblings when she has some.

I am a good person. I truly believe this. I just have a dark half, a bruised shadow that waits in the wings trying to show me, to teach me, how to do things better. How to be a better mummy. How to undo some of the damage so that I don’t pass it on.

What realisations come – huh?