Friday, May 24, 2013

My favourite photo is breaking my heart

Day 17, Friday: A favorite photo of yourself and why

The prompt for day 17 of #blogeverydayinmay (I know it is actually the 24th but on Vanessa time it is the 17th) is to post my favourite photo of myself. My favourite photo of all time is the one of me holding Noo just after he was born. I've already published it several times on this blog but what the hell, here it is again.

Noo's birthday

You can read about the day Noo was born in more detail here. On this day my life changed. In this moment I wasn't thinking about what kind of baby he would be or what kind of parent I would be. I hadn't even thought about parenting styles let alone did any research into it. I just figured mothering would come naturally.

What came naturally was the love I felt for my son. So pure and simple. But parenting? This gig sucks sometimes. Sometimes I think I'm doing an awesome job and others, like now, I feel like the worst mother in the world.

I've mentioned quite a few times on my blog and on social media that I've been brought to tears a lot lately. I'm crying right now as I type this. An emotion so strong overwhelms me. Sometimes I think it is my anxiety but as the days turn into weeks I feel like I'm dipping back into depression. I'm not quite sure how this could be.

I keep telling myself that it's my meds. Maybe after four years of taking citalopram my body has built a tolerance up. Or maybe my iron levels have dropped again. I had chronic iron deficient anaemia until this time last year when I finally got an iron infusion. Or maybe my thyroid has gone crazy again (I had postpartum thyroid disease so there's a chance my thyroid could go nuts again).

Surely there has to be a rational explanation for all these tears!

Now back to the photo. The trigger for my tears over the last month has been Noo. He's changing before my eyes. He's back chatting, refusing to do as he is asked, hitting me, so angry with me. It breaks my heart because I don't know what to do.

I am turning into the parent I don't want to be: screaming, distant and inconsistent. But my usual methods of parenting are not working. Nothing is getting through.

I made the decision quite early on after Noo was born to do 'attachment parenting'. This style of parenting fit in with my values. I could never let him cry himself to sleep. We co-shared our bed until he was three. I have always tried to discuss any behaviour problems directly with him rather than doing timeouts. So far it has worked.

Noo and I have always been as much mates as we are mother and son. I guess not having a dad around has made this a really natural way for our relationship to evolve. I've always loved his company. Yes there have been bad phases before now. This time last year I was at my wits end with severe RLS, anxiety, low mood, headaches and concentration issues thanks to the anaemia. I even briefly put him in for an extra day at daycare a week because I just wasn't handling him.

The situation last year was a lot like it is at the moment except Noo is older. He has more words and has become more physical. He sometimes looks at me with these angry eyes and angry mouth, his little hands clenched in balls and I just don't know who he is any more.

Why do I make him so furious?

I look after my niece two days a week. On Mondays Noo goes to daycare and I look after Mala. Is that what makes him cross?

On Tuesdays I have both children. Noo loves his cousin but is always trying to pick her up or bop her on the head or trip her over. I am constantly telling Noo to leave her alone. Stop touching her! She's only a baby! Does that make him cross at me?

Is he craving a dad and doesn't know how to articulate it? Is he angry he doesn't have one? Is it a testosterone surge that has him needing to do male things? Is he sick of hanging around women all the time? He doesn't behave badly with his grandmother or aunty...

Why aren't I handling this situation? Why do I fear my four year old child?

Does Noo pick up that I am not feeling well and so he behaves badly as some sort of defense mechanism? Is he angry that I'm crying. A mother should be strong, right?

I know last year after I had the iron infusion and my restless leg syndrome was cured and my mood stabilised Noo's behaviour improved incredibly.

But what if my mood now is low because of his behaviour, not the other way around? Chicken and egg... which came first? Noo's bad behaviour or my bad mood?

Fucking hell. I hate this. I just want my baby boy back. My heart is breaking for him. Fuck knows what his teen years will be like, for the both of us.

I know I broke my parent's hearts more times than I care to count. I know that it is a certainty that Noo will one day say he hates me and lash out at me because of something I wouldn't let him do or have or whatever.

But why now?

Isn't it too soon for kids to hold grudges against their parents?


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Kim | Melbourne Mum said...

Awwww, lovey, I'm so sorry you are feeling this way. My 10c worth is that he's 4 and he's in the "Littlest Sh*t" phase - I think they all go through something like this. It would suck that you have to handle this solo, I do think that most parents go through something like this at some stage (I know I do!) I very much doubt he hates you or resents you - if something has changed (your mood, childcare duties etc.) he may be sensing that change and reacting to it. I know my eldest has had a real sad-sack week and is hyper-clingy now I've gone back to work. She says it has nothing to do with it, but I reckon the change of routine unsettles her, even though she's 7 and quite a resilient kid.

Just hang in there! I reckon it will get better, but you've got to look after yourself as well as him. Happy Mum: Happy Son! (easier said than done, I know!) Kx

Kim | Melbourne Mum said...

By the way, that is the MOST BEAUTIFUL PHOTO EVER! said...

Thanks Kim. Love your rhyme:
Happy mum
Happy son
Easier said than done.

I keep telling myself it is just a phase. "This too shall pass." But sometimes it is so hard to sit with it until it does.

Thanks again. V.

Kylie Purtell said...

Oh V, I agree, this parenting gig really does suck sometimes. Punky has been having a particularly bad week or so, super amounts of crying and whinging, clinginess, screaming and frustration (from both of us) and unsettled sleep. I am so over the whole thing by now! Hang in there, I'm sure its just a phase (I will cross my fingers for you) although I know that doesn't make it any easier. Big hugs! xxx

Angela East said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear you're in a slump :-( Remember he is only 4. He has lots of years to 'come good' before his teen years hit. I think it doesn't matter what situation we're in, we can find reasons as to why our child might resent us. When my little guy is having angry moments I often think maybe I'm doing him a disservice by not sending him to daycare, or maybe he needs a sibling, or MAYBE he hates being isolated in a small town and needs more kids to be around.

The thing is, we can only do the best we can. We can't create a 'perfect' world for our child because the world is not perfect, our situations are never perfect and WE as humans, are not perfect! Try not to beat yourself up about it. And definitely seek help if you feel he is getting out of hand. There's lots of services that can help.

Hope you feel better soon! xoxox

Jeanie said...

Hugs to you V - whoever said motherhood was a walk in the park were just selling us a bridge, I think.

I was in a bit of a similar situation to you when my oldest was that age - no dad around, wanting to be the best parent and mate to my little one and depression looming over me like an omnipresent threat.

What ended up working? Who knows, she is now a teenager so therefore I am not out of any woods and in constant need of reassurance that I am not raising a two-headed monster. So I actually was a bit more proactive in my own health and not just comfort eating.

But also - her behaviour plummeting reminded me that if I have all my shit together, she coped better (because on the days she didn't have all of hers together I could deal).

I also learned that being the constant, calm parent was impossible when you have a child trying to find out where the boundaries are. They are scared little people who want to know security, and there is no security like knowing that they can't do certain things (or even thinking that I needed her input on any decision) - and so I was on her like smell on fish as to what she was not allowed to do - tightened the screws up real tight for a week or so (and really, it didn't take that long) (and it was hard, don't get me wrong).

She didn't get options - it was "this is the plan for the day. You are wearing this. We will be ready and out the door in x minutes".

It was exhausting - but the payoff was profound and a real eye-opener for me. Being "on" all the time and reacting to the required tests rather than being laissez faire and playing it by ear was hard. Once we got used to the new regime, I could actually relax more because she didn't need as much vigilence - but I still had to be vigilant with myself because I was part of her problem.

I actually also looked after another young fella at the time one day a week (not a baby) and we used to do adventures all together - we had to go on at least 2 types of public transport and find at least one park (or indoor activity when raining) and we took a picnic we all made together. Sure, it was exhausting to me, but they had a great time and they got a bit worn out also (bonus).

I am not saying that is what is with your baby and this is the one and only solution - that was my experience with my child at that time. But there are things that can make a world of difference. said...

Thank you so much Jeanie for this thought out comment. I know I have to get my shit together. My laissez faire attitude to parenting just won't cut it any more. I have to start getting some discipline in my life around meal times, bed times, etc, as well as planning the rest our days so Ned can have some structure in his life. I have to be consistent with discipline and have a system of reward rather than bribe him all the time for a promise of good behaviour.

Gosh, this is so hard! It feels like it will be the biggest adjustment but I have to tell myself that we both need this change. I don't think I can survive like this otherwise.

Thanks again for your comment. For all of them! V. said...

Hey Angela. I've signed up to a weekly parenting support group run by the govt in July/August so hopefully that will help. I really need to get more discipline in my life so I can help Ned get more in his. Only I can do this. There's nothing wrong with him. Thanks so much for the comment. V. said...

Thanks Kylez! I can't wait for this phase to pass for the both of us. I hope Punky passes through her current phase soon too. V. x

Diet Schmiet said...

Sorry I can't offer you any advice (as a non mum) but almost every parent I know thinks they're doing a crap job and everyone else has the answers. I suspect it comes with the territory. Hang in there. But don't forget to do what you need to do for you. It's like the aeroplane oxygen mask analogy - take care of yourself first so you can take care of your child. xxx

Paula Kaye said...

The hardest job in the world is being a mother. And there is not a single instruction manuel. Oh there are lots of books on parenting, that I know, but none of them will tell you exactly, step by step, how to be the best mom there is. I raised two boys exactly the same. One turned out good. And one turned out with a butt-load of problems. Now I am raising his two kids. It is hard. The hardest, most thankless job there is. I have found that it is imperative to have a schedule. I think that kids need that as much as I do. And consistency with discipline. Start now and stay firm. And lots of good luck and prayers. said...

Thanks Deb. I've put Ned in daycare on Tuesdays. It will help with his routine and I will be able to handle Mala better on my own. V.

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