I need to provide an introduction for this piece of writing. It is something I wrote several years ago and I have thought and thought for a long time about whether to put it on here. This piece of writing is from a period in my life where I was struggling with the really challenging behaviour of my eldest. I can only put it on here now because, although there are still moments, we are a zillion miles away from that now. I never thought we would be, but we are. So, I don’t post this to in any way dishonour or disrespect my son – it is my hope that in the future we will be able to talk and laugh about what was in the past. I put this on here mainly because when I was going through this I could find very few people who understood, and very little information to help. Having had a few conversations recently with mums’ dealing with similar things, I am posting this piece to encourage. To say that it’s ok to feel like this. And to say that it will get better. Here we go…
A soft heart?
I have found new depths of heart since having children. Depths of warmth, joy, reward, pain, sacrifice, love, pride, melting-ness, tear-ing… I think I am more connected to my emotions in some senses than I ever was. But it is tiring. Motherhood has been harder work than I ever could have begun to imagine. So all encompassing, enveloping, overwhelming, analysing, plodding, enjoying… I have committed mind, body and soul to these little children and it takes up all my essence and energy to do it. For this season I have put aside so many other things that are part of my make up. I keep little snippets of these things going, which brings me fresh air as well as creating extra traffic in my headspace. The balance. Ever juggling. Ever thinking. Pondering. Wondering.
This, maybe that.
What will be?
Some days I am sure I am a bad mother, other days I’m a good one. It’s “good enough” though that’s supposed to be enough. I wonder if I am even that at the moment… A heart that was so soft has been hardening for sure over the last few weeks. I feel pricks in my eyes as I think on it. And I hate to point the finger, but it is my first child to whom I feel like my heart has grown hard. Not hard all the time – underneath it all it is so soft and loving and wrapping up of him… perhaps it is just weariness. Is he a particularly difficult child? Am I proving a difficult mother for him? Are we a difficult combination? Questions.
He can bring such over-spilling warmth to my bones. Wow. But he is like a double edged sword, and I feel the pain of that at the moment. Perhaps it is self preservation? I feel like I cannot take the battles any more. No more. Relentless, incessant, interminable… exhausting. I try every technique in the book and resort to shouting and saying things I shouldn’t. Patient, patient, patient until BOOM… I snap. Sucking it all up like some maternal vacuum cleaner. By the end of the day my body is so tight and tense, I realise I have not been breathing deeply for quite a while. Sucking it up. Sucking it up. And then regretting the explosions. I suck up the hit, pinch, kick, throw, metal bus, metal car, dinner plate, no to this, no to that, noyesnoyesnoyesnoyesnoyes, rage out of nowhere, perfectionism and anger over who knows what tiny thing. The hours of night rages in the deepest parts of the night; the ability to trash a room in an instant; the obsessions over the strangest things – a car out of line spells disaster; the places I can no longer take him and people I can no longer see. I yearn to really enjoy him… to enjoy.
Pre School call me in to express their concern – and extra help is ordered. “Thank God for that!” I thought. At last somebody else has seen the dark side.
The bouncy, chirpy Health Visitor with some shiny qualification in Child Psychology, but no children of her own, then arrives and says I should “try a sticker chart… he is looking for attention”. I look at her incredulously and determine to drink an extra large glass of wine when she leaves. She clearly doesn’t know what it’s like to have a raging four year old trying to attack you whilst screaming some mad, abusive language that he doesn’t really know the meaning of…
Sticker chart schmicker chart.
That is utter small fry in my current world. My sticker charts usually exist ripped into hundreds of tiny pieces by enraged little fingers. Sticker charts are on the bottom rung of a ladder of techniques I have tried over the past few years, that I feel I could now lecture on.
There are bright, shiny moments of sparkle, but they seem overcrowded, dominated, overcast by the unceasing clouds of the negative at the moment. I’m finding it hard to see beyond them. Tired.
Every morning. Battle.
Every meal. Battle.
I see spirit in this wilfulness. Such focus and determination in the passionate obsession. Such ability to challenge and channel energy in his stubbornness. These things must be good. Must be. At some point on the horizon. Beyond the horizon.
I’m ashamed to say it but at times I feel so resentful. Robbed of joy and fun; robbed of really desiring more children; robbed of my dreams; robbed of my gentleness and self control. A mummy monster. I have become a double edged sword too. Do I reflect him? Or has he unearthed in me what was actually already there? I feel embarrassed of him at times… but more embarrassed of me. My actions. My internal thought life… that currently contains a range of expletives that I never knew existed before I had kids. **%!!?$$ Love and hate have a fine line between them. But this is just now. Maybe I just need to let it all out. But not at him. Not at him.
Time out. Let it out. Let go. Forget it all. Stop still. Breathe. Smile. Space. Quiet. Create. Appreciate. Feel. Release. Soften. To soften. To be soft.
To accept the pain and not respond painfully to it.
To accept the pain and not respond painfully to it.
I know I need to crack open this heart again. It’s becoming dry. So done with it all. With him. With the repetitive challenge. Enough. Please. Did I sign up for this? I need a little more joy. But I know I need to call on my Maker to pummel my heart… to remould and refind love and compassion and patience. Ever escaping virtues. A soft heart where these things can flourish and grow. I’m far off. Who thought it would feel so tough? Be so tough? Help me find the joy. Not the anger. Anger. Anger. Boiling. Simmering. Be gone.
A soft heart I need. Somehow.