The Secret of my Anxiety | Part 2

So I imagine the first things you’re thinking are Did you tell her? Why didn’t you say something? And that is my one biggest regret that I didn’t nip it in the bud immediately.

I’m not a person that can deal with confrontation. I hate it. I can’t stand arguing with people, hate falling out with people. Over analyse every situation. And I was also super conscious that it was my husbands mum. I was scared to upset her- because she was his mum and because I didn’t have his backing I was made to feel that it was just me being a overprotective, controlling mother.

I wrote my baby’s routine down and put it in her bag. We encouraged her to walk before she was fully ready so that we could be the ones to get her first steps (I can’t even bear to think that we weren’t). I hate myself for having to do that. I eventually stopped sending spare clothes. I cried. I tried to make the things I didn’t like known by talking through my baby… “Oh we don’t do that do we —–“.
I think the only thing I didn’t do was abruptly tell her, until too late anyway.
And every time I did this, usually by text so I had proof of exactly what I’d said, I was told I’d been rude to her and I shouldn’t of spoken to her they way I had.

I was in a catch 22 situation. If I was ‘polite’, I got ignored or told it was alright. (One example is when my husbands sister was carrying my daughter round when she was more than capable of walking round… we’ve always encouraged independence rather than ‘mollycoddling’… and I said to my daughter “you don’t need carrying do you, you should be walking” to be told “*** likes carrying her”.)
If I was assertive, I was rude, out of order or my mother in law got up in my face with her retaliation.

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The Secret of my Anxiety

When I had my first baby I fell in love with being a Mama. Yes it was hard but it was the best thing that I’d ever done.

Then I had to go back to work. I didn’t want to go back to work, I didn’t want to leave my baby to go and look after other people’s, I didn’t want to miss out on all the things she was just beginning to do.

I had to entrust other people with the care of my baby when I went back to work and at first I was fine with that. I’d shared the childcare between my mum and my mother in law so she’d been left with these people already, she knew them, they were part of her life. It’s not like I’d never left her, despite not having left her on a regular basis before.

So back to work I went. And not quite immediately, but almost, things started happening that made me feel like my baby was being taken away from me. That I wasn’t part of her world when she was with this person. When she was with my mother in law.

That still makes my stomach flip over when I write that.

It started off gradual, just little things that most people wouldn’t even bat an eye at. Things that people would think god, what an overprotective, controlling mother she is.
‘It doesn’t matter.’ (Which is my husbands favourite line.)

Things like not following her routine, letting her sleep when she shouldn’t and not when she should, changing her breakfast cereal without telling us, trying to get her to take her first steps without us there, changing her clothes and redoing her hair within a couple of hours of me dropping her off. Coming to the car when I was dropping her off and getting her out of her car seat so that I couldn’t give her a cuddle and a proper kiss goodbye.

All these little things put together started snowballing and became big things. My husband didn’t believe me. Said I just wanted my baby with me and my family. Said it was because it was his mum. So I kept quiet. We kept arguing.

And that’s how my anxiety started.

The reality of being a working Parent.

I’m a working Mam with 2 children.

The ‘norm’ these days is you take a period of maternity (usually 9 months) and then you’re back to it.
Just as your child is starting to hit all those ‘big’ milestones. Crawling… Walking… Talking.

For me personally, I didn’t particularly want to go back to work but I ‘need’ to work to use my brain. To give me a purpose other than being Mam. So I can have a sense of self.

Only it’s not as simple as that.

If like us, you don’t have family support… any support… when it comes to childcare then you’ll know the pressure of being a working parent. Maybe you’ll still know it even if you have support with your childcare.
Not only does the cost of childcare so you can work weigh heavy on your bank balance but the juggle can weigh just as heavy.

You need childcare to work but your childcare bills takes most of your wage. If you’re child is sick they can’t go to childcare and you can’t go to work. There’s a pressure of appearing unreliable. For some people, you wont get paid.

How many jobs work round school hours? Extra childcare to cover breakfast or after school clubs cost more money. Breakfast/teatime sessions at nursery cost more money.

In our family, I’m responsible for the kids 95% of the time even when I’m working. I took the maternity, I work ‘part time’ round our childcare.
My husband’s self employed. My job’s flexible.
I took the paycut. And instead took on the responsibility and the pressure of being a working parent.

But this isn’t a dig at my husband, this is about what’s expected of parents.

We take maternity and then we’re back off out to work. Often our ‘babies’ are still waking in the night. Tired but still determined to prove ourselves.
Other people getting glimpses of our milestones, getting to share the best of our little ones.
The rush. Getting us ready for work- having to look presentable. The pressure of getting the kids to eat breakfast before we deposit them wherever they’re going. Gettting them dressed. Getting them dropped off on time so we can get to work on time. The pressure of not being late. Preying any little ones don’t get upset and drop off take longer than you’ve got time for.
Clocking off on time so we can collect the kids on time… and not be late.
Walking through the door from work, with the kids already in tow. You want to hear about their day but you also want to get out of your work clothes, get a brew.
Then you have to pick up the housework somewhere in between- put a wash on, get the tea on. Fit the food shop in.
If you’re not careful your days off can become catch up days rather than quality time with the kids. Because isn’t that why you work part time… so you get quality time with the kids?!
Having to cover school holidays. 6 weeks in the summer- I mean c’mon?!

More and more I’ve found myself resenting the pressure of being a working parent recently- and my job is flexible!
It’s virtually impossible to keep all the plates spinning without burning out.
And I can’t help but think is this really how it’s meant to be…

Life Goes On

The last time I saw my Grandma was on 30th July. Four months ago. That was also the last time I heard from her.

It was my birthday and she knocked on the door mid morning. Stupidly, I’d been looking forward to seeing her. I thought we’d finally turned a corner.
As I opened the door and asked if she was coming in, she gruffly told me “I’m not coming in, I’m going to town”, handed me some flowers and a card and said “are the girls still in bed!?”.
Well considering it’s 11am on my birthday- a Monday morning- and they’re 2 and 7 years old. No Grandma they’re not. “No, they’re upstairs” I reply puzzled by this question.
We say bye and off she goes. And gets into her other granddaughters car. No doubt with her other great granddaughter in tow.
As my two peer over the bannister shouting Grandma.

I feel that pain I know so well creeping in. Rejection. Inadequacy. Hurt.

My husband comes out of the bathroom and angrily says “that was so f**kin rude”. Amongst other things of what was her problem, was she not even coming in.

I can’t even bear to put the flowers in a vase or put the card up. So they go straight in the bin. She would view that as ungrateful but I couldn’t bear that feeling of hurt every time I looked at them.

I don’t even sugar coat it for the girls. But they don’t feel the hurt I do because she’s just Grandma to them- their Grandad’s mum who we see when we decide to go round. The one who feeds them fudge bars. There isn’t a close enough relationship with her that would cause them any hurt. I said from day one I’d never let anyone- family mainly- hurt them like mine hurt me. And she never even attempted to create a close relationship with them.

That hurt is there burning away for the rest of my birthday. It still burns now. My husband and my parents tell me not to even think about it… which is easy for them to say. I can’t stop a feeling. I can put on my brave face, which I do, which I wear so often that no-one has a clue. But that doesn’t stop that feeling.

I haven’t made any sort of contact with her since. She hasn’t been in touch since.
And so life goes on.

 

I Resign.

Dear Husband,

Please accept my resignation of all duties with immediate effect.

Whilst I adore my role of Mama, I did not sign up to undertake this role on my own. The additional responsibilities have become suffocating and I am unable to cope with the pressure.
Despite repeated discussions surrounding this and me clearly outlining what I needed you to do, you have still failed to provide me with permanent support.

I am not asking for separation, although this may be imminent if you decide to ignore the seriousness of this resignation, I am simply resigning from all household duties that cause me undue stress and do not benefit myself or the children.
I am also resigning from 50% of parental duties. The split of this is non negotiable although how it is split is open to discussion.

Whilst this initially seemed like a hard decision to make, unfortunately your ridiculous comments this morning have pushed me to take matters into my own hands and (for once) prioritise my own needs before I crumble under the pressures of daily, modern, life.

Regards,

Your over worked, under appreciated, weighed down by responsibilities wife
Emma

Louise; The Mummy Mummy Site- Making Mum friends

Here are my experiences of making “mum friends”:

In 2013 I had my first son, B.
Throughout the pregnancy I had visions of making lots of mum friends, endless dates at coffee shops, texting each other daily, sharing every minute detail of motherhood, a sisterhood bond, nights out and our children being the bestest of friends, forever. (Delusional much?)
The reality however, was so far from this idea. I did all that I could to try and make that happen, I ventured to every soft play in the local area, I endured countless hours of trying to shove my massive post pregnancy bum through those tiny, tiny holes. I researched and tried most of the baby/toddler classes in the area, taking my tiny baby who couldn’t find his finger let alone sign the word “cat” to baby signing classes and dunking him under the water at the local swim class to encourage him to blow bubbles. I know you all understand this having probably done the same yourself.
Each time, I plastered a huge smile on my face and tried to look welcoming to any mother who so much as looked in my direction. (Here’s to realising why I never made any friends!) And the product of all this hard work? Was one friend, her name was Linda and she was a grandma, twenty-five years plus my age. Very lovely lady but the dreams of chatting in my living room on a Friday night, with a glass of Prosecco started to disappear.

After I had my second son, M, in 2015, I was determined to make some friends, purely for the company when shoving my still very large bum down the slides at soft play and to cry with about having two children under the age of three and the difficulties it brought day to day.
When M was around five months old, two ladies on Netmums, who had moved to local area, expressed interest in meeting up and so I rejoined Facebook and made a group. I invited these ladies to the group and then messaged everyone who had posted on Netmums in my area recently to join as well.
Seven of us started in the group and I met all but one on the first week, four of us met at a sensory room in a local children’s centre and the other two came to meet me at a local soft play at the weekend as they both worked full time.
The group now has over four hundred members on there, from all backgrounds and the amount of mums on the group who have personally thanked me for starting it, is unbelievable. What started as a selfish need for friends for me and my children has blossomed into many mums making friends, having company, getting themselves out of the house and getting through those dark lonely days as a mum.
I have met over fifty mums, who were once strangers and I now have a group of people who I would call friends.

Here are my tips for making “mum” friends:
· There are many ways to actively find likeminded mums – websites such as Netmums, Mummysocial, Mush, Babycentre, Mumsnet, Facebook pages/group, bloggers (these are great for the socially anxious of us, you can chat, chat, chat, before you go to meet someone)
· Join local classes, try local soft play areas (early mornings are busiest before the nap time hits.) You do not have to spend a fortune, children’s centres (if you can find one still open!) put on free groups, not everyone can afford NCT and the likes!
· Why don’t you start your own? It worked for me! I have seen one mum recently write on a local buy and sell group on Facebook, asking for likeminded people.
· Put yourself in the right places – Yes, we all know that playgroups can be cliquey, go and ask the organiser to introduce you to people, if the organiser cannot introduce you to one person, then they are failing at their job as an organiser, so move on to the next group!
· If you see your child playing near someone, try, and speak to them. They are not going to ignore you, unless they are strange! Go and seek the mum sat on her own, maybe she is doing so for the same reason you are.

Tips for meeting up:
· If you have joined a website or an app, you are in a great position to get to know someone before physically meeting. By the time you meet, you should already have some ice breakers, whether it is the name of their children, which soaps they like, a favourite band or just a general distain for men! You will already have conversation starters!!
· When planning to meet, take into consideration, the venue (don’t meet in a coffee shop if you have a lively toddler who will not sit still) plan a time where nap time is not looming and school pick up is not close. Think sensory rooms, playgroups, parks, mum fitness classes (we have a local wheelyfit, walking with prams) places where your children, can be children and you can have a chat.
· The best advice I can give is to CHILL OUT. Personality wise, I am not a centre of attention, social butterfly, kind of person. I prefer conversations where I get to know someone, rather than “are you going on holiday this year? What did you think of Eastenders last night?” (I do like Eastenders by the way) I don’t make noise for the sake of it and much prefer to listen when in a group, than talk to be heard. It is just who I am, but even being that person, I have pushed myself to meet strangers. And when I say pushed, I mean pushed both physically and mentally.
· Do not think for one minute that the other person will be feeling completely fine and confident about meeting you, they won’t. After all, they are meeting a stranger too.
· It is ok to be nervous and anxious and want to back out, there may well be awkward silences (I once misheard a woman say she had a six-week-old, thought she said six-month-old and started asking her about weaning, cringe.) You may not have much in common personally, or even think this person is your type of friend. However, it is an hour of your time, you have gotten out of the house and have company. You do not have to see this person again!
· Meeting another mum, you will always have something in common, you both have children. We can all talk about dirty nappies, tantrums, lack of sleep, funny anecdotes from the cherub’s mouths, can’t we? So, if all else fails, just talk about the children.
· Last question, how do you expect to make mum friends if you don’t put yourself out there to do so? Unfortunately, making friends takes time and you need to put yourself out there to get to know others and allow then to get to know you. Be open to making friends, stop the judgement of others, and be prepared to have some differences along the way.

Louise blogs over at https://mummymummysite.wordpress.com/

To my girls

Girls,

First of all I want you to know that you have been the making of me. You’ve given my life meaning, purpose and you have given me a strength like no other.
If you become Mama’s yourselves one day you will understand that strength.

In my posts I make no secret of the fact that I find it hard, parenting… parenting you two. I use the terminology that is common today- I lose my shit… I have parenting fails… I swear.
But this is never a reflection of who you two are. This is a reflection of our lack of support and the lack of help that I receive. It is also a completely natural feeling for parents.

You two are so hard to parent because you have such strong personalities. You fight against every boundary I set. You question me and challenge the things I say. You explore your surroundings, you’re inquisitive and you’re minds are like sponges soaking up information. You know your own minds and rarely conform.
And whilst I often say you wear me out, that I’m tired and drained, that you take all my energy, I never complain about who you are.
This is because you are everything I ever hoped you would be and whilst you are extremely hard to parent now, whilst you’re small, you are going to be amazingly strong, smart women.
Whilst you are incredibly hard to parent now, I NEVER want to change who you are and your personalities because you are everything I ever hoped you would be.

I shout, I lose my shit and sometimes I just want you to go to bed because I’m trying so hard to show you the way, to fight you so I can set those boundaries that you have to learn whilst supporting your strength and your individuality. I’m trying my hardest to answer all your questions whilst juggling everything else and remembering everything I have to do.

I want you to always know that whilst I post about the hardships of my parenting journey, those hardships are only because of the way I’M raising you. They are only because I am encouraging you to challenge the world and to not conform. To not be led by others but to lead the way yourself.
They are also because I am your main role model. And I try to be all of those things too, but you both outshine me on every level and that is exactly what I’m proud of.

Parenting you two will never be easy, but it will always be a million times over worth it.

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