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Friday, 3 February 2012

Unpredictability and the Anxiety Hurdle

My Kid is unpredictable. Parenting is hard. It doesn’t always go to plan.  

The best thing to do is to roll with it.

It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that this is much much easier said than done.  Especially since other people can be so judgy.

Add to that my own expectations, plus a huge helping of post partum anxiety, and well, I was a walking disaster.

In the beginning I just didn’t go out. Oh sure, I popped around to the corner store or down the street to pick up take out, but this was always without my daughter. The idea that I could be somewhere with her and things could take a direction I couldn’t predict was positively crippling.

But I couldn’t stay inside forever. It was good for my daughter to see the world around her and, according to the various health visitors, community nurses, and counsellors I had visiting me, it would be good for me as well.

So, with my chest feeling like it was in a vice, I left the house, with a list of questions running like a ticker tape through my mind.

What if I stay out too long and her nap is too short?
Or she sleeps longer so eats later?
Or she needs a change and I’m near a place with a changing area?
What if she cries and I have no idea what to do? 

You may think these thoughts are normal and you just adapt and do your best, and I did. But the dark thoughts would always begin.

She’s not being unpredicatable, you’re just not a good enough mother to understand her.

A good mother can tell what her baby was trying to tell her
A good mother would be able to make her stop crying.

A good mother would have this situation under control.

I would do my best to talk myself out of it, remind myself that it was only me that was bothered.

Then, inevitably, I’d notice the looks or I’d overhear comments like “How can such a loud noise come from such a little thing,” and I’d realise that actually people did notice. The dark thoughts would then spin into over drive:

How dare you think you’re fit enough to take care of such a helpless being?

Don’t you realise that everyone around you is miserable because of your inadequacy?

They can tell you know……………That you shouldn’t be a mother.

If you don’t figure out how to make her happy soon, they will take her away.

Nine times out of ten, my daughter was crying because she was tired.  Once she was asleep, all would be fine. For her and for all those around.

But not for me.

The thoughts would keep coming.

You just got lucky.

Your night is going to be hell now.

What were you thinking?!?!

 You won’t get any sleep.

They might still take her away because they saw how clueless you are.

As my daughter grew, I got used to the vice grip on my chest.  I found a way to bottle up and block the thoughts away so I could make it through the day.  Then, at night, they flooded over me, recreating the scene and reminding me how badly I had handled it.

I can actually feel my chest tightening now as I write this, remembering with all too much clarity, many many times when it practically broke me.

As I get better, I realise that yes, I am kidding myself if I think other people don’t notice when little miss kicks off in public, especially now that she’s two.  Hell, even the doctor let her leave with a toy from his office the other day because of the tantrum she started throwing when I told her it was time to leave.

The difference is now I’m realising I actually know my little girl and I do everything I do for her out of love and that’s really all that matters.  I will make plenty of mistakes. She will throw plenty more curve balls in my direction. Neither of us is perfect and that’s okay. We’ll get through it.

Those judgy people can raise their kids how they want and vent to others about what they may have witnessed. I took my daughter out and split a flapjack recently, but the mom who commented about it doesn’t need to hear my justification for it and it doesn’t make me a bad mom because I didn’t give her a healthy snack instead.  I know that my girl calms down fastest when give her a bit of space and let her do it in her own time, but again, I didn’t need to explain this to the mom who tried to rationalise with her in the midst of her meltdown in the museum. That mom doesn’t need to explain to me why she thought her approach would work either.

I don’t think I will ever erase the demon thoughts that haunted me. However, I hope that the cringe-worthy moments that happen from now on will not bring me to my knees. Perhaps some will be worth retelling to other parents to remind them we’re not perfect and neither are these little humans we’re raising.  I think a lot of us worry about the judgy ones and sometimes they do get the best of us, especially when they turn out in numbers. However, I realise I am doing the best I can. My daughter loves me and I love her. We’ll get through the bumps because of it.


Lindsay said...

Proud of you, sweets. I gave B a donut hole today (gasp). How else will they know the wonderful tastes of life?

In all seriousness, you're doing a great job.

SandyS125 said...

Thank you for the encouragement and for coming over for a read so quickly! x

Anonymous said...

Sandy I know this anxiety well. I felt the same way. I would panic trying to take both girls anywhere.
Jenny @jenrenpody on twitter

nicole_asmanyasgiven said...

I had so many of those

SandyS125 said...

It's crippling isn't it? I wonder sometimes how mommy and me groups even have people at them!

SandyS125 said...

Thank you. I can relate, once I started using the bottle (and found the breast feeding rooms in town), my outings got a lot less stressful.