Monday, 26 June 2017

Spa day? I just want to sit in my pants and watch Homes Under the Hammer

From personal experience, men seem to get a lot more free time.

  Now I know that this "free time" is available to me should I wish to take it, but the top and bottom line is that as soon as my Daughter has whiff of a temperature... I know something is coming. And is my "away day" really going to bloom into  free-spirited "free time" if I'm picking up my phone every hour, endeavouring to explain where the thermometer is, whilst juggling a cream cake and prosecco single-handedly and worrying about whether she's drinking enough, eating enough, taking her medicine and not on the verge of being admitted to hospital in a sicky, temperature ridden, red-faced, sweaty state? (As she has been repeatedly when that sky-scraping temperature won't budge and her face is covered in scary, non-blemishing suspicious spots from puking up.)

  Is our time out as mothers ever really free? How many of us can control worrying? How many of us know where specific, important things are kept to the detriment of our other halves who don't? My little one's immune system has really been put to the test and she's caught more than her fair share of strange illnesses and worrying bugs so far and with it has come this deep-seated anxiety for me, where I just can't seem to break away, mentally.

I know how quickly she deteriorates and I know what to do when she does.

My partner kindly and happily tries to persuade me to take as many days off as he does, he tells me to go to the spa over night (which I have done), to ask my girlfriends to join me on a weekend in a foreign country, go on holiday for a week, even.
He would genuinely be quite happy for me to go.
But I can't.
Because I worry too much. A physical holiday would never be a holiday from my mind and the constant worry of leaving my child for long periods of time. Don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of nights away, but any longer, just seems to send me into a frenzy of worry.

Thing is though, I still want... NEED time off.
Oh I need it, I crave it, give me all the time off.

 But when I have time off, I'm not thinking of the same kind of time off that he's thinking of: I want to stay at home and enjoy being at home at my own pace; I want to be able to watch Homes Under the Hammer in my pants without a toddler asking me why my pants are so big 47 times, alternated with demands for me to crawl under the sofa and retrieve a 2cm Suzy Sheep. And I actually want to see what that crumbling, derelict house looks like post-makeover by the end of the programme, really badly. 
I want to lie on my sofa and count the hideous swirls of aertex, because I've nothing better to do with my time, I want to walk to the local shop and buy my favourite magazine, stroll home at a leisurely pace and read it from cover to cover, which usually takes at least a week (on a good week!), I want to stand in my garden and look at my plants for an hour or two, without interruption, admiring the colours and shapes, even the dead ones.

I'm just saying, Men: just because we might not get out and about as much as you do, or sometimes even want to spend a whole day at the spa (which in fact requires effort beforehand, because we have bikini lines to tend to, we can't just go all spiders legs in public, fine for you though, you're used to it by now), we still want and need that break. Also, prancing around in costumes sporting our stretch marks or post-baby bodies at the spa just fills some of us with a bit of dread, particularly when bumping into hot babes in swim gear, it makes us feel a bit... crap.

A couple of hours every week does us the world of good; we don't need miles in between us and our children to feel more rested, to feel like we've had a break and are better able to juggle everything. Sometimes we just need to switch off our minds, focus on something else and still be around, should we be needed... but in emergencies ONLY.

And just to finish off, if you want to sit in your pants and watch boxsets all day, I completely understand, you need your time to chill too.
But don't forget to trade in one of your away-days for it first! ;-)

Friday, 2 June 2017

On messing up my Daughter

I am probably messing up my little girl.

I think this probably several times a week, maybe more.
Particularly when I read about the emotional impact that enduring depression can have on your children, or when I read an article about the long-term consequences of not being able to fulfil a child's cries for attention each time we're needed, or when I open a book about healthy eating and it tells me that my bad habits have probably already rubbed off on my little one. No hope for her relationship with food then? No hope for her mental health? And no hope for her self-esteem?
I've pretty much screwed her up already.

And then I sit here thinking about real life.
A new sibling; moving house; a bereavement; a new job; redundancy; a disability; financial worries; a long term mental health issue; health worries; a job to go to; a friend to help; a phone call you need to make; a meal to cook; a marriage to save; morning sickness; a letter to write; a computer to mend; tiredness; fear; hair to dry; a dress to buy; a new hobby to try...
The list goes on...

My point is that, no matter how much we endeavour to meet all our children's needs, we are actually probably never going to, although we can perhaps exhaust ourselves trying. We can not shield our children from every negative emotion and at times, we ourselves are going to be the evil instigators of the negative emotions our children end up feeling.
I know that I can not shield my daughter from every mis-hap that life throws at us, or even at me; I am sure she has endured the consequences of my turbulent emotions over recent months and I've felt accountable for that. I know that she struggled with a recent bereavement, primarily because of the huge impact it had on me and I was probably verging on depression for a duration of that time; I could not have met her emotional needs when I was feeling so low in myself.
This makes me feel terrible. But, it's the truth.
And then reading articles telling me that my child has been yearning for my love and attention whilst I've been absorbed in my own selfish grief isn't going to change anything; it just induces self-loathing and I'm sure there are plenty of articles on the impact of that too!

I even feel terrible each morning I get myself ready for work and take myself into another room whilst she entertains herself, or that Daddy tends to get her dressed, because it takes me much longer to get ready than him. I question if I'm damaging her because I choose to spend time applying make-up for work, rather than spending an extra 10 minutes in her company each morning. And then, when I'm cooking dinner and she's begging me to play hide and seek, I remember the book I read which charted the consequences of ignoring a child's desire for play on long-term self esteem.

"Work can wait; children are the important work."

Words of this nature in bold on the page opposite, surrounded by colourful rainbows, flowers and flying pigs.

I am terrified of messing up. Terrified that she will one day (soon after turning 13) tell me that she has never forgotten my emotional volatility in her early years, or the time I told her I was too busy to help her with her homework when she was 7, resulting in a detention and a long term phobia of maths, or that I just didn't give her enough love and attention.

Or maybe worse, whatever worse may be.

I'm not condoning messing up my daughter in anyway, but I guess this is my confession, that I know it's inevitable that something I will do will not help her in the long-run. That one day, maybe stuffing my face with chocolate cake because I'm due on my period didn't seem like a lesson in gluttony to me, but to her, it was a free pass to bad eating habits and subsequent low self esteem.

If my lovely little girl ever does read this blog, I really hope she can tell me that regardless of how I've messed up, amongst the chaos of daily life, she knows she's always been loved, which  really is the very best I can offer.