No one said it would be easy

I have heard the old adage about how hard it is to be a parent at least a dozen times, from at least a dozen sources. At least. Its hard for different people for different reasons and I often  find myself equally annoyed by and in total awe of those who take to motherhood like a duck to water. I am never going to be that mother. Yesterday is case in point.

Just before one I needed to stop at Pick n Pay and get a few things for dinner, I opted to leave my phone hidden in the car for five minutes of peace. I know. Rookie mistake. Murphy runs around my life like a headless chicken, I really should know better. Anyhoo. Get back in car. One missed called from unfamiliar landline number and two from D. Annoyed with D so call landline and get a busy message. About to dial D when whatsapp message pops up “On my way to fetch Haedyn”. Blood runs cold. Heart pounding I call D. It seems Haedyn has taken a kick to the face during some or other game at school. Shit. Race to school. In an aside the school can be ever grateful D got there before me and calmly collected my child without demanding to interrogate the little shit who hurt him, they would not have gotten off so easily had I arrived first. When I see him he is swollen, has blood on his face and seems more or less in tact. I ask him to show me the cut and know right off that needs stitches. Again shit.

We downgraded from full medical aid to a hospital plan when I left the big corporate I was working for simply because R8k a month on medical aid was not a feesible option. Hospital plans do not cover minor wounds that need a few stitches. It is two days before pay day and I am pretty close to broke having paid for a wedding more or less on my own. Thank goodness for my sister in moments like this. We met her at the doctor and a few tense minutes, some local anaestethic and four stitches later we left with my kid in tact. The gash in his mouth was about 3mm from having gone straight through his cheek. Also, remaining cheerful to keep him calm while the voice in your mind is screaming at you to take care of this precious child you were given is hard, and very draining.

 

 

Haedyn stitches

So at home we settled him with something for pain and some mindless rubbish on TV to just chill for a minute. I escaped to my room for five minutes to process this whole chain of events. I can’t realistically expect him to give up sport because of this can I?

By now its time to run the nanny home and make dinner. Rush through while sending emails that were neglected while running around playing ambulance.

Dinner apparently does not suit Mycaela. She sits in front of her plate, arms folded across her chest in full sulk. Anyone who knows her knows full sulk means you will get nothing out of her. You could hop sideways on your head and I assure you all that will greet you in response is that dead pan stare. Let me assure you it is not fun when your ten year old has worse tantrums that her three year old sister. After about half an hour I asked her what was going on. Death stare. I told her to put her dinner in the fridge but that she would not be given anything else, not food, juice or even water until she had eaten her dinner. Then the usual there are children with nothing speech and sent her to bed. More than an hour later when we tried to put Kyra to bed ( they are sharing a room while my sister stays with us) she was banging things around and making a noise just to prevent her sister sleeping. When confronted she stormed off, out of the house, out the front gate and off down the street. At half past seven at night, in the dark. Yup. Off I went to get car keys and follow her. Her only explanation, after asking her if something is wrong, if someone had done something to her, if she had been touched (worst fear) or something was making her act out, was that it is so unfair that she is forced to eat something she doesn’t like. Yes really.

She has seen a psychologist, no issues there, we have had extra lessons and offered rewards and handed out punishment. I do not know what to do with her. She told me yesterday she did not properly prepare for the exams they are writing. So another bad report despite my policing that she studies every day. She does not need to be in a remedial environment, we checked. She just doesn’t care and I don’t know how to get through to her.

This is what makes me cry more than anything else. Makes me question my ability to be a mother. Keeps me from sleep and makes me consider vodka fro breakfast.

My sense of humour died at around quarter to eight last night sitting in the car in the driveway, begging my child for the hundredth time to care.

How was your Monday?

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Live to fight another day?

I became a mother at around twenty to eleven on a cold Wednesday morning in May. It was almost thirteen years ago now, roughly six weeks before my seventeenth birthday. A tiny, beautiful, perfect little boy was handed to me and as his big blue eyes stared up to meet mine I was all at once certain he was the single best thing I had ever done and utterly terrified that I was responsible for him. Funnily enough, those same two thoughts seem to have narrated my internal dialogue over the last thirteen years.

I remember very clearly always having to defend my decision to keep my baby. Being asked why I hadn’t allowed my sister to adopt him. She had a house and a job and a boyfriend who would have helped her raise him. I could never make anyone understand that I would rather die than give him away. I knew I would never sleep again if I did not know where he was sleeping and if he was loved and happy. I remember always trying so much harder with everything when it came to him, my kid would not be an arsehole just because I was a teenager. People were watching, waiting for me to screw him up. Waiting for me to give up and leave him with my mom and run off and be the irresponsible teenager who got pregnant in the first place.

I have never come close.

Just over two years later and we added a baby girl to the mix and then the judgement got worse. I mean it’s bad enough to have one baby as a teenager now I had two. Just how stupid can one girl be? Yet still I fought to ensure my children were happy, and well- adjusted and had good manners. Most days I won that fight. Some days the fight beat me. I was existing, not living for those early years. I had an abusive alcoholic/drug addict boyfriend who abused me physically, emotionally and financially. Keeping food to feed your children is hard when you realise even though you left rent money with your boyfriend, rent hasn’t been paid and you are being threatened with eviction. I was nineteen. I can remember one Saturday afternoon where I had just fed the kids two minute noodles for lunch, not having eaten myself for a good three days, sitting on the edge of my bed in our tiny one bedroomed flat, crying my eyes out and wondering what the hell I was doing. No one is supposed to know how to figure that out at nineteen.

I was always told that my children would prevent me ever having the chance at a proper marriage as no decent man would marry me with my baggage. Add to that what having two babies before twenty does to your body and I was hardly catch of the year. I still today struggle with feeling good enough.

Now today, ten years later, I wish I could tell me then that things would be ok. I look back and shake my head at some of the terrible decisions I made. I want to weep for the way I allowed so many people to treat me. I was too generous with my time, kinder emotions and sadly often my body as well. I have spent the better part of almost thirty years chasing the need to feel loved and accepted. The honest truth is; I am exhausted.

As I approach my thirtieth birthday, it is not with a sense of trepidation but rather a feeling of determination to for the first time claim my place in the world. I will no longer kill myself trying to fit in or be a great friend with people who make so little time for me. A particular ‘friend’ is a good example. I make a supreme effort to attend each function she invites me to, always take a gift, no matter how tight money is. Yet she, when she deems it important enough to attend something I have planned (twice in seven years) she can’t even get a card. I am not about material things but there is some truth to the sentiment that it is the thought that counts.

I have come to realise that one of the most important things you can do as a parent is led by example. I feel I am failing them by allowing people to walk all over me. Yes be kind. Yes be generous. Do not however place this above your own happiness or well-being.

I guess the whole point of this is that I was talking to D a few nights back and expressed my exhaustion over having spent every day of the last thirteen years fighting. Fighting to be loved, fighting to be accepted, fighting to keep my children from being damaged by my lack of maturity and bad choices, fighting to prove ‘them’ wrong, fighting to make a living, fighting to be a friend, fighting to be worthy of a relationship, fighting my own inner voices, fighting my family, fighting loss, fighting the system and fighting myself when it felt too much.

Right now I have two full-time jobs, a broad base of free-lance work, a husband, four children, five dogs, a cat, a house, two cars, a nanny, a gardener, a sick mother and live-in sibling and somewhere myself who need something from me every day. If I had to go by textbook definition, I have maybe three friends who are genuinely there for me through this. This makes me sad. Truly. I do my very best to be there for people when they need me and my wedding made clear to me more than ever (another post for another day) just how few friends I have. This is the fight I am giving up. I would rather give my time and energy to people who will reciprocate from this point on.

I have accepted that my life will never be as charmed as some, things do not come easily to me. That is ok. That said I read a quote that said to go where you are celebrated and not where you are tolerated so as I head toward my thirties this is my aim. To recognise the relationships that are celebratory and nurture them and to walk away from those built on tolerance.

Bring on thirty, I am ready for it!