Friday, May 11, 2007

Totally unfunny

I am fed up. I am so fed up I do not think I can even be funny about how fed up I am. It is not funny when a mother of three seriously contemplates running away to London for a day's purposeless shopping, and not coming home, at least for tonight. I decided I couldn't. It would confuse the children. It would confuse me. I might not want to come home at all.

I say "home". Obviously, it is not a "home". My "home" is occupied by smiley, dusty men with big boots who have revealed they are four weeks behind schedule. We cannot move back in to the cottage when we thought we could. It is not their fault. Two weeks went on slating a roof which was not in the orginal spec; another two weeks , replastering all the walls when it was hoped they would just need repair. Both roof and walls look better; I feel worse. I want my house back.

I do not think the funeral helped. Death, I have to say, is a bit of a downer. Not just for the dead. Funerals give you the chance to catch up with those you love and never see; meet those you like and will never see again. I met a deal of kindness there. Other people's kindness fills up an empty part of me. Someone who walked me across a field with a bull in it. A bull can fill a field. Very fast. He made me braver. One of life's natural carers who made us tea and fed us ham. A girl in a lakeside hotel, who brought me a teapot, cup and plate of digestives as I perched, gloomy, in the hotel foyer with a laptop. Dancing between customers in the bar, busy as busy; yet, she took a moment to glance through an open door and see me. She could have looked away, poured a smiling, eager face another foaming drink. She didn't. Another. An old friend of my father's who said to me: "You're a lovely looking girl." I am 42; I suspect he had cataracts. I am 42; I take a complement where I can get one. I liked all these people.More besides. But still, I got "peopled out".

There are times, when I feel my life has no "pause" button. Something you could press for a few moments of silent time, thinking time; the time to ask: "Where am I now?" I grope around. No button. The clock ticks on. You tick on. Even this morning, I crawled back to bed after the school run. At least I tried. There were two adults downstairs but my four-year-old came up to me three times within half an hour; hectoring, demanding, loving.

I am fighting back panic, that swept-away feeling of: "What am I supposed to do here?" Yesterday, the boys had a spaghetti sword fight. Inch-long pieces of (uncooked) spaghetti, shattered over the kitchen floor. At bedtime, the six-year-old water bombed the four-year-old's bed. What am I going to do when the baby is old enough to join in concert with her brothers' mayhem? We are outnumbered. We will be washed quite away. In 20 years time, I am sure I will laugh at their antics. If I am not dead, I will play "remember when's" with them. I will say: "Remember. When you flooded the bathroom. Twice in four days." Today though. Today, I want to weep. I feel guilty. If I was not writing, that is to say, working. Working at home. Still. Working. If I was more focussed on the children, they would stop moving seamlessly from one outrage to the next. If I was more willing to make papier mache piggy banks and take them on forays to the playground, they would transform themselves. They would be Granny's dream boys.

I am constantly "the bad guy". I take treasures away; rant; drone on, endless and relentless. They must "listen...do as you are told". They carry on. Regardless. I am reconstituting the star chart (rewards and praise for good behaviour.) I do not want to draw up any star chart; I want to run away. I am just not sure London is far enough.

54 comments:

Minx said...

I still look back down the road to the past and think "how did I ever cope". My partner worked very long hours and I went back to work full time when both the feckers`reached 3 months and I still don't know how I managed.
Everything is a phase. Out of one and into the next but each time moving forward. Don't worry, your small people will be taller than you soon and you will be longing for these chaotic days again.

sunshine said...

Oh, wifey -- I suspect you are going to get dozens of very empathetic comments from moms around the world. Your post is the perfect definition of motherhood -- relentless. Dads move in and out of the picture, but Mom is always there (even when she is not there). A mother truly is the center of the family. And she can drown there and nobody even notices as long as the meals keep coming. There is no where you can run to -- you are tethered there by blood and responsibility.

On the bright side -- why don't you contact the Dyson folks? An up and coming writer demonstrating how well their machine cleans up pink goo and spaghetti shards should make really good ad material!

Kaycie said...

I have three children as well but mine are quite a few years older than yours, my youngest being 8. It does get easier as they grow and time passes. The chaos of your life being turned upside down only increases the feeling of life bearing down on you. There are so many of us who understand completely how you feel. Sending you strength and good wishes today and hope that things look brighter to you tomorrow.

Daniel said...

Oh, dear old Mom-in-the-North; you're just having a bad day. My grandmother used to say that when she was feeling down, she would try to picture people who are worse off. I know it sounds like a dumb platitude, but maybe if you try it, it will help a little.

Drunk Mummy said...

I remember when my kids were very little, that feeling of not daring to open my mouth at times, in case a very high-pitched scream might come out. I also thought that once I started screaming, I might not be able to stop.
It does get easier!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Don't beat yourself up: death takes time to come to terms with.

Have you reinstated TV rights? It might make them a little less boisterous.

Marianne said...

I remember well when I had three small children, thinking that I wanted the world to stop. That I needed to get off, it was so relentless. Thinking I was the only Mummy who ever shouted at her adorable children.

And now they are all so much bigger and stronger than me, and I miss the touch and feel and smell of their smaller selves so much. I write about them more than I see them and I have to learn to be me again, not a Mummy. I still want to run away sometimes though.

@themill said...

Grief hits us all in different ways. Can I suggest really long walks on the beach (with toddler in back pack if necessary)every day, whatever the weather. It was my failsafe when my crew were being overly boisterous. They came back exhausted and I would feel much calmer. On sunny days I would take a picnic and we would go straight from school. Before you know where you are they will be fleeing the nest and you'll be wondering where the years have gone. Try to enjoy them, but don't feel guilty about the odd bad day. We all have them.

@themill said...

Forgot to say, being a full time parent is much harder than going back to work outside the home. Several of my friends chose the workplace because home life was just too exhausting!

Belladonna said...

You are so right. I chose to work KNOWING it was the easier option.

The walk is good advice - it takes you out of yourself - although I know that it will take some organisation to get them all out of the house.

The only other thing that might help is a child-free day for you. And night. Maybe a whole night full of sleep.

Stay at home dad said...

What's wrong with mucking along ineffectually anyway?!

PS I hope you have cheered WITN up Sunshine, because you have sent me into a deep despair!

Norman said...

Belladonna, I think you're right. Things ARE getting on top of poor WITN I reckon.
As a mere male it took me quite some time to "twig" what was going on with my wife and little brood until one day I thought it would be a good idea to take them camping for a week end and leave my better half at home. One trip was not enough but a series of trips, about once a month worked wonders.
I've no doubt my daughter Cath (who has joined in here) will tell you some of crazy things we got up to... or will she?
The Pennine Way passed very close to our house so lots of long walks figured.

sunshine said...

SAHD -- so sorry about the despair. Looking back several decades at my daughters' childhoods, I remember most the heaviness of being essentially a single mother. I also remember shining moments but at the time those were sparks of light in a hectic schedule with not enough sleep and not enough money. And always being the one on call.

I would never not have done it, however. Grandchildren are our rewards for being parents in the first place!

sunshine said...

An amazing postscript to all the dreary foregoing -- My 47 year old daughter remembers me as competent, loving, happy, supportive----a tribute, I guess, to my ability as an actress!

mountainear said...

My mother always used to tell me 'worse things happen at sea.' You can imagine how much I appreciated that helpful maxim at times of maximum stress. But then there's really nothing that anyone can say when that cloud descends and the maelstrom of family life churns faster and faster.

It does get better, easier. And yes, one day all the calamities will be amusing anecdotes.

It's just occurred to me perhaps you need an old-fashioned wife to remove the pressure? Why should wives be solely the preserve of husbands?

beta mum said...

I always took my two out to a park/beach/anywhere when they were little.
It was for their own safety on a bad day, and for my sanity every day.
My son in particular was of the needing a run every day type of child.
He's 8 now, and he still bounces off walls if it's rained all day and they haven't played outside.
But they don't create so much chaos these days.

merry weather said...

You sound very very tired today, go easy on yourself, you achieve a lot. Hope tomorrow's brighter after a rest....When you finally get your home back maybe you could buy a shed and escape while the nanny takes care of the kids. Find some creative space, away from the floods and yells!

Iota said...

You could try a trick which works occasionally. Pretend you are their nanny. Pretend you will go off duty when they go to bed. Pretend you are being paid. Pretend their long-term emotional well-being doesn't depend on your love. You have a lot of imagination, so this will work for you, I bet, for that evil hour between 6.00pm and 7.00pm. Just don't expect it to work too often or for too long.

jane said...

Oh dear, you're having the sort of day that I remember oh so well. The feeling that everyone can handle their kids better than you can deal with yours, the guilt at wanting to be somewhere (anywhere) else, knowing you should be grateful to have lively healthy children and, quite frankly, the mind-numbing boredom of being everything, doing everything and providing everything on a non-stop, thankless basis (I bet you're more fed up than ever now, but does this all sound familiar?). These days will pass and amazingly you'll wish they were back again. But knowing that doesn't help you much now. Frankly, I think you need several things:

Time off to look out of the window aimlessly, or stare into the middle distance on your own (throw yourself on the mercy of your "help" - tell her you will go barking mad if you don't get some downtime).

A bit of meditation or yoga (away from the house, obviously). Any local classes?

A pedicure, reflexology session, back massage or something like that in order to restore the body.

I know it's less materialistic to go for a walk, look at a rose, or a sunset or whatever, but you sound so fed up I think you need a bit of personal heavy-duty body and soul restoration.



It will all be OK.

jane said...

Oh, and one more thing you need.

A large Kit-Kat all to yourself, and a nice cup of tea.

Cathy said...

I want to run away every day.

bex said...

I'm sorry to hijack this post but I was wondering whether as a mother you would be prepared to feature a picture of Madeline MCann on your blog and a number for crimestoppers. I know a lot of people read your blog so if everybody who blogs does the same then we could have a lot of coverage. Please consider it.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Oh dear! Thought I'd just have a nosey at the blog 'everyone's' been talking about recently. I'm sorry. You might know what I mean. My child, sometimes the equivalent of three, has taught me so much about life; patience, hope and more love than I ever dreamed was possible to experience. Hang on in there. Your light shines ahead.

P.S. now that I know how to find you, I look forward to enjoying your blog - hopefully on a happier note next time.

lady macleod said...

Oh love, I fear I know of no magical advice for you. I offer my sympathy, my sisterhood as a mother, and my wisdom from being able to look back and tell you - not only you, but they will live through it as well.

Brilliant to write it down! Your own therapy, I did needlepoint. Whatever works..

Breathe in and out. Everything else is an extra.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

-Stiff drink - Margarita?
-A crafty fag?
-Whack the stereo up to max with something angry (Ms Dynamite does it for me)
-lean your head on the speaker.
-If you can still hear children, turn it louder.
-Weep.
-Weep a bit more and your children will cuddle you.
-Sleep.
-Don't feel guilty.
Pigx

mutleythedog said...

Oh stop moaning Wifey - take Crystal Meth and celebrate the end of the Blair era!!I think you probably need some erhmmm "Night Time Company" I am free on Tuesday should this be a convenient time...

Oooh ooh ! I've another idea - sell them on ebay. Don't actually have to go through with it but it should create enough insecurity to cow the little swines.

Cath said...

WITN - you are NORMAL! All those who say it will pass are right. You all get through.

And yes I could tell you some tales about our camping and mountaineering trips with dad - great madness! But not tonight. I have had my own trials with a 17 year old, now happily resolved but a very stressful week nonetheless. And mum still in hospital and this is when I do wish I only lived round the corner.

The guilt we feel about parenting turns full circle and becomes the guilt we feel about daughtering!

Hang in there girl. No one can do it better than you.

sophie said...

my brother used to fight my sister and i with the track of his scale electrix. you are lucky with just the spaghetti

PbPhil said...

WITN, you'll be fine...happens all of us...dads get affected too. Actually I reckon 4 and 6 aren't too bad.

At 9 they are smart, mad, cunning, rude, confident and think they know it all.

4 & 6 are physically tiring and you dismay at the mayhem created...

but later I think you might miss it...

Belladonna said...

One last technique I used for coping was to imagine that there was a reality TV crew in the cupboard under the stairs and I was a member of the audience.

So when "the" Mummy comes downstairs and sees the swords of pasta on the kitchen floor, does she (a) flip her lid (b) collapse in a sobbing heap on the pasta-strewn floor or (c) clean the mess up, confiscate the DS and lead them all in a rousing chorus of "she'll be coming round the mountain"?.

It worked for years until I read some busybody's article on dissociative personality disorders.

Daisy Turnip said...

Dear WITN, I'd like to say it gets easier, but it doesn't, it gets shed loads worse! And I only have one child - a teenage, hormonal daughter. It's like riding a daily roller coaster!

Brace yourself, keep your chin up, keep smiling and hold on tight : )

Sarnia said...

God how I HATED it when my three were little.

They're teenagers now and it's so much better.

I remember the feelings of being overwhelmed by it all. I was living in the States - no family (or Nanny!) to help. Just me (husband at work) and three children under the age of four.

However! They are now 20, 18 and 16 and bloody wonderful!

I still never had a Nanny or any help at all btw.

occasional northerner said...

I agree with stay at home dad. I have decided that life is for filling up (generally with any old rubbish) and once one day is full its on with the next one.

Minx said...

Ebay is a non-runner Mutley. I tried setting up a new company called 'Eboy' to sell the Feckers, even offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal, to no avail.
Pig in the Kitchen has the right idea - draw up a list of distractions, making time for yourself. My friends and I formed The Gin Co-operative to get through these years. We are still going strong 16 years later!

annie said...

Plug them into the playstation! I have a really boisterous 8 year old, but when he is playing with friends or ill I really miss his wildness. The chaos will subside and be replaced by another, more worrying chaos, teenage years!! Wine should come on prescription for mothers!

Hilary said...

Oh Wifey,it sounds like you have too many goodbyes in your life at the moment-relatives,friends,London,work,even Tony Blair!Be kind to yourself,it's really hard being a stay-at-home mum especially in a new location and with a house not yet ready.
4 year old boys are a nightmare-mine were no bother at the "terrible twos"stage,but when they reached 4-aagh!Twenty years on though they are truly wonderful.
Sharing some wine round your (pink) kitchen table with a few friends/mothers sounds like a very good idea.
Can't you persuade hubby to work in Newcastle??
Take care.

Mark O'Connor said...

Recently I sat, head in my hands, with similar feelings as you have expressed. Someone suggested this book, "Full Catastrophe Living" at a famous on-line book store.
The reviews reinforced what I had been told;
"This book is a way of stopping the world for a short time to allow you to get your breath back."
I'm a skeptic and never read anything like it before. But I now use the CD and book and can wholeheartedly recommend it. It may be worth a look :)

Meli said...

See, this is why we bought a house which didn't need any work doing on it. Not a depressing new build, but a big house requiring some cosmetic tweaking and no big structural work or plastering or anything which would make the house uninhabitable.
You're obviously not short of a bob or two, so what on earth possessed you to buy a 'project' when you are running around after a small family all day ?
Do yourself a favour and stop making life so difficult !

Meli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sunshine said...

To Daisy Turnip -- Yep, teenage girls are a barrel of fun, aren't they? At a "safari park" I once saw a "tiglon" -- cross between a tiger and a lion, with a personality half fiery and half placid. Having two, at the time, I branded my two teen daughters tiglons, as from one minute to the next I never knew which personality would have dominance!

Be of good cheer -- by the time she's 45, she'll be your best friend! Let's see-- that's only about 30 years-----

vodkat said...

Oh how I know how you feel my ten year old laying down the law of who does what, the eight year old trying to tell her sister where to go and the shortest route to get there while going red in the face trying not to use her full and varied collection of colourful words in case dads listening and the twins fighting over one pencil when the floor is covered in them. I tried fitting in he electric cupboard but the dog was in there hidng from the mouse the cat had brought in. And then the boys give me a kiss and a cuddle and say luv you mam and the girls make me a up of tea and read the boys a story. Kids I love them all. Love your blog by the way it cheers me up and brightens my day.

knifepainter said...

Hey wifey, sorry you're sad, sorry for your loss(es).

I'm sure you are not surprised to find that you 'aint alone.

I was gonna have a moan about issues here with my two, but it wouldn't help you, and I'm sodding bored trying to untangle domestic shite all day, without going over it all again here.

Deep breath, head back, crack on. You'll be absolutely fine.

dulwichmum said...

Dear WITN,

I have young children, and have days where I feel completely overwhelmed as you describe. I wish there was something I could say to help. I would have had plenty of advice for you before I had my children - that was my job then. I read Mark O'Connor's suggestion with great interest. I am going to try his suggestion, maybe you should too?

james higham said...

Never mind, Wifey - it will all come right in the end [and other platitudes]. But if you're serious about further than London, there's a very cosy little spot waiting for you over here.[She runs, screaming, back to the bosom of her family.]

The Grocer said...

Spaghetti can be brushed up, bedclothes can be changed it, enjoy it whilst you can you are a long time dead.

mimi said...

God, I totally identify and sympathize with you!Be good to yourself and make time for yourself, and thanks for being so open, many of us would not. Glad you met kind people in Ireland, but we must be a nosey lot over here, I'm trying to figure out where the lakeside hotel is..Mullingar? Killaloe? No, I've got it, Cavan has 365 lakes, so it's probable there!
BTW, my 10 year old reckons that Enda Kenny looks like a moneylender on his posters, and that Bertie looks too kind, like he's either looking at a baby, or pleading with a moneylender! Who to vote for?

lady macleod said...

13 May 2007

Nonetheless, Happy Mother's Day champ! Just keep breathing.

debj1 said...

Dear Wifey, The web page below has a lovely essay by Nicola Harrison which was broadcast on Radio 4 a few years ago. It puts everything in perspective...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hometruths/0303mother_time.shtml

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

This, too, shall pass. And you will look back on these days fondly when you knew where they were and what they were doing. Have a good scream, breathe deeply, pour a glass of wine, and remember that tomorrow is another day.

jane said...

Hi Wifey, hope your absence over the weekend doesn't mean you've actually gone off bang (or gone off anywhere in fact). Usually by now the "I CAN'T STAND IT ANY MORE" blues should have passed, and I hope you are beginning to feel a bit better.

Me, I could bite the head off a live chicken (Weight Watchers - how many points would that be?). I HAVE HAD A DAY FROM HELL. Nothing to do with children, for a change, but everything to do with the good ole general public, the NHS, the Royal Mail (grrrrrh!) a smoking shelter being erected next to my office window (non-smoking hospital but what the hell)a new computer system that's useless, being fat, wanting chocolate, not having chocolate ..... etc., etc. Nothing major, just the every day grind.....

Now its YOUR turn to cheer ME up.

Best wishes,

jane said...

May I apologise in advance for any offence I may have caused by my "live chicken" comment - it would of course be a dead, cooked chicken.

Sorry.

Elsie Button said...

i've just stumbled across your blog, and just wanted to say how lucky you are to have all these supportive readers - it's amazing! they've all said such lovely things. hope you feel better. does having children really get that bad?! i am worried now, as am just starting out (have a 6 month old daughter) and at the moment think it's the most incredible thing in the world, perhaps naively... ?

mutleythedog said...

I am sorry for my ridiculous comment - now you have disappeared... did the kids finally kill you??

Sally Morten said...

The answer isn't far away it's close at hand.
Have you had rats yet?
Great blog!