Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Up To My Oxters In It

I utterly adore my two fabulous children.  Even their smallest achievements give me an ache in my heart.  I love them to the moon and back and tell them that frequently.  I think that being eight years of age is magical and I wish that I could keep them at this age forever, or for a couple more years anyway.  I am thankful and grateful that I can bring them up in a country where they feel safe, are well fed, warm and happy.

… HOWEVER ! … I’m struggling to be a parent, a Mammy, a good Irish non-grumpy arse Mammy, right now.  Big time. 

I don’t write to get sympathy, assurance, or advice.  I’m just getting it off my chest.  It’s just between ourselves, okay ?  I wouldn't want people thinking I was a big parent failure.

It would be foolish to think that young children could get through the separation of their parents seamlessly.  In fact, it would be odd if they didn’t react to their little worlds being turned on their heads.  It’s an experience that I wish my children didn’t have, but it has been part of their reality for the last year or so.  Yes, it happens to lots of other people.  But it’s okay when it’s OTHER.  But, MY door step ?  Yikes.  Slightly morto for myself.  How exactly did this happen ?

Listening to a child howling and in distress at night, knowing that you are at least partly responsible for this, is heart breaking.  Listening to it for two or three hours is utterly exhausting and soul destroying.  I wonder how the little person isn’t worn out the following morning, because I am, but thankfully, there seems to be little memory of the previous night’s drama on their part.  Some weeks, it was 5 nights out of 7, but it is more of a rarity now.  Having said that, I usually have a child in my bed at night now.  Ah, yes.  Rules.  Out the window.  

Out of necessity, I bring the children along on housekeeping chores and also to a lot of functions, some being more fun than others.  To make up for this, I’ve spoiled them more than usual.  In some ways, this has back fired on me.  Firstly, it’s costing me a small fortune.  And secondly, instead of their usual appreciation and thanks, I sometimes get lists of the things I didn’t do.  Maybe they have sensed a new vulnerability in me ?  I tell myself that they are tired, I’m tired, but I find it hard not to feel hurt, like they are picking on me in the playground and I have no one to run to.    

Sadly, Poppy Cottage just doesn’t seem to be ‘home’ right now and I don’t know if it will again.  When the days are longer, I’ll claim my manky house and reclaim the garden.  Maybe I’ll feel different about it then and I can get the solace I need.  For now, I’m staying away as much as I can, on the road with the two and with the mutts on tow.

Over the last few years, I’ve explained to the children that my ‘personal space’ extends the width of outstretched arms holding a broadsheet newspaper.  I’ve drawn an invisible box in the air around me to illustrate.  The children understand this concept, but in the last year, as you would be expecting them to grow more independent of me, it seems that they are never out of that space, as if huddling in from the cold.  If I had tied them both by apron strings to my hips, they couldn’t be closer.  One of the children tends to walk right in front of me, both around the house and when we are out and about, walking so close to me that I often trip over said child.  My daily morning saunter out to the bins at the back of the house requires a detailed description of where I am going and what I am doing, although it’s pretty obvious where I am off to, with a bag of rubbish in my hand.  When we are in friend’s houses, they sit on me, or stand so close to me that I can barely get a cup of tea to my mouth. 

I guess that physical closeness and reassurance that I am there is what they need right now, but, boy, is it hard work.   (It can also make drinking tea a very slow process.)

A friend presented a theory to me, about my personal space and how she felt that I had set myself up for failure from the outset – She reasoned that my children don’t appreciate the scale of a broadsheet newspaper and therefore, are more inclined towards smart phones, thus immediately presenting a reduced scale of my personal space.  It sounds like I am doomed.  I should have used a shopping centre as an analogy instead.  Darn it.

My usual routine with the children is strained.  Gentle requests become demands, which become pleas and then, sometimes, I just give up.  The eight year olds win.

‘Go to bed. Now. PLEASE.  GO to bed. Now. Please.  Go TO bed.  NOW.  Please.  GO TO BED now. Please.  PLEASE. 



It’s 10.41pm and one child is still awake.  I sit now, as I often do, with the TV on silent waiting on them to finally drop off.  What I would give for a sleep wand. 

I’ve read a lot about guiding children through a separation, but nothing could have prepared me for living through this.  It’s pure and utter shite.  My dear, sweet, beautiful children deserve better that what they have at the minute.  It is improving though.  The many great days, outweigh the testing moments.  We have many little adventures and so much fun.  Laugh out loud stuff.  I can only hope that this will be what they remember.

I have dear, sweet friends, family and work colleagues who are guiding me through this, even if they can only hold me up by the oxters as I crawl through the porridge, wearing my red lipstick.    

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