Perfect one day…totally sh*t the next

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Day two of the 28 Day Scream Free Challenge. Day one was a glorious day of parenting perfection. Day two I was in tears by 8:30am. It hasn’t helped that I’ve been in a pit of non-specific viral infectitude for the past 6 days and every muscle and bone aches like I’m a hundred and ninety nine. Given that I am sick, I have also not been in any state for my nightly sanity restoring glass of wine. It’s been a challenge, to say the least.

I gave a great deal of thought to the day one email, sent by Jackie Hall, author of The Happy Mum Handbook and instigator of the 28 Day Scream Free Challenge. It explains how stress arrives when your reality and your expectations don’t meet. How we ‘should’ all over the place and cause ourselves no end of parental angst. I’ll explain. My ovaries shouldn’t have made two eggs that day. Three children simply should not have tantrums all at once, it really isn’t fair. Twin one should damn well lie still when I’m trying to change him so the both of us don’t end up caked in faeces when I’m just trying to do the guy a favour. As we speak, twin two should stop fake crying and go to sleep. Should, should, shouldn’t, should.

It’s classic Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and it really does make sense. If you can get your head around the idea that you’ve gotta stop fighting what isn’t and go with what is. Herein lies the crux of my painful personal journey into parenting three boys. This is not the reality I planned. This life I’m living is very, very far from the one I planned in my head about 7  years ago when I began marital bliss with my now partner in daily trench combat (with managing three under 5, not with each other). I planned a life of relative financial freedom, travel, kid (or two, yes, maybe), freedom from cars and enjoying the simple things like being able to open the windows without fear that someone will fall or launch themselves out. And then those damn ovaries had to go and get overexcited on my ass.

Our life now? We don’t open the windows, we have toddler gates everywhere, we have doors tethered shut, garden beds fenced off, steps boarded up, remotes hidden up high, a permanent layer of food on the floor, a relentless state of uber readiness for anything and a thorough enjoyment of a sit down that lasts for anything more than two and a half minutes. It’s killing me. But it’s not killing me because it is (because another person in the same circumstances could quite possibly consider themselves in heaven), it kills me because of what I expected it to be.

The key to my personal state of zen and a scream free life requires a total acceptance of where and who I am. I need to embrace, with abandon, this life. Stop wishing it to be something else, easier, quieter, whatever. It’s a tough ask. I’m stubborn, and this hurts sometimes. I know if I stop fighting things will be easier, I do know that. I have moments of it and they’re usually great. Maybe if I try to just have one more moment than I had yesterday. That’ll get me there in the end. But will it be too late? Will my boys remember a mother who was just trying to survive it all, or one who loved them, every bit of them, with abandon?

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9 responses »

  1. Surely this is the zen of life: acknowledging the reality and dealing with it. I’m taking a stab that this is an awful lot harder than it sounds though. I’m not particularly enjoying aspects of my reality either – so let us support each other in the ways we can.

  2. It is true, it is always those “why won’t they do x, y, z” or the “shoulds” that start in my mind that then leads to the stress. It isn’t easy but being aware of it is a big step.

  3. Oh Tracey I totally agree – reality and expectation are a problem for me too. Much as you try and talk sense to your brain it refuses to budge the expectation that ‘I should love being at home’, ‘ to anyOne else he’d be a dream baby’, ‘he shouldn’t be catnapping, what have I done?’… But that’s just my whinge. This blog and sharing with others I hope helps your stress, even if it isn’t going to solve anything long term. I’m happy to chat anytime – even if in a different situation with underachieving ovaries n all;-)

    • Another hard one for me is that I ‘should’ thank my lucky stars as I personally know people whose baby journeys have ended tragically. I always have that voice in the back of my head saying ‘what about those people who would kill for your blessings?’

  4. “you’ve got to stop fighting what isn’t and go with what is”….love the sound of that! I do believe in ‘choose your battles’. I just find it hard sometimes because i think there is a fine line with ‘going with what is’ and allowing my girls to do whatever they want to avoid a conflict. At the end of the day i want to have well mannered, well behaved children (like most i’m sure) but sometimes they just have to do what they are told (i have the stubborn gene too). Being a stay at home Mum was always my plan but there are certainly days when trying to be a good Mum blow up in your face!

    • When I say ‘stop fighting’ I mean to stop fighting myself and the life I am in. I still lay clear boundaries for my boys and we don’t back down to avoid a fight. We know how easy it would be many times to cave in and avoid a tanty but we never allow our kids to get what they want by throwing a hissy. Thankfully our oldest is showing signs that he is growing up to be kind, well mannered and a simply fantastic human being.
      Thanks for reading Donna!

  5. Hey trace
    Have recently tried to embrace this exact same mantra – much easier to do after having a blissful day off when my beautiful husband looked after the little one for the whole day! But I have found it to be so true – if I expect there to be night wake ups then when he actually sleeps thru its a beautiful surprise rather than just what should happen. But I’m also trying to find the balance between not having too high expectations versus going to the absolute opposite – that being to ‘expect’ that everything will be hard coz when I do that it has a similar effect on my psyche.

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