Friday, 27 November 2015

The Week I Lost My Laughs

I started this blog because Oliver has always been a challenge. From day one he just didn't act the way other parents told me their children acted. He fed constantly and had a temper from birth. As he grew in to a toddler and then a preschooler I came to accept the fact that sometimes I just can't work him out. Sometimes he's an absolute pleasure, sometimes he's a pain in the ass. He's hard to understand, he doesn't listen and nothing is ever straight forward. I embraced him for who he was. I found the humour in it all. I began to realise that I wasn't doing anything wrong, it was just his personality and as quick as a challenging phase came, it would soon be gone and he'd be presenting me with challenges in other areas. No matter what, I have always been able to laugh. 
I began blogging to share that experience and to speak to other mums who could relate to the temper tantrums, the cheeky comebacks and the strange behaviours. I wanted to normalise the feeling of utter desperation that comes with having kids and send the message that we're all experiencing it in some way or another regardless as to how a person paints their life in public. 
But this week I lost my ability to laugh. I was tired.
Behaviours that were undesirable but had a streak of humour in them had lost their charm and I was struggling to cope. 
There has not been one day this week that we have managed to walk home from school without Oliver crying, screaming, trying to run in to a road or being aggressive. 
He has been testing the boundaries to the absolute limit.
But in doing so he has been pushing me over the edge. 
On the way home from school today whilst in a lift with his friend he decided to get on all fours and "be a dog."
Although bizarre, this is the type of thing he does. I'm used to it. It's the type of behaviour that I would usually roll my eyes at with the rest of the people in the lift and then discuss it on my Facebook blog page and laugh about it with other parents who would respond by telling me the strange things their kids had said and done that day. 
But today I just didn't see the funny side. It was clouded by the sense of dread that was taking over me for when we got out the lift and had to part ways with his friend and continue our journey home.
My nerves were on edge, terrified of what he was going to do next. Was he going to behave or misbehave in the next 5 minutes? Was I going to be faced with screaming and tantrums all the way home for the 5th time this week?
He could sense it. He could smell my terror. 
How was I supposed to have any authority when my child could sense that I was afraid of him.
Because I was.
I knew the behaviours would eventually pass and I needed to be patient, but the way I cope is humour. And I couldn't cope because I had lost my laughs and I needed them back. 
I couldn't deal with the constant fretting and analysing "what's causing this behaviour? What could i have done different today? Why is he acting like this? Has something happened that I've missed? Is something happening that he can't communicate to me?"
My brain was tired from googling possible explanations for his sudden horrific outbursts, and methods to break the cycle. Time out, sticker charts, calm approach, firmer discipline, ignoring him, positive and negative reinforcement. Nothing was working.
And then I realised. It was me. 
I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I work full time, have stresses at work, have stresses at home. I'm intolerant. I'm snappy. I'm everything that Oliver had been for the past two weeks. He was reflecting my own behaviour. It wasn't him pushing me over the edge, it was me pushing HIM! 
I needed to pull back the reigns and take control of myself. 
This realisation hit me this evening. Whilst trying to settle Oliver in to bed I was clock watching. I'd done a night shift the previous night and was back in work again at 8pm. Desperate to avoid pleas of "don't go to work mummy" I wanted Oliver asleep before I set off. I lay down to help settle him and he started singing Hakuna Matata. My teeth started to itch. I was getting irritated. 
"Stop singing Oliver!"
BAM! That's when it hit me. I had just told my four year old to stop singing. I was making my problem his problem. I can't expect my sons behaviour to be consistent when mine isn't. I can't expect him to listen to me when he is acting out if I'm telling him off for things that shouldn't actually be a problem. 
I'm a good mum, but I'm also an employee, a partner, a friend, and everything else in between. Sometimes you just can't be good at everything. Sometimes something has to give. Is it possible that the something that has got to give has been my mothering skills? Have I lacked in that whilst trying to be the best at everything else? 
Although I love using humour within my blog in order to be relatable to other parents, it's also important that I'm honest. Because everything isn't funny all the time. Sometimes things are anything but funny. And if I want other parents to feel reassured that they are not alone and that there are others out there who feel in similar ways to them it's important that the message isn't always one of humour, but also one of despair, desperation and brutal honesty. Because sometimes that's what parenting does to you. That's what life does to you. 
I couldn't get my laughs back until I admitted to myself and to others that it's ok to feel absolutely shitty. It's ok to feel like you can't get through another day like today. And it's also ok to accept that sometimes life just gets in the way of "perfect parenting."
When you realise this you can start to build things back up and start again. You can stop analysing every behaviour and accept that you've had a bad couple of weeks. If your emotions & behaviour have impacted on your child that doesn't mean that you haven't tried your best, even if your best hasn't been quite up to par. 
You can accept that whilst you know your kid can be a complete asshole, you can be one too sometimes. We're not all perfect. 
Because that's parenting. It's laughter, fun, awkward & embarrassing moments. But it's also sometimes sadness, despair, exasperation and moments where you feel like you can't cope for one more second. It's never ever straight forward. 
And that's ok. 

1 comment:

  1. I have this conversation in my house all the time. My son Big Kiddo is the cutest most annoying little brat ever. I actually am annouyed most of the time, and find the humor maybe 20% of the time. I know that he is a mirror of how I am, but it's hard to break the cycle. I appreciate you telling us how its been for you.