Fears of Being a ‘Bad’ Mom

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I consider myself an experienced mother now that I have three small children. I don’t freak out when they get sick, I manage to get them to eat a healthy and varied diet, and I’m almost finished with the sleep issues (although Ellie is recently making another valiant effort at trying to cripple me with her recent 1 to 2 hour-long, no-reason, wakeups at 2am — I will prevail!!)

So why do I feel like I am a bad mom? It’s all about that mommy guilt and I am a huge sufferer of it.  I actually do feel that I have several weaknesses that don’t parlay into being a great mothering figure.

First of all, I never really was a baby person so the three plus years of intense baby time that I have experienced has been a complete drudgery to me with the occasional glimpses of humor (like when I had three diapered children screaming bloody hell at the same time because of runny poo all over their legs and I was only able to change one at a time while the other two ran around contaminating everything in the room).

Ok, there is one caveat about babies.  Breastfeeding was truly a special experience and one that still gives me warm fuzzies when I remember it.

Second, I’m selfish.  I miss the days of doing whatever I wanted.  Going out to restaurants and movies, meeting friends at bars, having a career, sitting around and reading a great book, and just tending to my own needs.  This causes me to now seek alone time whenever I can.  When the twins go down for a nap, I feel a strong desire to get on the computer and browse my favorite sites even though I still have my oldest, Will, clamoring for attention from me.  It is so hard for me to muster up some creative energy for him and that is something I really want to change.

Third, I find there are more stresses and unpleasantness than there are joys right now.  I see moms around me and I know moms who say “Oh, I love being a mom!”.  I certainly DON’T love it.  I do find special moments when my heart swells with love and gratefulness for my children, but right now I have to say that the pendulum is swinging to the “Not Fun” side of motherhood.  I keep getting reassured that this will change as they get older.

Finally, let me say I adore my kids and I am fiercely protective of them.  I wouldn’t change my decision to have them but I worry that my issues make me a less than perfect mom.  I strive to improve these weaknesses day by day.  Is there anyone else out there that has similar feelings?  Please share and make me feel less like a failing mom!

Sleep training follow up and a rant about British mums!

Just to update everyone regarding my last post, it’s now been two weeks of the sleep training and it has been much less painful than I expected. Ellie wakes once or twice before midnight but afterwards sleeps through until about 5:30 a.m. My strategy was to let her cry for 5 minutes before checking on her and then leaving right away. Then I let her cry 10 minutes, etc. I never had to go past the 10 minute cry point, thank goodness! And amazingly, her twin brother didn’t wake up once during this process. Getting up at 5:30 a.m is another issue. With the days getting longer I have a feeling that 5 a.m. is going to be a regular wake up time for me, ugh! Additionally, my oldest child has been waking in the night a lot lately due to night terrors/nightmares so I am still not well rested. Can anyone tell me when a mum gets back to some regular sleep? How many years must I wait?

So, we all went to a birthday party last weekend for a 5-year-old friend of Will’s. It was held in a church hall and had about 15 kids. When my husband and I arrived the first thing we noticed was all the mums (weirdly, there were only mums there and this was on a Saturday) were sitting on the stage at the one end of the hall lined up like a bunch of birds on a wire, watching their kids playing different games with the host and hostess at the other end of the hall. Naturally, Jason and I walked our kids over to the other kids and then we participated in, helped with, and sat nearby the activities. I kept glancing over to the mums and they just kept sitting there even when a pinata was brought out and the kids lined up to take their turn with it. Let me emphasize that this hall was rather long so they were quite far away. I just don’t get it! Why wouldn’t you come over, take some pictures, talk to the hostess who invited you, and be involved with your kid? Apologies to my British readers but this is just another typical example of British coolness and disinterest. I couldn’t believe it! Then it was lunch time and all the kids were to sit down at these little tables and not one mum got up to either assist her child or to offer the hostess any help. Correction, there was one mother who came a little later and did help and socialize, but she was Nigerian! So the Nigerian and the Americans helped the Mexican hostess while the 8 British mums did not once remove their asses from the stage during a two-hour party. Typical.

Tonight’s the Night!

I have just had the two worst weeks in a long time. Now I am going to sound like a spoiled brat but here goes — my nanny was sick all last week (did I mention that I have a nanny who works from 9 – 3pm every weekday)?  That was the kicker to a monumentally bad week that made me feel like a worthless, inept, and totally alone mum.

Then add the following:

  • having to start a school run in the morning and trying to get the three kids fed, dressed, and out of the house by 8am on my own,
  • my husband working late every night and having to go away on business Friday through Sunday,
  • getting a major snowstorm in the middle of the week so that I was stuck at home entertaining the kids for a couple of days on my own (school was not cancelled amazingly)
  • still getting woken up at a minimum of 3 times a night but up to 10 times a night by mainly my 17 month old daughter and sometimes the other two.

I was completely miserable and despite having lived here almost five years, I had no one I could talk to.  Now some of this is definitely my fault.  Being shy by nature, it is hard for me to initiate and sustain conversations with the already reticent Brits.  Also, every year we have lived here, we have moved house due to various circumstances so that we have not had the time to really get to know people in an area.  I even broke down sobbing to William’s headmistress who I barely know although she was terribly sweet to me.  So life sucks right now because I have no close friends to talk to besides my husband (who is my best friend but works long hours in order to support his brood).

I started this blog a couple of weeks ago thinking that the worst was over.  It’s now February and I’m more exhausted than ever because my nights have been so bad with my daughter Ellie.  So I have decided that tonight is the night I am going to start sleep training a la Ferber method.  I know everyone has an opinion on this but when you are getting up 8 times a night or more, letting your child cry feels a little like payback.  Yes, I know that isn’t a nice thing to say but  I have no qualms about that.  However, I am feeling a little guilty about letting her twin brother suffer however long this takes.  I could move him out of the room but I don’t feel like it will be good for him OR her.  He won’t like the new environment and she won’t learn to sleep in her normal situation.  So tonight, I’m going to let her cry 5, 10, and then 15 minutes and see how it goes.  She is terribly stubborn (gets it from both sides unfortunately) but I’m motivated even though I am already feeling like the walking dead.  Can’t get much worse.  Will let you know how it goes once I am able to raise my head out of the chaos of crying and sleeplessness.

Babies Are Bad For Your Marriage

I am hoping this will change once the twins are a little older but I do think that having babies is the worst thing you can do for your marriage! Let’s recap the progression of my relationship with Jason:

1996 – We meet and are instantly attracted to each other but are dating other people.

1997 – We spend the last year flirting outrageously and finally get together after ending both of our previous relationships.

1998 – 2003 – Terribly sexy and fulfilling relationship. He’s the one. Can’t imagine life without him.

2004 – We get married!

2004 – 2006 – Married life is good. Enjoy big cities as a young married couple. Deal with usual small issues but all is good.

2006 – My first son is born.  Life changes dramatically.  Sleep is a huge issue and I do not deal with it well.  Lots of sniping with husband.

2007 – Things get a little better but there is no more time for “us”.   Life with one child seems overwhelming, especially in London with no family around.

2008 – The twins are born.  We look back at life with one child as the good life.  All hell breaks loose.  I never sleep a full night again.  I am a wreck and I do not treat my husband well.  (He is no angel either).

2009 – Things do not get better.

2010 – I am terribly hopeful that my husband and I can ‘rediscover’ each other.  It seems like I am just trying to get through each day.  I shower my babies with love but there is not much leftover for my husband.  Some days I think how different our life would be if we didn’t have three children under four years old.  How do people keep marriage alive with small children?? I have become such a grouch and he is not much better.

My advice to newly married couples:  Wait to have children!