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!

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Why are you staring? — Am I a spectacle?

I am getting really sick and tired of being stared at when I am out with my kids. Does anyone else have this problem or is this just an English thing? Here is an example:

I decide to go to the coffee shop with the kids which is one of the only places I can go around here with the kids that is indoors without going to a full-fledged restaurant. It’s pretty pathetic actually — that’s my little outing for the morning when I am really stretched for ideas with the kids and I am on my own. For those of you who wonder why I can’t take them to playgroups alone, you have to imagine trying to monitor my three kids under 4 in a room full of little kids and play equipment. It’s nearly impossible without one of my kids hurting themselves or someone else. So I usually have to stay at home on the days my nanny doesn’t work or go somewhere like the coffee shop where I can buckle the little ones into the high chairs and hope like hell my eldest, Will, behaves. Now back to my point…

I wheel my double stroller and pre-schooler into the coffee shop with some difficulty, navigating the door and a step with Will struggling to push the door open and no one coming over to help but lots of them watching (including another mum with a baby of her own — COME ON!!! Where is your mum solidarity??) So I finally get inside, get in line trying to push the stroller as close to the counter as possible so that people can get by while trying to rein Will in from bumping into people, grabbing the treats on display, and chattering away at full volume. Uh-oh, and now the twins start fussing because we’ve stopped moving and we’re in a stuffy room. I finally get my order and I scan the room for a table with space around it, and navigate around people’s tables to get to our spot. It takes me about 5 minutes to get everyone set up. Jackets off, two high chairs, push the stroller to the side, get snacks out for the little ones, get Will seated and eating his snack, and finally I get to sit down with my coffee. Ahhhhh. The three children are momentarily occupied so I scan the room. Right next to me I see an elderly couple and the man is openly staring at me. I glance away and a minute later look back again. He’s still staring at me and not averting his eyes!! I get distracted by fussing at the table, fighting among the children about snacks, the usual chaos, and I know my time is getting short. I try to drink my coffee quickly. I feel the stare on me still. I look again and this time I don’t break my gaze. How obnoxious — he won’t stop staring with a slight smirk this time!   I have to look away because the kids are getting restless so I get them ready for leaving — faces wiped, picking up food off the floor, coats on, into the stroller for the twins and Ellie starts to scream because she doesn’t want to get into the stroller. Right about this time, the old man who hasn’t stopped staring has the nerve to say, “It is only going to get harder” with that damn smirk on his face. I’m about to lose it because I am already feeling self-conscious and I’ve been desperately trying to keep everyone calm the entire time just so I could enjoy one fucking cup of coffee outside my house. Instead of snapping at him, which would probably play right into his condescension, I hold everything in and give him a sunny smile and say, “Oh really? I don’t find them any trouble at all. They are wonderful lively children and I love every minute with them.”  I feel really proud of myself for not giving him the upper hand.  Who would say that to a mom who is clearly struggling and trying to not create a scene.  Is that supposed to make me feel better?  What an asshole!! I pack them all up and stroll out of the coffee shop.

This is just one isolated incident but basically this happens to me all the time.  Usually without the comments thank goodness.  But everywhere I go people are staring and it usually is the elderly who are the worst.  Is having three young children so unusual?  My twins are not even identical!  Maybe there is something flamboyant about how I go about my business — who knows?  I just get sick and tired of feeling like I stick out like a sore thumb over here.

Three Friends in Crisis

As a woman about to turn 40, I am at a midpoint in my life. I find myself thinking about my youthful dreams and the paths I took.  I find I am surprised at how difficult things are for me right now.  I often wonder about other mothers and how they revel in their motherhood.  I adore my children but I feel quite alone and somewhat depressed by the day-to-day minutia.  It certainly doesn’t help living in a foreign country away from all my friends and family.  But it is more than that.  I hate to say this but I feel like I’m wasting time when I know these are priceless moments that I get to spend with my young children.  I think a lot of women from my generation who have been career driven, achieved multiple university degrees, and lived an independent life before children came along must feel the same way.  Especially as a stay-at-home-mom.  It is a very hard transition to make and sometimes I feel that I am just not a good enough mum to my children since I seek activities to free me up from the kids.  So I guess you could say that I am in somewhat of a mid-life crisis.

It turns out that two of my closest friends are also in crisis but for completely different reasons.  My best friend D is a divorced mother of one who is active on the dating scene but has an ex-husband from hell.  She has had so much trouble finding a stable relationship.  The ex drags her into court constantly even though they have been divorced almost ten years! He purposely tries to make her life miserable and I think he is mentally unbalanced.  My other friend K is a successful woman in finance and recently left her senior position so that she could focus on having children with her husband of 3 years.   However, she is having extreme difficulty and has been trying IVF unsuccessfully.  She is 40 years old like D and me.   It’s tearing her apart and she is miserable thinking about the years she spent on career when perhaps she could have had babies.  And now, with the IVF not successful, she feels completely useless with no career anymore.

I was joking with D that the three of us are like a Danielle Steele book:  the married, stay-at-home mom  of 3 overwhelmed with domesticity and feeling isolated abroad, the divorced, mom of one with the relationship issues and an ex that causes her hell, and successful businesswoman who desperately wants a child, has left her job, and is miserable with the possibility of being childless and now without a career.  And we’re even a blonde, brunette, and redhead!  I have the perfect title, Lost Dreams.  Three friends who lost their way. Hmmm, maybe I should write a novel — lol!

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 8:55 am  Comments (1)  
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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.