It’s not been the best of weeks chez Battling.  Sending our youngest off to school has been a trial.  A week of unsettled tears from our 5yo hasn’t helped and at this point everything feels terribly raw, our emotions bubbling beneath the surface, ready to spill over with only the slightest provocation.

The only one who seems to be coping is the 8yo and he’s loving school, completely inspired by his teacher and really thriving.  At home it’s a different story and recently it’s been really tough.

We’re well aware that we’re making things up as we go along with him, and that we often get it wrong. We’re conscious of the judging eyes of those around us and this makes it harder still.  Earlier in the week I read this post about a mother who loves but doesn’t like her son very much at the moment.  It was a brave, heartfelt post and I could empathise with a lot of what she said. I commented and, in that typical fashion when you leave a comment on a blog you don’t know very well, when I read it back I instantly regretted what I’d written – smug cow springs to mind.

This morning I wrote this, it sums up pretty much everything I’m feeling right now:

What do you do?

What do you do when you’re floundering as a parent?

When you really don’t know where to turn for fear of making another mistake?

When your instincts are letting you down and lack of sleep and clear thinking are taking their toll?

What do you do when everything you’ve learnt feels wrong?

When the ability to reason departs?

When you want to be calm and considered but find it hard enough to keep your own temper, let alone teach them how to keep theirs?

What do you do when you feel that you are letting your child down?

When every day contains tears and accusations?

When the smallest things become volcanic problems and all escape routes are blocked.

What do you do?

What do you do?
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23 thoughts on “What do you do?

  • September 10, 2010 at 11:58 am

    What do you do? You realise that this parenting lark is bloody hard work and that, despite what it may feel like, you are not alone. Not at all.

    No one has a family out of a bloody E Nesbitt story. Families are wild, dynamic and unpredictable. In that way they are great AND sh*t at the same time.

    This time of year can be the most unsettling. Things are new and different, anxiety is at an all-time high from all quarters and that makes for an explosive mix. We all have parenting challenges 365 days a year, but every now and again it just feels like it all gets turned up a notch. Who hasn’t felt that at some point.

    All what you feel you are deficient in, you aren’t. All where you feel you are letting people down, you’re not. All where you suspect you can’t cope, you can. As was said to me just the other day, the fact that you care so much about it proves the point – you’re a 5-star good mum.

  • September 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Ooh, and I think it was me that said those words to HUN 😉 . Anyone that cares that much about what to do and where to go with parenting issues is not a bad parent. Bad parents don’t care about their children, neglect them and do awful things to them. You are none of those.

    We all make it up sometimes and we feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. Monkey has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion and yes, I do feel sometimes that I love him with all my heart but don’t really like him. Nothing seems to work and when you have your mother (who’s never raised a boy, let it be said) starts spouting stuff at you from the remove of parenting 40 years gone, it doesn’t help. I say keep trying because something will work itself out in the end.

    (And on the 8 yo front, if he really loves his teacher, is it worth talking to them and getting them on your side? Someone suggested that to me when Monkey was really playing up)

    Oh, and there is no shame in losing your temper once in a while. You are a mother, not a flipping angel. It’s allowed. God knows I do.

  • September 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I agree with the wise people above… 8 year old boys are a challenge (well I have a 6 year old one and he is so I guess 8 year old ones are too) and yes – I often lose my temper too. Let’s face it we haven’t been there done that because we aren’t male plus as far as parenting lessons go the eldest child is always going to be harder as everything is new because you have never had an 8 year old before.

    If it is any consolation apparently the behave at school / horrid at home is totally normal too (they know we will tolerate it better than their beloved teacher!)

    Maybe wipe the slate clean and plan something relaxing and fun as a family at the weekend and take time to regroup after a traumatic week?

  • September 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Hi Paula

    You know I know where you’re coming from. My answer to your question is this: when things are going tits up (for lack of a better term), go outside, breathe deeply (several times) and say to yourself: this too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass ….and if not, there’s always wine. I’ve been doing that quite a lot this week. Hang in there.

  • September 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Oh Paula, this really, really set me off crying again. You are a wonderful mum, the fact that you are concerned highlighs this. I dont know anyone that is a perfect monther, we give it our all and try, yes we try really hard.

  • September 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    What you have to do is just grit your teeth and tell yourself, that just like the sleepless nights and colic that you thought would never end, it does pas eventually. My three oldest children are all boys and had their moments, but the third ‘turned’ when he was about 10. I wasn’t expecting it because I thought I’d cracked bringing up boys by this time – you never crack it with children I find! He was different before he was born – being a breech birth – should have known then! He was particularly bad when my husband was away and his two older brothers had gone off to university (with hindsight, I think he could have been missing them and trying to be the ‘man ‘ of the house). He would throw pencils at me and my daughter (the youngest of mine), he would come into my bedroom when I was going to sleep and turn all the lights on. I sent him outside and wouldn’t let him in till he behaved, so he started throwing things at the windows. It was like mental torture. I asked him why he was behaving like that, what he wanted from me? Was he unhappy at school or at home? Was he being bullied or was he bullying others? I was practically in tears everyday at the CAB and having to give advice to others about their family situations – who was I to talk?! I think it lasted a couple of years and I have still never found out what was the cause. I ask him about it now and even he can’t give me an explanation. No-one else saw this behaviour except me and Katie, eveyone else thought he was lovely and I’m sure thought I was being neurotic and over the top! Just hang on in there, it WILL all turn out right in the end.

  • September 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Oh Paula my love. You’ve got me welling up with this post. I would imagine that we have all felt like that at times, sometimes a lot of the time. A lot of this hits buttons with me. What do you do? I think you try very hard not to beat yourself up when things go wrong. I think you ask for help and support from those able to give it, if you can. I think you just plod on in the knowledge that parenting it not always this difficult, but sometimes it is. It will pass. I think you try and look after yourself and tell yourself you are only trying your best.

  • September 10, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    You hang on. That’s all you can do.
    The thing that you learn as a parent is that you don’t always know all the answers, and also things change so quickly.
    So dig those nails in and just let some time pass. It will get easier my love.


  • September 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    For once I can look at this post from a distance that years can give you. I’m still stood up & just about breathing. Goodness there were some very scaqry ‘I can’t do this’ ‘please take my child somewhere safe’ times…..but I’m here & so is my DS who tells me he wouldn’t have it any other way!! I’ll look forward to your post in 20 years!

  • September 10, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Hang on in there – you are doing a great job and worrying about the fact you might not be is the biggest sign of that

    Fancy coming over and tasting my new sloe gin and see if that helps?

  • September 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Oh gawd, HUGS and WINE and CAKE xxxx

    Since you asked, this is what I do in Times of Parenting Crisis

    1. I listen to MrSpud. Don’t tell him though. Seriously, I am generally In Charge of our lives but he’s much more level headed and calm than me. So when the going gets really tough, I ask for his advice and I will generally listen. More so if he steps in without me asking for his suport (eg when my fish wifely ranting at the children had tipped over in to hectoring/bullying…him talking to me about it REALLY brought me up sharp).

    2. I go back to basics. When things are really dreadful, focus on the basics. Enough sleep for everyone (that includes YOU), good routines for bed, getting stuff organised for the next day the night before, eating well (including YOU) etc etc. I also junk ‘extras’ like playdates, teadates and cancel activities if I think that exhaustion/doing too much is kicking in. I think children need more ‘downtime’ that we realise.

    3. I get off the internet. It nearly kills me, but I do. I spend a lot of time on the ‘puter, and the iphone. Much of it for work, but nearly as much for pleasure. But when times are rough at home it means my children/my husband need more of my attention so I turn the ‘puter off.

    4. I try to isolate the problem. I’m all about the dramatic…’Oh I cant’ STAND this anymore’…’your behaviour is totally APPALLING’ etc etc. And then it just seems to big to tackle. So I try to think of the 1 or 2 things that I cant’ stand and tackle those. eg. my to be 5 year old (tomorrow) is dreadful at the moment, mostly tiredness from school and he’s poorly. But what I can’t abide is that he’s demonstrated, violently, what a bad loser he is. And that’s the nub of my ‘issue’ with him this week and it needs tackling.

    5. I have a couple of friends who are good listeners and always have sensible suggestions for problems, like being a bad loser. They don’t just say ‘awww hun, this too shall pass’ etc etc because, sometimes, that’s not enough. Sometimes we, as parents, DO need to intervene and tackle an issue. Waiting isn’t always the best way.

    6. Sometimes I have to remember that they are only 4, or 3…whichever one it is. They ‘seem’ so grown up and I think I often have unrealistic expectations of them. They are only little children.

    7. When it’s ME that’s out of control, in terms of my temper with them, I hve to imagine there is a camera crew with me all the time (um weird but it works). Amazing how you can hold your tongue when there is an audience around.

    8. I apologise to my children. It takes a LOT for me to do this, i hate to admit I’ve done wrong. But sometimes I realise I’ve totally overstepped the mark, and I will apologise to them. It wipes the slate clean and I hope it sets a good example, to negate what dreadfulness I’ve been engaged in 🙁

    9. I ignore stuff. I find this REALLY hard because normally I’m at them for every, single thing…manners, behaviour, getting dressed themselves, etc etc etc. But things are rough, something has to go. So I have to pretend I haven’t heard/seen some ‘violation’ or other..and just focus on the ‘biggies’ (for me, unkindness/physical violence).

    10. I drink more wine.

    Sorry that sounds soooo lecturing and I don’t mean it to be. I’m jst sharing what I attempt to do in our too often times of crisis. I can’t say it’s a magic cure, but anything is worth a try.

    Hugs xx

  • September 10, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    It is tough, good God is it tough. This parenting thing is way harder than anything else.

    Like the others say, deep breaths, wine and knowing when you need a break and to step away from everything for a bit.

    Big hugs – you’ve had a tough old time this week. xx

  • September 11, 2010 at 12:38 am

    This is such a good answer. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating as a mother as I only have one, and she still drives me crazy at times! I have used all of the techniques you describe, and will definitely C&P your answer for future reminders.

    P, I hope this is a passing phase! I am certain that it’s sometimes good for children to realise that they are getting on their parents nerves and that sometimes parents struggle too. They need to know that we are people with limits too. I think there is an emphasis to think ‘this too will pass’, but actually I think what happens is that as children move on to new stages, we initially freak and then find coping strategies and it suddenly doesn’t seem quite so bad.

    Love and hugs and its-the-toughest-job-and-all


  • September 11, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    What do you do? Such a good question. When #1 son was 2 I remember the utter, total, physical, mental, emotional exhaustion that numbed my mind and paralysed my body as I realised that I simply had no answer to the questions you pose. There’s an abyss of doubt that blocks every possible step forward. It’s the silent scream. It’s desperate.

    I couldn’t have survived without Her Ladyship and she would say that when she hit the same horrible times with #1 son and #2 son I provided some kind of support that made a difference. Somewhere, somehow, deep inside us we found a nugget of strength that pulled us through. And like so many parents we were lucky; lucky in our circumstances, our resources, our partners. There are plenty who face the challenge and fail.

    As I write now I look over to the young man that #1 son has become and am filled with every emotion I lacked then: immense pride, wonder, joy, curiosity and most surprisingly, calm. He and his brother are wonderful kids. Just wonderful. And yes, it has been worth it. Every single tear was worth it for this moment.

  • September 12, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I stop whatever I am doing and concentrate on myself. If i am balanced, everything seems easier to handle. (hmmm, I think I concentrate a lot on myself lol)

  • September 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I know you’re right, and returning to this post and all the amazing comments has really helped. Thank you so much my friend x

  • September 12, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks Kate, lots of very wise words. Going down the route of speaking to the teacher is a very good idea and something I deffo plan to do. x

  • September 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks Elaine – that’s exactly what we tried to do, and we got there…..albeit in a bumpy fashion. I guess as long as we keep trying then at least we’re moving in the right direction. 🙂

  • September 12, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Ha! I’ve got good at hanging in there lately – there’s not really an alternative is there?! I’ve decided to buy pear cider in bulk, just in case y’know? You hang in there too x

  • September 12, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I have one of those, an 8 year old boy that is. He is the one we make our mistakes on too and he can quite easily lose the run of himself. Luckily we are going through a relatively calm patch, but being perfectly honest, it isn’t because of anything we did or didn’t do. He just seems to be heading for pre-teens and I can’t keep up mostly. Not much help to you, sorry, just a show of solidarity. Jen

  • September 12, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I only have 2year old and he is hard work so I am sure an 8year old. But you are a good mum, otherwise you wouldn’t have written this and been worried in the first place. Just wanted to send you a hug xx

  • September 15, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I make a cuppa tea and have a sit down with a friend who can relate and make it all better. Hugs. x

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