I never thought being a mother would be so hard. I mean to the point that there are moments I regret having had kids. All in all I am sure I won’t when they will be older and out of the house, living their own lives and connecting with us time to time, but in this precise moment that I feel so overwhelmed I do.
Maybe what I will regret when they are older, after being totally immersed with them 24/7 and resenting feeling totally drained by motherhood (emotionally and physically), when they will be teens and they won’t want to stay with me anymore all of a sudden, then I will terribly miss them and curse them to have poisoned me with an addiction to cuddling, speaking and taking care of them so much, much more than I would have had time left for myself every single day for 15 years.
What is obvious to me right now is that I am absolutely incapable of giving them constant unconditional love. I tried everything: parenting courses, therapy, codependents fellowship and recently meditation. When I have lost all energy, patience, any distraction tool or reasoning argument, I become verbally aggressive and yes violent, I cannot control smacking them or pulling them into their time out space. I basically emotionally abuse of them at that point: the message in that moment is ‘it is not OK to protest or be moody – mummy does not love you when you are (horrible!) like that’. And I physically violate to some extent their space and body with the smacking and pulling.
I know I do it (the abuse) as I heard of its definition so many times working through my childhood stuff at meetings or in sessions. When we were kids or our parents were little, that was considered normal parenting but nowadays people easily label you as bad parent if you loose it, and anyway I have learned for myself from my own journey how I felt when I was emotionally or physically abused as a child, so I do believe something needs to change. However tonight I have the impression I am totally unable to break this chain. I say so as I feel extremely low right now, but maybe it is not possible to totally break the chain and in days I fail like today, I forget I am already doing my best and that’s OK. I am a good enough mother, one day at the time as they say, pray and don’t be too hard on yourself.
To justify my failure days I could say I had a narcissistic mother and missed the unconditional love I am trying to poor out of my flesh when there is none cumulated in my early years. I could say I had repressed memories coming back nearly a year ago about a potential sexual abuse of which I do not remember events but just extremely unpleasant sensations and a lot of shame, unbearable suffocating and toxic shame. Though I met people in fellowship and therapy who have gone through much worst than this, such as regular sexual or physical abuse of which they remember very well, it does not make them worst parents than me, all the opposite they want a different story for their kids’ lives. Or maybe they don’t really talk about when they struggle with them, despite you should be honest when sharing for your own benefit? I don’t anyway, so why would they, if they felt the same inadequacy and guilt around their lack of parenting natural abilities…
But also no one told me my kids would completely ignore me saying ‘I am unwell’, would not care whether I am overloaded and needed them to be a bit more patient or that they would literally show no respect whatsoever to my constant hard work for them or laugh in my face whilst suffering or explaining how disappointed I felt about their uncooperative behavior when I was struggling for other reasons. Where do one draw the line in this modern concept of being understanding towards their limited self-centered capabilities based on their age or justify their misbehavior depending on their emotions or unmet needs? Do we not teach our children anymore that we parents are human beings and that at some point cannot and should not take any more on board? And if we do so, how do we do it in an healthy way when you have asked kindly several times followed by time out techniques or treats of punishments without recurring in the end to scarily shouting at them or a smack on their bottom?
I was always so confident I would do a much better job than my parents did with me and tonight I feel I am doing much worst. It is true that they had an only child and my mum was a housewife, plus I soon got used to behave like an ornament as they expected from me: not to have too many needs, not to show too many negative emotions, to give them little troubles by obeying all the time and make them proud of my behavior as their own status quo. So they probably never got to as low as I have come tonight (not as far as I remember at least) that I have 2 kids constantly fighting, that I work part time and that I am totally crushed under their needs and negative feelings because I taught them every day it’s OK to express them.
In these moments I suppose I feel abused myself. I was emotionally neglected and was left an empty shell from my childhood and teenage years and now I have this desire to be a different parent but I was not cared for enough to now have the strength to survive this storm. So I alternate new methods such as apologizing, being understanding or talking about their feelings when they misbehave, with old traditions of hierarchy where I go mental if they don’t obey straight away just because I said so. I often catch myself thinking this is what I had to do all my childhood, why now suddenly the family I founded turns into a republic and everyone has their say? Who goes to work, who has legal responsibilities, who pays the rent?! The parent the parent the parent (shouting angry voice coming from the darkest place in my guts!).
Then I am finally separated from my kids (it’s the end of the day so they have gone to bed or my husband has come to rescue me from being in charge all day) and the guilt overtakes me: the idea that when I gave birth to them, when we decided to conceive them, we knew they would not be our property but they would be our responsibility (and it sounded so naturally at the time).
So if you are a CEO and someone is really out of line by not respecting the company rules you just sack them, the business is yours anyway. But when you become a parent, despite you are still responsible for your ‘family business’ whilst dealing with children that don’t understand the consequences to their actions, it’s forever and you take what you are given, that you like their personalities or not, their limits or not, their needs and struggles or not. With a big flashing sign on the shop window: We are open 24/7.
Of course when I have one of those nights like tonight, 99% of the times my kids didn’t let us sleep for few nights in a row due to nightmares or being unwell. Add that I have had strong flu symptoms with muscle pain everywhere in my body all day today. So I am physically unable to stop reacting to my abused/abusive instinct when triggered and they are also exhausted which factors extra irritability and little listening on their part as well.
Whilst when you are an addict for instance, you can choose to look after yourself knowing that you will stay out of trouble as part of your recovery by sleeping well as it is a must across all fellowships, as a parent it is not something you can choose, especially if you have just your partner (working as you do) to take over from you and give you a break. And often when you have a second you may choose not to nap as you need that time to meditate as part of your new parenting skills you are trying so hard to create within you from scratch, such as patience and strength to dominate aversion.
So when I say I regret having kids, I don’t say it just for me, I think of it for them as well. They love me unconditionally and of course most days I am a tender caring mum but when I unleash that anger, I don’t give them a better start for self-love at all. That makes me feel suicidal at times, because that’s how I am, a perfectionist. However I learned through my own journey that it is best to have an imperfect mother that shows up with her limits and weaknesses every day than one who fled deciding not being there at all as it was not for her, she had made a mistake to have kids. So it’s just a thought that crosses my mind for a few seconds as an unrealistic escape to stop the unbearable pain of them pushing all my boundaries and me hurting them in return because I cannot take it, despite I should be the grown up.
But even now that I write this I am terrified to be judged, I feel mothers out there that will read my post, they will comment horrified ‘How can you hurt a little one with words or with a smack when they have nothing to defend themselves?!’. I feel isolated as if I was the only mother going through such a dilemma, such disappointment of me giving in to the verbal abuse when I cannot take it anymore. Also because no one talks openly about those moments of struggle, very rarely mums admit to each other if they give in to some extent of ‘violence’ at some point.
Then I wake up the next morning after a good night sleep, and the light filtering through the curtains in my room seems different, the smell of my daughter coming to disturb my sleep is a welcome good morning salute. Half an hour later my son is pushing the same buttons as last night but I can hear my voice remaining calm, counting up to 3 and than confirming he won’t play with the IPad today for misbehaving. I see him cry and hear him shout in anger asking for one last chance, and as if this was not happening to me, still my blood runs slowly in my veins and I explain in a normal voice that if he keeps on protesting the punishment will be extended to tomorrow as well. And finally the argument is settled, without me having felt it was personal, with me being in a better place than yesterday, hence being capable of dealing with the same difficult situation.
That is when I realize tonight was one of those random nights.