Camping and anxiety

We took the kids camping last week. I wasn’t sure how my two princesses would cope being away from WiFi and electricity, but they completely surprised me! They loved sleeping in tents and cooking on the tiny gas stove. Even when we got caught in a wind storm and one of our tents got ripped to shreds they treated it like a huge adventure.

Losing one of the tents meant that all 4 of us had to squish into the same tent, which would have been fine if it wasn’t for the hail and thunderstorms, bucketing rain and howling winds. And the fact that our tent is apparently not waterproof anymore. A year ago I would have demanded that we pack up and go home as soon as the first raindrop fell, but I surprised myself and enjoyed the chaos. I didn’t freak out when we got caught up the mountain in a thunderstorm and had to race back down to safety, I didn’t panic when the tent collapsed or when all our gear got wet. Instead we all just kinda got on and made the best of it. Honestly, it was one of the best family trips we’ve had in a while.

I don’t know if it was being surrounded by nature, or the fact that I’m so well medicated, or that I’m feeling so burnt out that I just couldn’t be bothered to care but I loved the whole chaotic experience.

Parenting woes.

I have decided that my next purchase is going to be a pair of noise canceling headphones. Or ear plugs so that I can stop hearing the kids argue about nonsense. They will be the best of friends, happy in each other’s company when suddenly, all hell breaks loose and they start screaming and screeching at each other. And at me. Cause obviously I have to choose a side.

It doesn’t help punishing them, all it does is unite them against me. So I’ve started ignoring them, or even better just hiding away from them. Generally they sort themselves out without any bloodshed. Parenting is hard!

Another fun thing lockdown has done.

The kids have been in lockdown since mid March. Once of the things that this enforced togetherness has highlighted is that The Husbeast and myself have very different parenting styles.

Our kids are good kids. The are well behaved, respectful, kind, loving… like I said, they are good kids. But they are kids, they don’t like doing chores so they will do anything to get out of doing “work”. Before lock down, we had such busy lives that we all had our specific chores that we had to complete and if we didn’t do them, we spent most of Sunday afternoons catching up. A lot of things just didn’t get done, especially when it came to cleaning.

Since we’ve been stuck at home, I’ve spent hours in the internet reading blogs about how to increasing my productivity and decrease my stress. I’ve downloaded pages and pages of worksheets, flowcharts, checklist, all designed to bring order back into our chaotic lives. Needless to say, none of it worked.

The main problem is that I leave the house and go to work everyday, The Husbeast works from home. He closes the bedroom door and is glued to his phone and laptop the whole day. The kids have realised that he doesn’t check up on them as long as they are quiet. They have to complete their school work but other than that the day is theirs to spend as they want. I give them instructions and expect everything to be done when I walk into the house in the afternoon. I’m pretty lucky, when I leave work in DONE with work. No after hour phone calls or emails. The Husbeast is not so lucky, he still has to answer calls and emails.

And that’s where the conflict comes in. I walk into a messy and chaotic house and then FREAK out. If the girls don’t do their part, I have to complete their chores before I can start doing what I need to do. If they don’t pack away the clean dishes, I can’t wash the dirty dishes and clean the kitchen and start cooking and and and and … You get the picture.

So I’m upset cause I feel like I have to take on all these extra tasks over and above my normal daily work and the Husbeast is upset cause he feels like I’m calling him a bad parent and implying that he doesn’t pull his weight in the house.

When I ask the kids to do something, I tell them exactly what I want them to do (like clean their rooms), and by when I want them to do it. If I notice that they haven’t started their task, I will remind them of it. If it doesn’t get done, I will get upset with them and insist that they complete the task or I will do it myself while loudly complaining that it was not my task to complete. The Husbeast is different. He will ask them to do something once. If they don’t do it, he will ignore it. And that just drives me insane. He will see that something isn’t done and just leave it for another day. I have learnt, we can’t leave things till later cause we just wont do it at all.

There is no easy solution, we just see things very differently. We’ve started having little family meetings on Sunday afternoons, where we divide up the chores for the coming week. It’s not a perfect system but it seems to be helping.

It started with a dream

It started with a dream, I dreamt of a little girl running through my bedroom. 2 days later I had the results in my hands. I dreamt you into existence.

And then it started.

I read news reports about girls in a country halfway across the world, being abducted and sold into slavery because they prayed to a different god. Their stories filled me with horror. And then rage.

I heard about a politician who was trying to police women’s bodies, telling them that their reproductive rights did not belong to them. I became incandescent with rage. I stormed against the injustice that you might have to face one day.

The suffering of every woman became your suffering.

I will smash the patriarchy for you.

I will burn down city hall.

I will fight every injustice

I will claw my fingers bloody breaking down the walls that they construct to keep you down.

My love for you has no borders, has no end. I loved you from before your first heartbeat and I will love you after the last breath has left my lungs.

I will move continents to keep you safe.

Is it The Puberty?

The Puberty is a monster that lives in our house. It lurks under the bed with your lost ballet shoes and missing hair bands. It sneaks into your cupboards and hides your favourite T-shirt amongst your sister’s toys. It eats all of your “special” cereal, you know, the box that you insisted that I buy even though we all know that you have never eaten it in your life. And then never looked at once it was placed on the kitchen counter.

The Puberty took up residence in our house just after you learnt about it in Life Skills, one of your favourite subjects in school. It crept in and started tormenting your little sister with eye rolls and dismissive sniffs. It brought tears and tantrums with it, along with moody silences, acne, and overly dramatic retellings of the day’s events.

The Puberty is a snarky bitch. It mimics your voice perfectly and says mean things when my back is turned. Which of course you deny even hearing. But you do hear The Puberty. Your hear the nasty things it says about you. That you aren’t good enough. That you aren’t smart, clever, pretty, or thin enough. That you aren’t enough. The Puberty is wrong. You are good enough. You are more than good enough, you are you. And nothing can ever change that or take that away from you. When The Puberty finally slithers out of your life it will take all the bad things with it and only leave the good behind.

And that day can’t come soon enough.

Asking for help

The past two weeks have been hard. The part time single mom thing has really pushed me further than I thought possible. I’ve been drowning. Not treading water, drowning. So I had to admit that I can’t do it. I can’t be the primary parent while working a full-time job and still retain my sanity. And I didn’t know how to ask for help. I’ve never been good at admitting that I can’t do something. I’ve never been good at failing. Usually I walk away as soon as things become hard, I rather give up than fail. But failing isn’t an option.

So I started spiraling into a very scary place, full of anxiety and fear. It was the Husbeast that took control and made the doctors appointment. He went with me as I had to explain to a complete stranger that I was not coping, something that I hadn’t even been able to admit to myself. My wonderful GP took the time to listen to me and prescribed a short course of medication. He will only extend my prescription if I attend counseling sessions with a psychologist. For the first time since October last year, I was being heard.

I’ve attended 2 therapy sessions. It is honestly the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Telling someone the pure unvarnished truth. No hiding, no sugar coating. Just naked, painfully scary honesty.

And I don’t know how I’m going to do any of it.

Random musings

Some mornings are made for tea, quiet contemplation while the colour and flavour seeps into the water. Other mornings are for coffee, throwing instant caffeine into a large mug and aggressively drowning the granules, not even allowing time for stirring before scalding your mouth with the devil’s brew.

I’ve had a lot of coffee this week.

The part time single mom.

We’ve had some massive changes in our lives since the last time I posted. We’ve slowly restarted with our renovation, the Husbeast and myself have joined a running club, and I’ve become a part-time-single-mom. The Husbeast was offered his dream job, international travel and problem solving, all in one easy package. It’s great. It really is. He arrived home on Sunday and he’s already gearing up for his next trip. It’s freaken great. If I wasn’t so exhausted I would be smiling right now, I promise.

I’ve gained so much respect for all the single parents out there, it’s so hard being both good cop and bad cop. My biggest struggle so far has been trying to do everything. All the chores, the cooking, cleaning, laundry, dropping off, picking up, going to gym, keeping the kids occupied, going to work, looking after the dogs, wrangling the cats, trying to fit some running time in…. it didn’t go so well. It actually went better than I thought it would but it took a toll on me. I had lots of sleepless nights while stressing about getting everything done. I can’t help it, I stress about small things. And I hate feeling like a failure. Even if everything went perfectly to plan I would still feel like I let my kids down cause it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough.

I guess that will be my goal this year, cut myself some slack. I don’t have to be perfect all the time, I’m allowed to fail, I’m allowed to disappoint other people, I’m not responsible for the behavior and opinions of other people. Cause being a part time single mom is hard, and I’m only human.

Peace and quiet

It’s quiet here. Almost too quiet. It’s quiet enough that you can hear your own heart beat. It’s so quiet that my thoughts sound loud. I’m so used to noise: kids, cats, dogs, cars, birds, trains, people… it feels lonely here. I was fully expecting to get homesick but I’ve been so busy during the day that I haven’t had a chance to miss home. Being able to video call the kids before they go to bed has made the separation a lot easier.

The coursework is really interesting and I’ve met such awesome people here. I’ve only been coming back to the hotel close to 11pm each night, having long lazy dinners and going for walks through the town.

But then it’s time to go to bed. And the hotel gets quiet. And the room is dark. And the bed is so big and empty. That’s when the loneliness creeps in. I remember that I was excited to get away from my “boring life”. And I count the nights until I get to go home.

I’ve been writing about my week away from home over on Run Fat Girl, Run!