The tale of the wound-up woman

It’s safe to say that by the end of last year I was a little tired and stressed out. I’m no different to anyone other Mum at that time of year, working and juggling school kids and end of year commitments and a toddler thrown in for good measure, you get the picture. I had been travelling a lot (so had some good amounts of guilt thrown in for good measure) and was over compensating on pretty much every thing. Trying to be the best Mum. Trying to be a good provider financially for the family. Trying to work as hard as I could. Trying to still keep the house clean and tidy, washing baskets emptied, you know, just the general “stuff” that women like me do year in, year out. It’s a tiring business.

I also recognised that this particular age for me as a parent of a child aged 2.5 years is not a good one for me. I scrolled back through my blog to another time when I recognised things being the same for me and Rob in particular and it was when Harper was about the same age. I think the combination of a toddler and me and my ability to cope with them brings me under pressure. The requests for strange things, an inability to communicate or be flexible, the tantrums, the sleep or lack thereof really doesn’t work well for me. At least I will never have another toddler to deal with again (ha! Teenagers here we come! I am sure I will be wishing for 38 toddlers in a few years time…)

Things were a little tense with Rob too. I had no time for him or us, by the end of the day I was generally so tired and over “everything and everyone” that I just wanted to escape on the couch with my phone and some of Andy Cohen’s ladies for at least 45 minutes without talking to ANYONE or do ANYTHING ELSE before collapsing into bed. There was no time for talking, or hanging out, I definitely had NO time for sex and generally I would get to the end of the day building up an imaginary tally of all the things I had done for everyone, without anyone giving one shit about the fact I did it.

Resentful.
Angry.
Stressed out.
And over it.

Sound familiar? I know I am not alone on any of this.

I started the holiday break out in such a desperate need for a break from ALL of it that I literally turned everything off (including myself and my high standards and exhausting expectations) and had a break from it all. And boy was it good.

God I needed a break from myself!

During this break while I was reading I discovered a pearler from Meshel Laurie in her latest book Buddhism for the Unbelievably Busy  which had some really great insights that I particularly connected with. See? We are never alone in our moleness!

Sound familiar Beth? That was me, huffing and puffing at ALL OF THE THINGS that had to get done, to my high standards that NO ONE ELSE COULD DO LIKE ME until I could collapse at the end of the day be cranky at EVERYONE because shit, I am SO tired. How lucky they are all to have me!

What a dickhead.

And then this pearler that I was like “Rob! READ THIS!”

“Since the birth of our kids, I’d become increasingly resentful of his failure to chip in with the jobs that I’d invented, and he was resentful of the superfluous jobs I kept inventing. He felt I was making more work for myself than I needed to, and then expecting him to share the load”.

That’s me, like every day.

I had some time and space to think about my actions over the last 6 months and look at some the reasons why I was feeling all of these feelings. There’s plenty of truth in some of that, for sure, especially for Rob and I and the way we have been communicating and treating each other.

I was cranky and resentful of everything he wasn’t doing.
He was frustrated at not being allowed to do the things to help.
He would pull away.
I would get angry at his retreating into his phone and not helping out.
Rinse.
Repeat.

Throw in the toddler tantrums and the fact that as a Mum to a toddler you are lumped with ALL of the shit to do with them. The shit fights that are created because they want you and not their Dad become easier to just put up with, so you find yourself getting up early for the 8,763rd time in a row, or not being able to leave because “MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM DON’T GO” or sitting on the floor of their room at night willing sleep to come. You know? It’s suffocating. And seriously resentment building and for me, has been the cause of most of my angst over the past few months.

Having the time and space to reflect, stop and have a conversation with Rob and openly ask for help because “I am not coping” and being able to put your hand up and say “I have been a right cunt to you” made me feel better. Both of us I’m sure.

I wonder why I find myself in these patterns over again. I have been wondering how I can be more chilled and flexible and how to be a less stressed version of myself this year. I think having the time to look at the real reasons behind the feelings, being able to self reflect and own up and admit to being a dick helps. Being able to apologise and ask for help certainly eases the load. Maybe old age and wisdom has a little to do with it too. I’m sure I wasn’t as reflective 9 years ago when I was doing this. AGAIN.

I wonder how all of us this year can be a little easier on ourselves and our partners? Remember that we are in this together, that there is no imaginary tally count or medal for who did the most things and remind ourselves that our kids certainly (well my big ones at least) don’t remember or give a SHIT about any of the sacrifices I did for them when they were toddlers. Remind myself to take the pressure and expectation off a little bit, have a little more fun, be less of a mole you know?

All good intentions that no doubts will be done and dusted by March, but geez it’s been good to stop, reflect, ask for help, apologise and make some positive changes and plans.

It’s got be a start right?

Anyone else been a mole lately too?
Had some epiphany raes about how to change things?
Got any tips on how to be all zen with parenting toddlers?
Or on how to unwind when it’s not holidays?

Comments

  1. Hi Beth

    Thank you for putting keys to blog post this morning. As I write this with tears running down my face as this has been me for the last 12 months also. I don’t have a toddler but mine has just turned 7 and I’m a stay at home mum that has also been an asshole with my husband. Always exhausted, feeling unappreciated and feeling that I have to juggle everything or I’m not holding up my end of the bargain and having everyone rely on me and not returning the favour.
    I have decided to make 2018 about me and my needs hopefully to make me a calmer and less stressed individual.
    Thank you for your honesty and just being amazing

  2. Yes!!! Oh my gosh yes such a mole. So bad. 😩🤦🏼‍♀️ Bring on 2018, and less mole-ish-ness.

  3. Yep that sounds familiar! I can’t remember how many times I sat on the couch and had a good cry out of sheer exhaustion and frustration when my three were the ages yours are at now. Still get frustrated now when everyone’s at home on breaks and my routine is disrupted. I have to remind myself that they live here too, lol!! Today everyone has gone back to work and I’m back in my good space. I’m thinking of taking up yoga to de-stress and become a bit more mindful and tolerant and get a cleaner!!

  4. Polly McDougall says:

    Are you inside my brain. I’m nodding and nodding along, and now crying because so much yes. I’ll have to read the book now! Thanks Beth xxx

  5. Loved this. I’m a stay at home mum with a verrrrry clingy 5 year old and I do 98% of the jobs with him, because I am home. He will walk past his Dad standing in the kitchen, to ask me for a drink!

    He was at preschool last year for two days and I can honestly count the number of days I used for myself – for exercise or shopping or lunch with a friend. I felt guilty for having time off which actually defeated the purpose.

    Then on 20 December I needed an unexpected surgery – just day surgery but it meant I was out of action. It was good timing as my husband was on holidays, but bad timing because it’s Christmas!

    But I can say it has done wonders for us all – they spent heaps of time together on boys only adventures while I rested. My standards around the house have dropped because they’ve had to.

    Today is my husband’s first day back at work and I’m worn out at 3pm. So a movie has been put on and we are having the classic CBF dinner of BBQ chicken and coleslaw. No one cares!

    Hard way to learn an easy lesson!

  6. This resonates with me right now. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly. I’ve just had a few weeks of being absolutely fucking frustrated with my husband. I don’t have a toddler but a 6 year old and a baby on the way (35 weeks along – eek). The less I’ve been able to manage physically (I have a few issues – GD and PUPPP rash), the more I’ve felt mad that my husband isn’t super thoughtful. While I do make valid points (seriously – he gets HUA – Head Up Arse – Syndrome despite being an otherwise pretty decent guy haha), I realised that my way of dealing with him was probably just making him want to retreat further (making him seem even more self absorbed). Which made me more frustrated and anxious. I was snapping and snarling and being a bit of a jerk. I finally talked to him and said, look when you don’t pick up on these cues or go that little bit of an extra mile for me, I feel unheard and frustrated that you aren’t noticing/appreciating/reciprocating some of the sacrifices I’m making, while your life changes hardly at all. I am getting resentful and I am sick of nagging you as I am sure you’re sick of hearing it and it’s making me feel MORE unattractive and useless to hear myself. I suffered a lot from post natal anxiety that went unchecked the first time around and your reactions towards me back then really didn’t help. I want to do better this time. I’m starting to get scared of it happening again. Please just listen more and act on what you’re hearing and we will both find things easier.” And what do you know, the next day was instantly wonderful. He didn’t hide in his phone or ignore what I needed. He checked in with me. He respected my wishes consciously. Let’s hope the next few months are better too!

  7. Di Challenor says:

    I too have been the complete mole of whom you speak 😌 No toddlers for me anymore, but high five sister I feel ya. I’m reading ‘Slow’ at the moment so I’m on a serious de-cluttering mission and I plan to start sunrise yoga down on the beach tomorrow. I’m hoping this, as a new weekly ritual, will keep me more zen this year – I’ve had a crazy 9 years juggling two small kids, two small businesses, and an ancient history degree (cos I don’t know) I’m never studying again! Well… unless something really interesting strikes my fancy…

  8. Yep. Such a mole. We were joined on holidays by friends with similar aged kids (all under 5yrs) and I saw them bickering at each other and it hit me with full force. It sounded SO familar. Nothing like seeing your own disagreements replayed for you to bring you to a frightening realisation that you need to ease up. Funny how easy it is to loose perspective when it’s your frustrations, exhaustion and emotions in the mix.

  9. Sex is so important in a marriage that’s all I’ll say there needs to be more people talking about this stuff- how we treat the one we with forever – and how to prioritise energy & mojo for eachother regularly!
    Go Beth!

  10. I am struggling to parent my youngest because she is a mad woman!!! Out of four children I have NEVER dealt with tantrums, whinging, clingy-ness or stubbornness like hers. It is next level & I don’t cope & then I beat myself up for not coping. So crap.
    All I can say is I start every day fresh & since she started going to day care 1 day a week a few months ago I really look forward to Friday’s because it is the only time I have to myself. It’s one day to be by myself, to refresh & miss my kids!

  11. Very relatable Beth.
    I wonder how you will do/be different this year? What changes will you make? What will you let go of and what will you ask for and accept help with?
    Cheers Kate

  12. Beth, when I read about your days (which I love to do), sometimes it seems like you are just hurtling through life. I know, as you’ve said it, that you like everything “just so” in the house. That will never change. Your work life seems to be a given as well. Maggie will not change much this year. Have you thought about having less social life and more down time? Maybe not entertain as much; save it all for family members and occasional girls’ nights out? That seems like an area that could have some give for you and not suffer, giving you more time to rest and relax.

    I wish a healthy happy year for you! Take care of you too, and maybe the rest will fall in place more easily.

    • Yes I agree – with this idea — not less entertaining for ever but for a season? This busy season of young children & work success.
      X

  13. I seriously hope you have an easier ride through the ‘teenager’ phase….. although don’t count on it…… I swear it is just as hard as the toddler stage but different. Enjoy the ‘Child’ stage. You need this stage to lull you into a false sense of ‘good’ parenthood before the teenager arrives with vengeance. LOL

  14. Sonia South says:

    Great read Beth. I was and probably to some degree still are a bit like you but I have come to realise that our household still runs perfectly on dirty floors, dirty bathrooms, the clothes not folded correctly when the boys bring them in etc. You will find your balance but it does take time. Don’t forget to also get the girls to help out it will help them as well. I have 3 boys, 11,14,17 and they still need to be told but they do help out with no pocket money. Oh and I know we don’t have enough sex- I will work on that!!

  15. I so related to this post!

  16. I wish all mums of young kids would read this. My youngest is 17 now and I love parenting 3 young adults! But I watch the mums at the end of their tether being so unreasonable to their partners and wish I could say I’ve been there, just relax, use your sense of humour, it will pass. I say at least twice a week I’m glad I’m not mothering little ones in this time of social media.

  17. So relatable! I just spent two and a half weeks offline, because the husband was actually HOME. But for the first few days we just grinded against one another and not in a good way.

    He’d been away for almost 18 months with the businesses and I’d been used to doing everything as a solo parent. And then when he wanted to catch up with mates for a beer, I kinda lost my shit because ‘ummm – when have I had a chance to do anything for myself in the past 18 months?’…

    But he too had been working for the past 18 months – and been away from us all and he too needed a break.

    I find newborn babies the hardest. Being the only one able to feed them. Breast feeding is isolating sometimes and let’s face it, no one gives you a medal at the end of it all. Fuck! I’ve practically been breast feeding for 4 years (three children) and most people don’t want you to do it.

    I find our relationship always seems to right itself once our youngest turns one and we can ‘share the load’ a little.

  18. Beth, you know you are not alone… I am so hearing you sister about the TODDLER situation… but I am through, I am in the light at the end of the tunnel and boy is it good. You just have to ride it out… you will be there in a couple of years. We are in the middle of a massive road trip with the 3 kids and guess what – it has been over a week and I haven’t lost my shit once (I don’t think I have) – long days in the car and not one shit lost. I am so proud of myself but it is the age the kids are at too. Clancy can now do everything apart from do up his seatbelt. It really is life changing when they can do stuff for themselves. So just hang in there – you can be a cranky mole but it won’t be forever. The light is there at the end of the tunnel. xxx

  19. Oh my, you are speaking my language! And the worst thing is, i mostly know all of this, yet continue to do the same shit over and over!
    This year im really trying to take a different perspective on things and my word of the year is REINVENT. Reinvent myself and focus on becoming a better, more calm person. Maybe being in my 37th year, im finally understanding a bit better.

  20. Relatable, which I think just shows that most of us are doing our best & everyone can be a mole from time to time, and life is often bloody overwhelming.

    Best way I’m now trying to look at life, is that what I allow to happen will continue. So if I continue to hold myself to these self imposed perfect standards then I’ll be up for hours later than is healthy getting my self imposed list met to make sure everyone thinks I’m together, I mean what use is that to anyone right?! We are no good to anyone because this just makes us ill one way or another. I try to apply it to all areas of my life, what impact are the choices I make going to have on me, how willI feel and so on. It all sounds a bit poncey I know, but it’s helped me to just stop for a nano second and think about why I’m making whatever choice I’m making and how that is going to make me feel. I also have laid off the booze during the week, and I have to say as lifelong fan of a good glass of wine or three, hands down that was the best decision I’ve made. Life is hard enough without trying to navigate it with a stinking hangover, which post 40 I’ve found is just so much harder to handle, like my body is telling me, just stop already!

    We race through life waiting for whatever our own light at the end of the tunnel is for us ‘when I get the next promotion at work’ ‘when the kids are teenagers’ ‘when I lose two stone’ thinking that then when that light comes we will all feel better. It’s a con, the light is in the now, and your so right that kids never remember all the daily grind or things mothers do for them. I know I didn’t because by the very fact that my mum stayed home and did all the grunt work, Dad got to be the ‘fun’ Dad, taking us swimming or to the park, no doubt whilst my mother stayed indoors cleaning something or just to knackered to come along or enjoy her time alone. Most of my fondest memories of childhood come from those times with my Dad which is sad because I know my mother worked her arse off for us, but you don’t appreciate any of that when your a kid.

    God that was a long comment, sorry ! Hope you find the balance that’s right for you.

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