I suck at being a mum..

Excuse the pity party,  but sometimes,  I do.

I have way more good parenting days than bad,  but when the bad ones come,  they seem to overshadow everything.  When I say bad,  I mean relative to me.  I know my bad days won’t ever match up to what some people have to deal with.  I know that.  But I have only one life,  and can only report on how it feels to be me.

My bad days don’t last long.  Tomorrow,  I will wake up a new person.  I am lucky that way. Nothing lingers for long. This morning didn’t start off particularly bad,  but my eldest son was having a pretty rough day,  and my reasonably good mood dissipated as his angry attitude seeped into my consciousness.  My son,  like me,  is highly sensitive.  I feel what he feels;  and I am sure it is vice versa. He is the most beautiful and difficult child all rolled up in one unique, challenging package.  I love him more than life itself;  yet his being almost over-powers me at times.

He provokes and annoys everyone in the house;  then he gets hurt when we are cross with him. He calls us mean names;  then cries if we ever dare to say something he takes personally (which is pretty much everything). This morning, he told me to “shut my big fat mouth”,   which is just appalling. I know that.  Yet, strict punishments don’t work.  What is so much more effective is talking to him,  and explaining gently where he as gone wrong.  But, you don’t need me to tell you that being spoken to like that is not exactly conducive to having a calm conversation. Especially when you,  yourself, are sensitive.

Most of the time I am able to be the adult.  I step away from an escalating situation before it worsens. But, there have been times during the last couple of days where I have caught myself talking to him in the same hysterical voice he is using towards me. It’s hard being a person with such powerful emotions, who is also a mum. There is a constant tug of war between who I am, and who I want my children to see.  I sometimes feel like an overstuffed cushion,   with all of my emotions and feelings too big for the space they are held in. A couple of hard punches, and that cushion just bursts all over the place;  leaving the skin saggy and deflated,  and the contents scattered.

I know that something has to give sometimes. I do want them to realise that we are all human; all falling foul to life,  feelings,   and moods at times. But, they need a calm mum more than anything. And when I fail at that,  even just for a second,  it scrapes at my soul,  leaving it full of tiny wounds.

It’s days like this when I want to give up.  To run far,  far away.  When I feel I am doing more damage to my kids being around them,  than if I wasn’t here.  When I feel that I am just not cut out for this;  this is not what I signed up for.  This is not where I want to be.

Mummy guilt prickles at my skin.  Why can’t I be the perfect mum?  Why can’t I stay calm? These are questions I ask myself over and over.  On days like this, I see only the black;  I am negative, useless,  worthless.  My eldest is highly sensitive;  so am I.  This makes me understand him more than he understands himself,  but it also causes him more pain when I am unable to stay 100% in control of the situation.

For the first time ever,  last week,  I found myself telling my partner that I wished we had two children like my youngest. The love I have for my kids is equal;  it is cut down the middle with immaculate precision. Yet, it is different. The love I have for each one is different.  It’s also changeable;  one day big boy is my favourite,  while little boy does my head in.  But we can’t escape the fact that our youngest is easier.  So much easier.  He brings with him a feeling of calmness,  which soothes my frazzled highly sensitive self.  My eldest invariably brings conflict and irritation, which scours my highly sensitive self until it is red raw.  Nothing is fun when it is hard work;  and being around my eldest is damn hard work at times.

Ah.  A deep sigh.

The one thing I like best about being me,  is my resilience.  I mentioned on another post once that I thought this was a mum thing;  it makes us able to continue along our motherhood journey.  I know that tomorrow everything bad about today will be forgotten;  that my son’s smile will melt away any negative feelings.  I am fond of telling my kids that “tomorrow is a new day”, so much so,  that they quote it back to me.

I know that I am feeling down now;  but I also know it won’t last.

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The HSP Top Six

This post was inspired by several bloggers,  including  Dreamerrambling  who has written something similar,  and  Sensitive New World  who echoes a lot of my own sentiments with regards to being a highly sensitive person,  especially those that consider sensitivity a gift,  rather than a curse.

It’s actually not as easy as it sounds.  After over three decades of ignorance,  denial and conditioning,  I had often looked upon who I was  (pre-HSP discovery) as flawed.  I now realise this is so,  so wrong.  I am not flawed;  there is nothing wrong with me.  I am merely different.  Being different is so much easier to handle than perceiving that you are inadequate,  invalid,  defective.

Living as a sensitive person is not a bowl of cherries,  by any stretch of the imagination.  However,  neither is it all doom and gloom.  So,  I wanted to lift a glass in celebration of who I am,  and explain the top six reasons why being a HSP makes me a lucky,  rather than unfortunate,  person.

1. I feel.   Deeply.  This means that I laugh loud and cry hard.  It means that when my nine year old struggles with low confidence and self doubt,  I get him.  Really  get him.  It means that I suffer horrific mummy guilt,  but that it enables me to learn from my mistakes,  and much less reluctant to repeat them.  It makes me the person all my friends (and sometimes,  strangers),  talk to about their deepest feelings; they trust me.

2.  I talk.  I believe that the ability to talk about your feelings helps make you happier.  I think that men are more likely to commit suicide because they are not only unable to deal with their feelings,  but to  express them,  too.  Of course,  this is just the tip of the iceberg;  being highly sensitive is not a magic wand that can ward off all mental health conditions.  No,  I am not saying that.  What I am saying is that I believe there is a correlation between being unable to express yourself (for whatever reason),  and depression.  I believe that my ability to talk about my feelings makes me a happier,  healthier human being.  It’s undeniable:   I wear my heart on my sleeve;  but better on my sleeve than tucked under my jumper.

3 I care.  I care enormously about other people.  How they feel;  what they are thinking.  I am incredibly loyal,  understanding and compassionate.  I am so very aware of others:  you won’t ever catch me hogging the supermarket aisle with my trolley.  I believe that makes me a good friend;  someone you want on your side,  especially when things get tough.

4.  I’m careful.  Everything I do is thought out.  I consider every aspect and eventuality,  and then some,  before deciding on something.  It prevents rash purchases;  it helps me decide the right choices for my children;  it makes me feel in control.

5.  I love my own company.  Oh,  that I do.   I absolutely love it.  It means that I am self-sufficient and don’t need others to survive.  I sometimes think that if I never spoke to another human being (children aside,  of course) for the rest of my life,  that I would die with a smile on my face.

6.  I can spot a liar a mile off.  Whether it is my kids fibbing,  friends being economical with the truth,  or boyfriends being unfaithful,  I’ve always known.   I know when people don’t like me.  In the past,  I had often denied this;  tried to find some logical explanation,  such as me being paranoid.  I now know this is not true.  I now know that the logical explanation is the truth;  that they just don’t like me.

And there you have it.  This is me in a nutshell.  These are traits that make me glad,  truly  glad,  to be sensitive.  Next,  I may just write about the not so pleasant aspects.  But then again,  maybe I won’t.  Why spoil a good thing?

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Image courtesy of samuiblue /  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s my birthday, and I’ll dress young if I want to

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So,  I had a little,  teensy-weensy birthday last week.  I have now reached the grand old age of 47.  Cue trumpet fanfare.  Thankfully,  it doesn’t concern me that another year has crept up and taken me in a strangle-hold;   I am not the kind of person who worries about growing old.  No!  I don’t care.  Because,  although my bones may creak,  my youth  (in spirit,  anyway)  continues to soar.

No, the problem is not getting older.  My problem is not  realising  that I am getting older.

To start off with,  I have recently started jogging.  Okay, that’s not too bad,  I hear you say.  In fact,  at my age,  it is probably even admired.   The problem is that when I catch a glimpse of older women out running,  I never associate myself with them.  No.  In my mind,  I look like the young 20-something  who runs along effortlessly,  with the agile limbs of an impala,  raising not one drop of sweat for her troubles.

Positive thinking?  Or,  downright delusional?

Well,  considering that  in reality,  I know that I resemble a puffing,  tired,  crimson-faced elephant more than I do an impala,  I think we can say that it veers more towards the delusional.

I don’t want to be the wizened old crow standing at the bar in her leopard-skin mini-dress, imagining  that she could give Rihanna a run for her money.  Or holding onto a bottle of tequila while her peers are holding on to their Zimmer-frames.   Yet, at the same time,  I am not quite ready for granny-jeans and comfy shoes.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t about vanity.  This isn’t me thinking that I am still super-fabulous. This isn’t about me wanting to be super-fabulous,  at all.  This is about me being seemingly unable to picture myself as a 47 year old.  That is,  until I catch an unsuspecting glimpse in the mirror and see my mum’s face staring back.  Then,  boy,  it’s undeniable.

Another thing that is undeniable are photos.  Ever looked at yourself in a picture and thought “that’s not me”?  I do it all the time.  So does a friend of a similar age.  When going out for a night on the town,  we both look in the mirror and think we look great.  Then,  when we see photos of the night,  the reality is harsh;  we realise that we didn’t look quite as amazing as we’d thought.  It’s kind of like a reverse body dysmorphia.

So, no. I am not worried about getting old. I just worry that I am starting to look ridiculous.

I want to buy a pair of Converse.  I want a girly pink or light yellow.  But, the more I think about it,  the more ridiculous I feel.  I have seen a cheap pair of Levis,  and I want them.  But,  when is it no longer acceptable for a woman to wear Levis and Converse?  If I was a celebrity,  I am sure these are not questions I would ever consider.  Sadly, I am not.  I am Mrs Suburbia,  from Every-day-town,  who is rocketing towards 50 like there’s no tomorrow.

I have long hair.  Another conundrum keeping me awake at night.  At what age should a woman snip it all off?  We’ve all seen older ladies with long hair;  and come on,  it ain’t pretty.   Long hair just looks wrong beyond a certain age;  but,  I don’t want a grey bob.  Please,  not a grey bob.

So,  what do you do?  How do you dress age appropriately,  if “appropriate” clothes feel wrong for you?  Is it okay to dress how you feel,  regardless of how old you are?  Or,  should you get a grip,  face facts,  and stop deluding yourself?

Ah.  No doubt these are age-old questions,  deliberated throughout the generations.  I guess that I will continue in my jeans until someone throws a pair of elasticated nylon trousers at me.  Then, and only then,  will I reconsider.

 

 

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Words. Don’t come easy, to me….

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I’ve got writer’s block.

 

For four consecutive days, I have written posts that, had they been written on paper, would have been screwed up and thrown with vicious force across the room. Some were a few lines long; others were just about ready for publishing, but all went down the plug-hole with a quick tap on the delete button.

 

I have tried to write about my kids, my feelings, Miley Cyrus; you know, all the important things. But nothing is happening. It doesn’t flow. Everything I write is boring. And, let’s face it, if it is boring me to the point where gouging my eyes out would be a better alternative than having to read one more word; then, hey, it ain’t doing a lot for my readers (all two of them).

 

It doesn’t help that old blog envy is resurfacing again (again? When did it ever leave?). Everyone, everywhere, is producing ingeniously hilarious work, or words so full of emotion that they literally leave a gaping hole where your heart used to be. All this, completely in their stride; not so much as a hint of heavy breathing, nor a drop of sweat on their totally unfurrowed brow. Why is it so easy for them, and so hard for me? What did they ever do that was so great? Apart from write blogs that I wish were mine, that is.

 

Goodness, and here’s me wondering why my motivation has run screaming towards the nearest exit.

 

In my head, my words sound so amazingly descriptive, bursting with humour or emotion; they still sound pretty good as I am typing them. So, what the hell happens between then, and when I read them? Because, I tell you, the words in my head do not correspond to the ones I read. Does a word-troll jump in and re-arrange them just to piss me off? What is that all about? Is it a recognised phenomenon? If not, perhaps we should invent one. Write up a Wikipedia page. Oh, hang on. Is there any way we can get around the writing bit? Not going down too well in these parts just now. What should we call this phenomenon? How about: “I think I am shit hot, when really I am just shit”. Yeah. That’ll work.

 

Perhaps I am getting it all wrong. Perhaps I need to stop reading my work back. Yes, maybe I am on to something. I could just bash out a post, and publish. Ta-da! Okay, I need to stop this now. I am just about to give myself a heart attack here. Not read back? No editing? Not going to happen. Most of the time I spend writing my blog posts is in the editing; over, and over, and over again. If I posted my first draft, people would stop reading after the first three words; or report me to the I’m-a-crap-writer police. I’d serve heavy time for my crime, for sure.

 

I know you can’t force the issue. I know.

 

And actually, writing about not being able to write, is oddly motivating. Like, if you are writing about not writing about something, you are not really writing at all, so therefore it doesn’t count. I will have to remember that one in the future.

 

 

Who lifts you up?

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I saw the above quote flutter through my FB feed, and I thought: yes, how true.

 

Then I thought: actually, do I have people in my life that lift me up? Not literally, obviously, or else the hospital would be littered with broken backs. But seriously, is there anyone who makes me feel worthwhile, needed, appreciated, or loved? And the sad answer is: no, not really.

 

There are moments in my life where things happen and I feel appreciated, but these are few and far between. The kids will tell me that they love my cookies or muffins. My partner will tell me that the meal was tasty. However, when I think about it, often their words are rarely offered spontaneously. Instead, they are generally muttered in polite response to my prompt asking them if they are nice.

 

Nobody tells me I am beautiful, that I look pretty today. In fact, my kids think it is hilarious to call me fat-bum (and they are being honest, not mean). Nobody nourishes my spirit. Nobody feels it necessary to check to see if I am okay; if I need anything.

 

It must be nice having someone who lifts you up. Someone who waters and tends to your very being, cultivating it as though it were a precious flower, allowing it to grow strong and beautiful and tall. It must feel special to know that someone wants to embrace everything that makes you, you, without wanting something in return for themselves.

 

So, what happens to those of us that don’t have someone to lift them up? What happens to our self-esteem, self-worth and self-belief? Well, it can flounder; that’s what. I have always struggled with low self-esteem, am hyper-critical, have doubt in who I am, and my abilities. It’s people like me who need an up-lifter more than others.

 

You see; I do it. I do it for others. I know they need encouragement, praise, comfort and compliments. I do it instinctively, because I know what they need, because that’s what I need. So, why don’t others do the same? This is a question I struggled with for most of my life, and the answer always used to be the same: because they didn’t care about me. Their failure to see what I craved to the core of my existence was just that: their failure.

 

However, I know now that this is wrong. This is not true. This is not about them not liking me, not wanting to make me happy. Most people behave in a way that feels complementary to who they are; it would be absurd and arrogant to expect them to behave in any other way.

 

So, the change in perspective; the reason for the about turn? Well, partly due to maturity. As you grow older, you well, grow. You become more comfortable in your own body (which I find so hilariously ironic: I hated my skinny, toned 20-something body with a passion, yet love the saggy, wrung-out mass of skin I am left with today!). This is partly it. But the biggest self-revelation has come through realising that I am a highly sensitive person. That knowledge has cleared my mind of so many uncertainties, issues and self-doubt; produced a light-bulb moment with enough wattage to supply Times Square.

 

Now, I no longer feel the odd-one out; actually, scratch that. I do still feel that way, but now it makes sense: there is a biological reason for my oddity, my insecurities, my social cravings. There is a reason why my needs were so blindly missed by others; why I never felt nurtured, or needed. I realised that the way I think and feel is not the same as them, and in doing so, has offered me a huge amount of clarity, and relief. A relief that flows through me, allowing me to believe that perhaps they do care, just don’t feel the need to show it in a way that makes sense to me. In fact, it isn’t that at all: they don’t know how to show it in a way that makes sense to me.

 

That’s definitely a-weight-off-shoulders moment, if ever there was one. I am accepting of who I am, and accepting of who they are. We are meeting at the middle; not always squarely, but meeting none the less.

 

And that makes me feel good about myself. I don’t need someone to lift me up; I can do that all on my lonesome!