Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Seeing Red

Anger. It used to catch me unawares, like a distant cousin who came to visit occasionally, unannounced. After these visits I'd sit exhausted, crumpled, wondering what all that was about.

Nowadays, it's here. It's shouting at me, in me, from me: the cousin has moved in round the corner, and pops in as often as she likes.

This alarming change seems to have come about a) since I stopped worrying so much about what people think of me and b), crucially, since Anna-mouse turned two. Desperately boring, but true: the Terrible Twos will have their day, even if you've been the best-ever-mother-in-the-world up to that point. It's another one of those conspiracy things people don't tell you about having children - like the pain of childbirth and what breastfeeding does to your breasts. Children behave appallingly sometimes. It's their job. Yours is to deal with it.

Which brings me to today. And how I didn't deal with it. At all. How, after an interminable morning of negotiation, bribery, bi-hourly reconciliations and stand-offs, I could be found sitting on our un-made bed, weeping into my hands, with a certain small person enquiring with disingenuous concern, Mummy, what's the matter?

Ah, Anna-mouse my child. One day you will understand the matter, the terrible, push-me, pull-me tension of the mother-wife-with-a-brain who used to do other things. Who used to be, you know, out there in the world, creating - well, creating other things. Only a few of them successful, if truth be told, in my case, but nonetheless they were thought-about, rehearsed, discussed, practised, creative things. None of them, categorically none of them, as extraordinary and life-affirming as the creation of the person that is Anna-mouse herself - but today as we hit stalemate for the fourteenth time over which pair of socks she would agree to wear, that was not the point. Today, the domestic was boring, and I missed my life.

The guilt - and the anger - which accompanies these thoughts is not inconsiderable. Worth living with for the rewards, but not inconsiderable. And of course writing here so frequently is upping the ante on this inner debate. It's the lack of thinking space from sun-up to sun-down that wears me down. This is the invisible factor in full-time childcare which people who don't do it, don't understand. Sometimes, like today, I'm mad with it, raging like a crazy woman between my gutwrenching love for Anna-mouse, and my desperation to be autonomous once more.

I didn't mean to make you cross, she said after I'd lost it over the socks. Of course not, I say, I know you didn't. She wraps her arms round my neck.

It's just Mummy, I don't say. Silly Mummy.



Richard said...

Ah Livvy,... it takes me back 20 years ago...can it be so long? I am sending this to my future sisters-in-law as they have small ones and it's so good for mothers to know they're not alone in feeling this...anger. I know I didn't know I had a temper until my kids were on the scene. Surely we should all be taught parenting at school?!! x

Livvy U. said...

Thanks dear R.
Yes, I used to be so 'nice'...! Hey ho. Life's more interesting this way. x

Cathy said...

Livvy, it sounds as if you need a break. Is there any way she could go to a nursery or childminder for just a few hours a week to give you that me-time? Do you have friends you could leave her with for an hour or two?

Oh and the terrible teens are nearly as bad as the terrible twos. Especially when your own hormones are wreaking havoc at exactly the same time as theirs. Bad planning on my part I think.

I LOVE your blog! Would you be happy for me to put it in the links on mine?

Livvy U. said...

Cathy you couldn't be more right! Yes, breaks being arranged.
And re. the link? I'd be absolutely honoured.

Sue said...

I'm sure that when you give birth there are a few redundant hormones that are kicked into gear.

The guilt hormone that strikes with EVERYTHING you do.

The cry hormone that strikes with EVERYTHING you do.

The 'What the hell am I doing?' hormone that strikes with pretty much every decision you have to make as a parent.

Take heart from the fact that you are not alone Livvy. And tomorrow will be a different set of emotions.

But remember above all the one thing that is constant, the massive amount of love you and Anna-mouse have for each other.

Oh and I won't even comment on the anonymity feeling. Been there and got the t-shirt.. :-)

Take care.

Sue x

Livvy U. said...

Sue - welcome, thanks for reading. And for your wise comment; you've obviously been through every stage in the book! You're right, though: the love's the thing.