I have a major truth bomb for you, and I am relieved that I am not the only one to feel this way to be honest. We’ve all heard that parenting is not easy, and no one really expects it to be, but have you ever considered that it might not be worth it? I can tell you with much certainty, that if I knew how hard parenting teenagers would be, I may have reconsidered the entire parenting gig all together. If I knew that I would spend years on end in survival mode, peeling myself out of bed and getting through each day like a robot mom, I’m just not sure I’d do it.
I can’t admit this to my kids. When my youngest asks me if I love being a mom, I say yes. When she asks me what my favourite part of parenting is, I tell her cuddling her. That part it true, my favourite part of parenting is the snuggles. But that ends. I won’t tell her how hard I have found being a parent, because I don’t want her to feel any sort of guilt. It’s not their fault really. It’s my naivety, thinking I could mother four children on my own, that’s just crazy.
I read this blog post by themotherhub recently, and it was as if the author was in my head. She spoke the words that I often think but am too afraid to speak. She opens with:
I like to be honest about my parenting experience; by honest I mean telling everyone how hard it is, how tired I am, the impact it has had on both my finances and my mental health. Don’t I sound fun? I do this because I really had no idea about parenting before I had my first child, none of us really do. You can read all the books, go to all the ante-natal classes, but you can’t really prepare for this experience.
I am a birth and postpartum doula, and people often assume that I’m a doula because I love babies. While I certainly did love my own babies (you know, when I wasn’t crying my face off and drowning in PPD), I don’t actually love other peoples babies that much. I am a doula because I want to help women prepare for parenthood. I want to assist in the empowerment of women right from the get go and support them through this incredibly hard transition. Birth is the easy part to be honest, parenting the hardest thing in the world. But if you start the journey surrounding yourself with support and being informed and empowered, you may just be willing to ask for help when you really need it. And then, you may just survive. Figuratively and literally.
Oh, and I have a Doula blog, feel free to check that out if you’d like.
I’m not sure how it happened. I can’t remember when it started, and I have no idea how to stop it. I feel like I’m the only one, and yet I have seen memes floating around the inter-webs indicating that other mother’s share my sentiment. I feel like I may be the worst mom in the world. The worst.
Okay, I know I’m not actually THE WORST. I don’t beat my children, neglect them, and I make sure they always have a home, clothes to wear and food on the table. But there is a part of my brain that won’t stop telling the rest of my brain that I actually suck, and that I have likely destroyed my children beyond repair.
How, you might ask? Well, it could be the divorce and separation. It could be the fact that I have moved between two cities (2 hours apart) twice. I mean, I did get a degree out of that move, but I still likely fucked my kids up. It could be that I came out to them roughly 6 years ago and have been in two serious relationships with women since. It could be that I now have two partners and am in a polyamorous relationship, and have been for the past 4 years. Or maybe it’s the activities I did or did not sign them up for. Maybe it’s the schools I’ve chosen, or the fact that I trained them to sleep in… just so I could sleep in on the weekends. Or maybe it’s the screens!!! Oh it’s gotta be the screens… iPods, xbox, netflix… I’m sure they’re screwed because of the screens.
Did I not breastfeed long enough? Or maybe too long? Was it the soy formula I gave my first two? They didn’t have the research to warn me against using soy formula at the time, but now it’s out and I can’t change the past. Did I not babywear my older two enough? Was it because when I did wear them, I wore them face out? Oh god, their hips!! And the overstimulation!I didn’t really co-sleep with them much either, maybe that’s it!
But what if it’s that I’m too strict? Or not strict enough? Did I not pay attention to them when they needed it? Maybe it’s because I was quite short with Dakota. It was stressful when he was little. I had PPD and he would kick the crap out of his baby sister, so I was short with him. He got sent home 4 times in the first month of grade one for being violent. Maybe that’s my fault too. His ADHD has made things hard, but maybe the years of changing his diet and trying different treatments fucked him up more than anything.
I don’t know exactly what I did, but I have a sinking feeling that I failed them. I have always tried my hardest to be a positive, strong, female role model, but I don’t know if it worked. My teens think I’m weird, that I’m too strict (after all, they “should” be able to smoke pot in the house, right?), and they’ll do anything to get out of being around me.
It could be the roller derby, I always took the kids to my practices and games even though they found it boring. I traveled to games, and made the yearly pilgrimage to RollerCon in Vegas. I just quit competitive derby last year so that I could do more with my kids, but maybe it’s still not enough.
Or could it be the tattoos? Piercings? Pink/purple hair? Oh god… maybe it’s my hair.
Stop brain…. stop.
I have had enough of the self punishment.
I know that I did make all the best choices I could with the information I had at the time, and I have always been there for my kids. I do love them, and I can only hope they know that. I need to remind myself of that.
But I need you… brain… to stop telling me how badly I suck. Please.
This past weekend, Lindsay and I were out in Surrey, BC for a writer’s conference (Surrey International Writers Conference). Now don’t get me wrong, I was not actually attending the conference, but I loitered around and thoroughly enjoyed being a non-attendee. Lindsay drove out on Thursday, and I flew out Friday night to meet her. I had great plans of meeting up with friends and hanging around Vancouver while she did the conference thing, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t.
See, I have social anxiety paired with depression, and served with a side of agoraphobia (not diagnosed, but suspected) that makes it hard for me to go out on my own sometimes. The thought of dropping Lindsay off at the hotel and then venturing out in to the world on my own did not appeal to me one bit, even though I knew I had friends to visit and would likely have a good time. I can’t really explain the feeling of excitement being overshadowed with thoughts of sheer terror, but that is basically it. Whatever the case, I sent my friends cancelation messages and decided to just hold fort in the hotel lounge. Normally I would regret such a decision later on, but I have to say, I am perfectly content with the decision I made. I met some wonderfully inspiring people in said lounge and I had time to work on my blog.
One of the friends I cancelled on (Maria) ended up coming to me and taking me along for a couple walks through a rainforest and an urban forest. The rainforests on the west coast are amazing, and I am certain that my health increased significantly within just 20 minutes of breathing in the rainforest air. It’s important to have friends that’ll drag you outside when you don’t feel like leaving your bed, or the lounge, or wherever you are. Lindsay forces me to go on nature walks too, as she knows that as soon as I’m actually out and in natural, I WILL feel better. It’s just the getting there that is the biggest roadblock for me.
I was so captivated by the lush forests and the sounds of running creek water, my mind
settled down and I just enjoyed wandering aimlessly. We went to Green Timbers and spent a good amount of time just reading the plaques on the trees, learning about the variety of vegetation and it’s origin. We even saw a Barred Owl! But my favourite things we saw was the abundant mushrooms. Under every tree, there seemed to be a path of unique mushrooms. There we tiny tiny mushrooms, huge mushrooms, yellow mushrooms, and super slimy mushrooms. One of the things I enjoy doing is taking pictures of mushrooms. I find them so unique and interesting, and therefore like to capture them. I would not eat one to save my life, but I do find them interesting.
I’m not sure what kind of mushrooms these are, but I’m thinking the ones on the right are edible. Maria used to forage for mushrooms in Russia while growing up, and seemed to be somewhat of an expert. I did find it funny though when she would exclaim, “that one’s poisonous, don’t eat that one!” and I’m all like, “c’mon now, I don’t care if I can eat it or not, I am not putting any mushrooms in my mouth.” Haha!
I loved this mushroom, it looks like a yellow Mario mushroom. Well, I say Mario mushroom, but it’s actually an “Amanita Muscaria.”
“Amanita muscaria is well known in popular culture for being one of those “trippy” mushrooms, the kind that make you have hallucinations.” – Source: This random blog post
After a simple google search, I discovered that the mushroom we came across is in the same family as the Mario shroom, and is called an Amanita muscaria var. guessowii. I’m not sure if it’s a “trippy” mushroom or not, but the potential is there.
This one had us a little amazed, and we had no clue what it was. It appeared to be a simple blob of yellow jelly, but after closer inspection, we determined it was definitely a fungi. In fact, after utilizing Google, I discovered it is called Tremella mesenterica. Other names are more fun though, including yellow brain, golden jelly fungus, yellow trembler, and witches’ butter. This fungi is edible although apparently bland. I do wonder however why it’s called witches’ butter; I may have to look that up.
And here we have your everyday, regular, fairly large, slimy shroom. I took a picture of it because I liked the way the cap was drooping, but I didn’t even notice that water droplet until days later. I feel like I caught the mushroom at the beginning of it’s demise. The decayed mushrooms that surrounded this area made me think that this mushroom was a little stronger, but was still about to succumb to natures pull.
The weekend ended up being fabulous, even though I didn’t really venture out on my own. I met rad people, went on some amazing walks, saw these incredible mushrooms, and spent some much needed time by myself in the hotel lounge. I might even go so far as to say that the Surrey International Writers Conference was the best conference that I have ever non-attended.
I have anxiety, but more specifically social anxiety. As an early adult, I can remember getting ready to go out for the night with some friends of mine, and just feeling sick. I couldn’t eat or drink, I’d get super clammy hands, and have an awful tummy ache. I didn’t recognize that it was anxiety though until several years later when someone suggested it to me. Now I know why I feel the way I do when I need to engage in social behaviours like interacting with other school moms, or going to parties or events where we’ll be meeting people. Now I understand a bit more about why I feel so anxious getting on planes… it’s not the fact that the plane could crash and we all may die… it’s the fact that I need to be in a small space with so many people I don’t know. What if I have to sit between two strangers and have a conversation?! Worst nightmare.
Based on my own experiences growing up and as a young adult, I have an easier time relating to my little ball of anxiety, Aisha. She has not been diagnosed with anxiety, but it is fairly obvious. We have an appointment with a paediatrician coming up soon to help her find more tools she can use to cope.
I put Aisha in Brownies this year, as she has been begging to go in it for years. She was sooooo excited! But here’s the thing… kids with social anxiety may really look forward to the activity, but all their little anxieties about meeting people, saying something silly, not knowing what to say, or coming across as shy… all come out. I took a picture of her right before her Brownie meeting started, and I have never seen a more accurate capture of her while feeling anxious. She is excited and happy in this picture…. but also terrified.
I’ve decided to join her unit as a leader, in part because they needed another leader to meet ratios, but also so I can be there to help her transition and feel supported. She is a gentle soul that is not always understood, and if I can help her be understood or even be the person to understand her, then I will.