The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short
Youngest turned 6 over the weekend and so we’ve had a busy busy couple of days. She currently LOVES The Greatest Showman movie (weak plot, poor character development and lets not mention the historical/biographical accuracy but visually great, uplifting, high energy bit of sweet fluffy entertaining escapism with a positive message that is so very moreish with its highly satisfying choreography and catchy AF songs that make me want to dance. Shout out to when the beat first drops in the opening sequence; love it! Also, Hugh Jackman…) so we had an appropriately themed party and her first trip to a real life circus on the Friday. Plenty of popcorn, candy floss, wonder and awe topped off with passing out in the car on the way home and being put to bed fully clothed. What a birthday! Amirite???
It hits me that she’s now a fully fledged little girl, and has been for some time, rather than the baby I still have a tendency to think of her as.
Its a very bittersweet thing Ive found, to watch our babies grow. As parents, we’re excited and proud to see them develop and thrive and become these amazing little individuals bursting with character but with each phase that passes you miss the child they were before. Or at least I do. The newborn, the baby, the toddler, the 5 year old. As my Eldest has grown, I’ve often expressed a wish that both he as he is now and all the Hims that came before could all coexist at the same time (though I’m not sure id like the hard work that that would entail!). With Youngest, its bittersweet for me to look back for slightly different reasons. Her earliest years was a time I really really struggled. I might not have been off the rails like I had been back in 2010, but in many ways this time period might have been worse.
In addition to the trauma of years past I now had to cope with…
.The weight gain and physical changes to my appearance brought about by pregnancy. Hello insecurities and low self esteem
.Moving to a completely new area.
.Becoming accustomed to the new people and the local mentalities that are prevalent here
.Finding a school for my son. He wasn’t placed for 3 months. Queue Guilt
.Having him placed in one that was simply too far for a family who didn’t drive and having to deal with a twice daily long, gruelling, highly stressful school run that could sometimes take 2 hours or more in the afternoons. This lasted 4 years, though we found a variety of ways to try and make it easier. Queue guilt
.Having to watch my son being bullied and ostracised both by neighbours children when playing outside and at school. Trying desperately to make it stop, not knowing how. Not having it dealt with affectively by the school who – we discovered later-had an even higher awareness than we did of exactly the type of bullying and spite that took place within their walls. Que more guilt. Topped with anger frustration and ressentment
.Eldests school letting us down in general, in a variety of areas. Even more guilt. Frustration. Anger. Resentment
.Having to disturb baby Youngest from her sleep and drag her out in order to take Eldest to school. She wasn’t the type who’d snuggle back down peacefully once made cosy in the pushchair. No, Youngest was always one to resist sleep until the bitter end; until she couldn’t physically stay awake any longer. She ended up overtired and sleep deprived and it affected her temperament, her immune system- she caught colds frequently-and subsequently my ability to cope. Still more guilt and frustration
.Having to centre my days with Youngest around having to leave within good time to travel to the school, in peak traffic, trying to figure out the least stressful way to travel with a pushchair. There was no lesser evil it turned out I simply swapped one stress for another. Youngest was always a sensitive child and quite swiftly began to anticipate the impending stress about to be thrust upon her. As soon as I began to indicate that we needed to get ready to leave, she would become immensely difficult. Tenacious, head-strong and stubborn she would not come quietly. And the afternoons I did my best to keep my head about me, to be calm tolerant, meet her needs and avoid unnecessary stress didn’t matter. She knew better what was coming. Which of course simply made the stress inevitable. Yet more guilt, this time iced with lavish amounts of humiliation, feelings of failure and increasing panic as I grappled and bribed and reasoned and cajoled Youngest into settling -which rarely worked-in the most public of places. The high street, the bus stops, the playground; in a part of the city where offering unsolicited advice and “help” is a most active characteristic amongst the locals
. When she became mobile, and refused to stay in the buggy. Running into roads completely fearless causing me to pelt after her shrieking for her to stop and earning many a look of disapproval from passers by, who apparently would have rathered she’d been hit by a car or so it seemed. In the playground at pick up, daily without fail shed clamber out -could not physically be held back – and run all around the playground and into the schools open door, heedless to my calls for her to stop. Smirks from Eldests teachers and parents alike. Yet More guilt. Yet More humiliation. Yet more anger
.When she started nursery, and it soon became very apparent that their methods (Montessori) were largely making her miserable. Uncertain as to what to do for the best -which now with the benefit of hindsight seems obvious-any attempt to discuss the issues with Youngest teachers were glossed over with a lot of confusing, twisty, condescending, politically correct “teacher speak” that essentially outright lied about her experiences and often left us with the vague impression that we were in the wrong for having these concerns (come to think of it the manner with which we were treated resembled gas-lighting a fair bit) So, so, sooo much guilt and anger. The silver lining to her time there is that we’ve both met some wonderful parents and children, whom we are still friends with. The downside is her confidence was knocked greatly and I suspect some much more subtle things are going on within he from her time there.
So was it worth it? As much as I love our friends, I don’t know. I just appreciate and enjoy knowing them as much as I can and hope that the negative affects of her time there are not irreparable
All this and more helped my depression to morph and become deeply imbedded within me. I (well, we really) was exposed to these aggravations usually twice daily and it pushed my depression far down inside
Those years were a whirlwind in that they were a chaotic stressful blur and whilst there were of course hundreds upon hundreds of moments of joy and pleasure and pride I spent much of Youngests formative years stressed, unable to cope, unable to function, often experiencing physical repercussions of stress and depresion, feeling battered down and not entirely present. Often withdrawing. My days were spent large simply coping. Or not coping, rather. And they were long and hard. I counted the days until the school holidays, when life would be better. It took a humungous toll not just on me but on all of us as a family (see my previous blog articles for more in depth descriptions of my exact experiences with depression).
These elements are no longer a part of our lives, thank Heavens, and we are all of us much better for it. The children are in new schools and are significantly happier, which in turn has a direct affect on my own mental health. I no longer have to travel all over the borough and then some by bus. Youngest is much more likely to listen -if you take the time to explain something that is-now she is older. She no longer runs into roads. I am no longer The Mum Who Shrieks At Her Child In The Street, which I am quite sure thats how I was known at one stage by the locals
When I think back on mine and Youngests time together when she was very small, I miss the baby and toddler she once was and I smile at how charming and mischievous and smiley and clever and funny and good natured she was and continues to be. I even smile at her stubbornness, because my God aint nobody going to force her into anything. At least, not without one helluva’ fight. I was then and continue to be very very proud of this daughter of mine – this mighty girl with a will of iron!
But I feel an awful lot of regret too. Regret for all she was put through. Regret I didn’t know how to parent her better, the way she needed. Regret that I didn’t know how to stop us from experiencing these awful, gruelling things. The school run, the public transport, the nursery. Regret I couldn’t enjoy her a much as she deserved to be enjoyed. Regret that we will never ever have those years again.
Now she is six, and life is better for all of us. I attribute much of the vast improvement in my mental health the last year or so to, yes this blog, but also the changes in our lifestyle and the absence of those daily aggravations that induced so much stress , guilt, shame, failure and humiliation
Now she is six, and I am here, fully. Functioning and coping far better and learning to break the habits I fell into as a means to cope back then. I am even working on not being The Girl Who Wears Sunglasses ALL The Time
More later on how that goes