I had to give myself a real talking-to today. Sudden “I’m such a bad mother, I don’t even know what to feed my children with other than brioche rolls and cookies” lies invading and shouting and trying to put me down.
But you know what?
I AM a good mother.
That thing that Bunmi Laditan wrote? That ended with “Every other generation before ours: feed them sometime.” It’s so true. Because most generations before ours weren’t so inundated with information as to what is so wrong with the commercially mass produced convenience food available and aggressively marketed to us.
And so, when I despair that I’m not caring for my children well enough (not despairing that I’m not caring for them, but that I’m not caring well enough for them) I need to remind myself of the truth sometimes.
That I care for them.
I provide food for them to the best of my ability.
I play with them.
I am available.
I problem-solve with them.
I create things with them.
I sit with them.
I enjoy their company.
I tidy up without grumbling, most of the time.
I snuggle with them in the evenings, listening to them, being as available as I can be.
I remember what their preferences are, and make the effort to keep up when those preferences change.
I try to pre-empt their needs, when I can.
I AM good enough. More than.
And that actually, on balance, their diet and life is … well, pretty balanced.
I literally just said, as I walked out of the room to put some more wood on the fire, “do you think we could try to keep the chairs over near the table?” which I can only assume they took as a challenge to be opposed rather than a suggestion!
I also needed a bit of reassurance at school tonight. Monday knocked my confidence more than I realised. I’m grateful for perceptive teachers though, who notice when something’s not right, and who take the time to talk. I’m not so stressed about the module test any more, anyway! Afterwards I did my usual talking to myself in danish as I walked to get the groceries and back and this time it felt a lot easier. I may have fewer months of being exposed to the language than my classmates but I have an advantage of being a very fast learner!
Today has been tough though. I’ve been stressed about money, and usually when I’m that stressed and unable to fix the problem I bury myself in something else, preferably productive. Like language studies or baking or chopping wood or anything like that. But I could NOT focus today. I just wanted to (simultaneously) dance in the kitchen to Bill Withers’ Lovely Day, and wrap myself in a blanket cocoon. Menstruation is not kind to my brain, and today I was very grateful for a friend to talk to, who takes my pre-coffee rants and flies with them! She is a bit awesome and I’m very lucky to have met her. Hah.
Over-saturated happy-place pictures as part of my efforts to keep my head above water this morning.
I managed (eventually) (with lots of distraction) to chop up a nice big piece of tree into firewood which I’m still amazed I did; but I had to set the breadmaking aside as it just didn’t want to happen. I did feed the kids, and I did get dressed (that one was kind of non-negotiable really given it was a school day), and I did choose to walk from the station to school even though by the time I’d got into the station (the whole 20 meters from the bus) I was already regretting my decision, it felt so COLD with a proper bitey baltic wind.
Feels like Winter is being stroppy and sulky and needs a hug. Or a holiday.
I thought a walk would help clear my head from today’s meh and it did, with enough time to re-fill it with a bunch of random stuff from the past which I had and have neither the time nor inclination to delve into and address either during my walk or now. Re-file back in the “thanks so much for bringing that back up anxiety” file.
Look what I DID though! Few tips from this chap, and I felt confident enough to split a big piece of tree up into firewood myself!
Grateful that Steve was home in time today to make one of his special mochas for me to take to school in a thermos. Somehow (given how today has gone it’s unsurprising really) I miscalculated my insulin during the afternoon and by the time I got to school I was already a bit low. By breaktime I was borderline hypo and struggling to focus and was very grateful for a warm sugary drink. And for the first time all day I was sensible and refilled my thermos with a hot chocolate from the vending machine, knowing I’d need a warm drink again while I waited for my bus home!
The evening has not been much better although I got sent pictures of hearts made by Charley in Minecraft (he does that a lot for me), and big cuddles from everyone when I got home. Erika struggled to fall asleep and then when she did eventually I managed to not shift her into a decent carry hold, then fell onto the bed (slowly and remarkably gracefully but still) with her while trying to get to her bed and shift her blanket out of the way, then managed to rouse her even more trying to lift her back up and onto her bed. When I got out and back to the kitchen to finally start tidying up I checked my blood sugar and no wonder I was clumsy, it was of course low again.
“To Mummy, from Charley” sent to me while I was at school 💞
Some days if you only look at the struggles you wonder why you bothered getting out of bed at all that day. And then you look at what you achieved DESPITE all that, and realise you are stronger than you thought you were.
And that, really, is why I write this journal. So that although I’m recording the lows, I’m also recording what I’ve achieved because I forget all too easily and think I’m failing when actually I’ve lost sight of what I am achieving despite the struggles and the ongoing battle with depression and anxiety and diabetes. I do not believe that my purposeful looking for the silver linings in situations diminishes or invalidates how I feel in any way. I find chinks of hope. I consciously and constantly look for the good in things. I recognise my feelings, I accept them and allow myself to feel them fully, but I refuse to stay there in them. Catching the silver linings if it is to be meaningful or helpful in any way is something only the person in the middle of any given situation can do, it’s a choice we make. If other people point out the silver linings to me, no matter how good their intentions, more often than not it makes me feel like my feelings were just invalidated. To hold space for people who are carrying big feelings is massive. And important. It gives us chance to feel those feelings safely, and to know that, if we choose to, it’s safe to come out again too.
How To Be A Mom in 2017: Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two year apart for proper development also don’t forget the coconut oil.
How To Be A Mom In Literally Every Generation Before Ours: Feed them sometimes.
– Bunmi Laditan, Confessions of a Domestic Failure