I felt less self-hating yesterday than I did the day before and I feel much more calm today. It helped that yesterday was snuggle-tastic and I had lots of fantastically good interactions with the kids.
I love the days when “school” is done with me snuggling one kid at a time reading through their stuff for the day. It’s multiple extra hours of snuggling on top of how much we normally snuggle. I had an interesting chat with my somatic therapist about regulating off the kids. The therapist agreed with my assessment that as long as I am cheerfully accepting the regulating energy that the kids are freely offering… I’m not really being a vampire. If I tried to demand that they regulate me or if I pushed for more physical contact than felt good to the kids… that would be inappropriate.
But if someone is handing you a free gift, it’s ok to say yes.
I absolutely understand that having children touch you can be a PTSD trigger. For most of my life I couldn’t bear to be touched because anyone touching me was so dysregulating. Other than bdsm or sex, of course. I had enough control under those auspices to tolerate touch. My children have forced me to learn body regulation in order to tolerate their presence.
I understand that children, especially the grabby way that babies are, can overload the adult system like whoa.
Managing babies is what I do instead of meditating. Writing is what I do instead of meditating. Both require me to learn how to be in the moment and parse the differences between my needs and your needs in this exact moment and I have to get real precise “I am doing x for you even though this is hard and it hurts me.” The gift of being present for a baby is terrible to bear. Being a mother is a shit job. I don’t glorify this crap.
But it gives me purpose. It gives me a reason to get out of bed and care about someone other than myself. Go read A Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl.
Do you know why I don’t want a job? Because if I had a job I would have to forcefully create a lot more space in my life for me to have my unique processes outside of my family. I would need a huge amount of buffer time to transition from the boundaries I need for interacting with the world as a woman on my own and the boundaries I need in the world as a mother with children. They are incredibly different for me. I understand that I am physically capable of managing one set of behaviors most of the time without lots of screaming. I know where my failures are.
Lots of people have no choice but to be parents who work. So my white knuckling technique of getting through parenting is literally not an option because their energy has to go to other places. I get that. Don’t have more kids.
My experience of working in schools, my experience of being a fucked up person in the world tells me that no one perfectly gets their needs met but almost anything can be overcome if you have a hard core support network. My experience is that very few people genuinely have a hard core support network in modern America.
Most mothers don’t have someone to step up and fill the gap of what they can’t give. It isn’t their fault. They aren’t bad people. Life is shitty and unfair and it hurts all over. I don’t think these women are bad people for coping the way they must with a whole load of traumatic experiences. But children still need what they need if you don’t have it to offer. Don’t have *more* children if you find out with your first that you cannot bear to comfort a one year old.
I’m the fourth child. No one wanted to fucking comfort me. I was hit for crying because no one wanted to hear it.
I’m not saying, “You are a shitty parent so you should lose your children.” I don’t believe that. I think that most kids are better off with their parents even when it isn’t perfect. That bond is fucking real.
I’m saying that if you wanted to find out what motherhood is and then you found out that it is so overwhelming you can’t handle meeting the needs of your kid… don’t have more kids. Not because you are bad. Not because you shouldn’t have the kid you have. Because yet more load isn’t going to make you a better parent to the child who is here.
There are a lot of things I don’t do in this life because *I* have limits that preclude me from doing them.
One of the very few things I’m tremendously good at in this life is helping kids feel supported. I was fantastic at it as a teacher and I’m better as a mother.
Which doesn’t mean this impulse towards centering children is easy or something that everybody should be able to do. It’s about a very specific shift in thinking that most people don’t experience and that’s not bad or wrong. I absolutely understand that the way I center children in my thinking is not that common. I talk to teachers all the time. I talk to parents all the time. Not many people constantly think about the child in front of them like a social worker trying to manage what services a vulnerable person needs.
It’s based on the life I’ve lead. It is freaky to me when I come across children who are… just ok. They don’t need more support. They are getting everything they need from their life. It absolutely happens and I’m always a bit shook. It’s wonderful! I wish I had more time to grill their parents and find out how that happened.
There was this one family I worked with as a teacher. I knew the older and younger son. Both were diagnosed with Asperger’s and the family had a one to one therapist they had been working with since the oldest son was 4. I learned so many behavioral tricks from that family. The kids taught me. The mother taught me. Heck, the therapist (who came to every academic meeting) was incredibly informative. This is the hard downside of homeschooling and being so isolated. I don’t have families like that drifting through my life to teach me tricks.
I think of parenting children kind of like I think of staying up late to work in theatre. You have to evaluate if it is something you can handle. I can’t stay up late at night for love or money. I wanted a career in theatre so bad but I’m not physically capable of doing what I wanted to do. I had to find a different path.
One and done is ok. I think it is going to become more the norm than not. Only children branch out in their communities in a way that is super important. They look for the connections and the support they need.
My not-based-on-anything-real-so-I’m-probably-wrong opinion on having siblings is that it makes it harder to go out into the world seeking what you need if you believe you should have support at home. I know that it was a real handicap for me that I had three older siblings who all “talked” about “taking care of me” when the reality was I did hard physical labor to take care of my siblings as they taunted and abused me. I don’t believe that having siblings is always a good thing.
*I* didn’t want an only child because I think with my weird ass intensity I would fuck a kid up entirely if they had just me to interact with all day as we homeschool. EC definitely benefits from having FMC around. But it doesn’t always work out. It was a crap shoot. We got lucky.
It’s kind of hard knowing that if I had one kid in my house with me… I would screw them up with my intensity and my emotional ups and downs. With multiple children in the house it is easier for the house to carry on while I drift on my little emotional eddy and I’ll catch up when I’m ready. If it was just me and a single kid trying to manage my emotional shit… I sincerely believe it would get bad.
But other people have other limits. Other people have other things to offer.
Hell, I think that the parents who refuse to comfort their one year old children will often go on to be much better at inculcating what it means to be “normal” and to try and conform to being a cog in a machine. The machine doesn’t give a shit if you cry either.
Such parenting isn’t “wrong”. But shit dude only produce one cog.
Which isn’t a fact. Which isn’t a pronouncement from on high. I’m not on high looking down on anyone.
It’s my shitty opinion that no one has to care about even a little bit.
Which is why I banned myself from the forums. Because I can keep my shitty opinion to myself and stop arguing with people who have to live in the world very differently than I am able to live in the world. My life is so overflowing with privilege I don’t have the fucking right to judge anyone at this point.
I have a stack of parenting *choices* that almost no one gets. That makes me a self righteous bastard if I judge. People are coping with what they have in front of them with what tools they have in their bag. If I say they are bad for that… well… it’s already well established that I’m a shitty person so what the hell.
I’m a shitty person and a really good parent.
We went for a walk after dinner. Of course this turned into the “neighborhood tour” as it usually does. Our neighborhood is going to audibly keen when we leave. Last night was a lot of talking to the older ladies about how they can get in on the produce trading that is happening right under their noses. “Oh we do it! Let me introduce you to _______ so that you can talk about what you have to trade…”
My neighbor said that having me around makes the neighborhood feel warmer and cozier than it did without me and she’s been here 30 years. She also said that she can tell I must be a wonderful person in general because of the way my kids glow. “That has to come from you.”
I live in this permanent state of confusion. How did I produce happy children? How did I produce children who glow with so much happiness that people comment on it about once a week? Fucking strangers come up to me in stores and comment on it. Professionals who are used to finding the cracks and flaws in seemingly “happy” families tell me that they can’t figure out what they might have to offer us because we are doing so well.
It is very hard to reconcile in my head that I’m a shitty person who should die… only I’m better at this parenting gig than anyone has a right to be.
It is mostly privilege. It is mostly that I have the luxury of time without financial strain. I don’t think I would be such a good parent under almost any other circumstances and I try to be humble about that.
i wouldn’t be having another kid if I had more need to earn money. No chance. I would have nothing left to give another kid if I were in that position. I know it like I know my name. I only have as much to give as I have because of the amount of support I get from my husband.
It’s part of why I don’t feel comfortable asking other people for support. I get more than I deserve from my husband so for me to ask for support from anyone else is bad. There are a lot of people in this world who need and deserve that help so much more than me. I’m a fucking bitch. My life is already cozier than I deserve. Of course I should find ways to increase my share of suffering in this world.
There is no real way for me to pay back all the support that kept me alive. Not functional or healthy…. alive. I don’t deserve any more.
I paid back the therapy. I paid them. That’s a fair trade.
Communities kept me alive when my mother couldn’t. When my mother couldn’t comfort me when my immediate family members were killing themselves I went to my Jenny. I understand that mothers can’t always comfort their children and their children need to find that support in the world.
I also understand how hard that is. How painful the search is for people who will accept you. It’s rough.
I spend so much time wishing I hadn’t been born because then my existence wouldn’t require the support I’ve gotten and people could have “been there” for someone who was more deserving than I will ever be.
But if I had never been born my children wouldn’t be in the world. I may be a miserable son of a bitch, but my children… aren’t. My children are pretty much the only reason I am capable of looking at myself and seeing that I am fucking overwhelmingly filled with love.
I want to love people so badly. I want to be support for people so badly. I want to be worthy of being loved and supported. But I’m tremendously fucking limited in how I can offer that support. I’m really bad at being able to perceive adults the way I perceive children. I am impatient and intolerant of their needs in a way that I basically never am with children. It’s not nice and it’s not appropriate and I’m not defending it. It’s a shitty thing I do. It is a sharp block in my brain.
I have a slightly easier time with adults I knew as children so they get a halo effect. But it’s still hard.
I’m trying to work through what it means to be a good parent and a shitty person. Because I’m absolutely convinced that I am both. I’m honestly kind of hoping that as my children grow up I will have an easier time perceiving adults as people. These kids are going to be the first people I have known from infancy to adulthood. I didn’t know my siblings or cousins or niblings well enough to track them from youth to adulthood.
I was always off somewhere in a foster home because no one wanted to take care of me.
I think so much about what is owed for care that was grudgingly, barely given.
But it was given. I’m not dead. It’s kind of like mothers not wanting to comfort their kids but wanting them to exist in the world for… some… reason…
I can’t perceive this objectively because my mother never wanted me and it permeated my whole fucking life. I can only view this topic from the point of view of a baby who isn’t wanted. I know after 9 years of parenting I’m supposed to have way more compassion for how hard it is to mother…
I’m still the baby no one wanted.
I’m still the baby who was told to shut up or they will give me something to cry about. The pain I felt about knowing that everyone in that house wished I had died at birth… that had absolutely no merit or need for comfort.
I know I’m supposed to identify more with the parent who has anxiety or PTSD or depression. But I can’t. In my brain I’m still fully present with the hysterical need for a mother to comfort me. I will break my body in service to meeting my children’s needs because there will not be another child in this world who feels that way because of me.
This is something I can give if I have nothing else of value to give in this life. My children will never feel like they don’t deserve comfort because of me. I can promise them very little else in life. I promise this.
I really wish I could stop crying about this some year.
I can’t fix the pain I feel. Lord knows I’ve tried. But I can choose to not inflict it. That’s all I’ve got.
I really really really and truly do not believe that the way I parent is the one true way. I’ve seen people get equally as good or better results without having to be a neurotic freak. I envy them. But this is the only path I perceive as being available to me that will allow me to escape abusing my kids like fuck.
Isn’t that what we are all trying to do? Avoid abusing the kids like fuck?