For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with the idea that I’m just not ‘good enough’. Not pretty enough, awkward in social situations, just deep down not a good person. It’s getting better — I’m much, much happier now than I ever have been in the past — but it’s still there, niggling like the speck of grit at the heart of a pearl. Still it’s getting better. Having kids — having these kids — has had a transformative effect on my happiness levels and self-esteem.
This is perhaps ironic given that the act of having children has resulted in two of what I think of as my ‘personal tragedies’. (Melodramatic? Yes? Up my own arse? Possibly) — events that have caused massive emotional upheaval over the course of my life.
The first would be the miscarriage I had when we were trying for baby #2. More on that another day.
The second, of course, is Wee Girl’s ASD diagnosis, whch I should stress I no longer think of as a tragedy. Not really. Not unless I’m going through an emotional bad patch.
It’s so easy, when reading mummy blogs or posts on Mumsnet, to think that every other parent is spending so much more time with their children than you are. I am at my core an introvert. Right to the very marrow of my bones. I’m just not a talker, a chatterer. I’m calmest and happiest lost in my own thoughts or buried in a book. Which makes having children an interesting — read: challenging — experience.
Especially when one of those children doesn’t talk. How do I silence the not-so-quiet little voice inside screaming that it’s my fault, that I don’t talk to them enough, don’t play with them enough. No wonder she’s not talking. No wonder.
And it’s hard sometimes to know how much of this is true. Sometimes I do spend too much time on the laptop, or reading a book, or letting them watch CBeebies just that bit too long. It used to be that we would be out in the mornings — a playgroup, say, then on to the park and a slow walk home. Lots of time running around after her, because at this point she was demanding that I run around after her, grabbing my hand and pulling if I dared to sit down for a couple of moments.
But that was before Little Man was born, and now the routine that held together my days (and for a long time my sanity) is shot to pieces.
I need a new routine. I need to have structure to my week, so that I know what’s happening, where we are going to be today, tomorrow, next week.
At home it’s far too easy to let the time slip away, minute by minute, until an entire day has passed by and you’re not quite sure where the time has gone or what you’ve been being.
I also need to be kinder to myself. The negative voice in my head doesn’t achieve anything other than making me less able to be a good mother. It’s way past the time I cleared this toxic nonsense from my life once and for all.
So no, I’m not a bad mother. But that isn’t to say there isn’t room for improvement.