I want to be that mother who can stand up and say I am a strong confident mother and I know what is best for my children. We breastfeed and co sleep, We listen, We include, We eat chocolate and snot smoothies, we trampoline and grow frogs, we sling, we carry and we try and understand and work with our children without resorting to punishments, threats or coercion.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Because That's What Mum Does

When I am feeling sadistic and narcissistic and I want to know the truth..about me...I think about an interaction with my children that did not go according to plan..the plan being minimal emotional and physical pain for all involved ie all get along

I face the truth about me everyday when I interact with my children.  

Tonight Ellie said 'thats what mum does' in response to Barry saying 'i think she has gone outside' after Maia was becoming upset and asking where i had gone after I got up out of bed and went downstairs without saying anything.  Although thinking about it after, I felt I was saying plenty.  Maybe no-one was listening? Maybe they were listening too well.

I had been lying prostrate on the bed with Ellie on one arm and Maia on the other (our usual method for the final sleeping part, after the story poart, the talking part, the questions about our day part and the milk part, but tonight it was too painful) and I had tried to move my position saying that it was hurting me and I did not want to do it anymore.  Maia literally grabbed my arm and would not let go obviously believing she had that strength (if she had been a monkey she would have...but we evolved supposedly: and if I'd been a monkey I probably wouldn't have chronic pain and I'd live off bananas and leaves and live in trees in a hot climate...sounds idyllic...anyway i digress)...she was holding tight. Ellie became upset that I would not lie in this position but I persevered and changed position.  She began kicking me and pushing me away saying i don't want you here, meaning her space, because I moved into a more comfortable position that meant her legs touched me ...i responded several times with 'ow thats really sore, stop that' or words to that (in)effect(ual).  When, eventually, I felt that nothing I was saying or doing was working, I got up and walked out.

When Barry told me what Ellie had said 'That's what mum does' I responded with 'yes that's what mum does when she is lying in pain and is not happy with the situation and feels nothing is working she walks away in case she becomes default shouty mummy'

In recounting this story I realise now that to my children it looked like yes I was saying plenty but not effectively and the time when I should have said something I, in effect 'walked out' which I believe they see as a form of love withdrawal.  

If I get to that 'walking out' stage, which is less than I used to thankfully.  (I recognize it as the flounce, a common family trait), I work harder to communicate first and if I still feel helpless its not working, I make a special effort to  leave with a breezy comment about needing to do something houseworky, there is always something houseworky needs doing because I don't spent my entire days doing housework, not anymore.  It gives me time to breathe and re-asses my words.  

Maia dealt with it all by being upset and eventually coming downstairs then falling asleep on me.  Ellie dealt with it by being upset but staying upstairs with Barry and falling asleep (she may have been too tired to come down)...later when Barry took her for her night time pee, she refused to get back into bed and sat screeching in a sleepy state at the top of the bed and would not go back to sleep.  I came up saying what's going on to which Barry replied I have no idea.  She did not know whether to push me away or cuddle me and she did not calm down until she folded herself into me (if I had touched her first she would have screeched more) and I whispered in her ear 'its ok, I love you Ellie' over and over .

She finally relaxed into a lying down (on my arm incidentally) position and fell asleep.

Now could the initial incident have been avoided? Possibly not.  Maybe I could have let them know i was uncomfortable..oh wait i did..ok maybe I could also have acknowledged their need for me to be in that position and that yes I know you are very upset but I am just cannot continue being in pain.  Maybe in that moment words were pointless or maybe a simple 'I love you very much but my arms hurt I need to move' might have worked.

I don't know but if you asked me what I would say if I did know, I would probably tell you 'I could have handled it better and I am glad I got another chance' because 'thats what my kids do' - give me another chance to handle it better.

Meltdowns - sleepily
Losing the Plot - silently
Breastfeeding - in a restaurant no less (yes we went out for cheapy dinner, no less! and there were fireworks involved)

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