Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Struggle Is Real

I'm not having the best week.

Dave has finally come off on holiday from work for the last week of the holidays, and as always, I have limped across the finish line waiting for him.

I barely held it together the previous week, when I unequivocally stated that I was DONE with being the full-time, main carer for our three darling children.

What is wrong with me?

That's the question I asked myself for a good couple of weeks: What is wrong with me?

Why am I unable to get through lengthy periods of time caring for three children on my own, when so many other women also have to do it and without half as much complaint as I seem to constantly give?

Last week, I decided I needed to vent, so I posted a bit of a diatribe on a parenting forum, which went a bit like this:

"Ladies, we are week 5 into the summer holidays and I have been off work for 10 weeks now (quit a really awful, stressful, horrible job and a million times better now, and waiting for new job to start in 2 weeks). My teeth feel like they are peeling with the domestic boredom. I have three kids, aged 10, 8 and 4 and they are lovely kids, they really are, but quite honestly, I could punt them out of the window. 
The youngest is full on Oedipal, spending the majority of his time sqwauking "mum, mum, mum, mummaaaaaaaaaaay" a bajiliion times a day, just for no real reason. I mean, he doesn't want anything...just my fucking soul.
The middle one is in the spectrum and needs to know exactly what we are doing every single moment of every single day, which means there is absolutely no chance of standing down or having a casual 5 minutes, like, ever. He needs routine and I stupidly keep saying things like 'maybe later', instead of just giving him a specific time and date for stuff. He is exhausting. The oldest has decided his preteen side is going to come out this summer and he just spends his time back-chatting or wrapped like a slug in all my nice blankets in his smelly room watching YouTube constantly.
Plus, the eating!!! All they do is consume!!! What have I made?!
I fear our household is the biggest contributor to landfill in the world (sorry everyone else), despite my efforts.
I have about ten tons of washing I constantly need to do, they keep making me go to parks where they ruin their shoes by scuffing them on the roundabout, or in the saner moments when we don't have to 'do something' (for they must at ALL times be 'entertained' 🤨, they've managed to haul all of my soft furnishings and all the tiny little toys outside to play 'shops' (read: make a big bastarding mess), usually just before the wee showers we've been randomly having, so everything gets soaked. Raging.
I've had precisely 10 hours of childcare over the last ten weeks to fulfil the purpose of going to job interviews and yesterday I got to go to a funeral (yay! 😞)
I left my job because I was burnt out, now I just feel burnt out in a different way. I miss socialising with adults, or just having a normal conversation that isn't preceded or followed up with demands, or just silence (these boys are so loud and they just constantly talllllllkkkkk!) Christ, I'd love to finish a stream of thought, let alone a cup of tea.
My house is a shit tip, I have eaten so much shite (no time to make nice things for me) and I'm knackered. School holidays are far too long. And I know some folk really embrace the time and enjoy their kids company because 'life is so short' and 'they are only little once' and yes, I feel guilty for moaning, because obviously I'm lucky to have them etc etc but HOLY FUCK I need a break!"

I fully expected to be taken apart for my comment  but I didn't really care.  I was at the end of my tether.

I did not expect what are some of the nicest and supportive comments I have ever had from total strangers.  Hundreds of women replied in solidarity.  I've never felt more seen.

I have honestly had the most shittiest few years - between a crazy house that is falling apart, the worst financial issues I've ever faced, couple that with not on, mot two or three, but 4 cars which have all had some pretty hefty problems or being scrapped completely(we need our cars where we live for work and school etc), some pretty crazy employment, redundancy, unemployment situations, health stuff and the general craziness that goes with raising a family around all of this...I wouldn't say that we haven't done too bad, considering.

During this time we have had some really great help from some really amazing people - I've been in absolute tears sometimes with the lengths that some folk have gone to to help us out, and we will always remember everything, every little detail, because sometimes quite honestly, it's all that has kept us going at times.

We have had our fair share of shite from folk too, which keeps it all at a balance, to be fair, but in the main, folk are generally nice and supportive.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that we have not had it easy, and that all things considered, we are doing okay.

It does feel like walking backwards through treacle in heels with handcuffs and a blindfold on sometimes - especially when we get handed three boisterous, loud and to be honest, quite demanding children for weeks at a time.

This summer, I haven't had a payday for two months - that's bound to add pressure onto a situation, especially when we have to factor school uniforms, the big p7 school trip payment by the end of August, feeding the buggers for six weeks plus activities.

Man, life is easier by miles when you have some kind of liquid cash to put into activities.

And everything costs money - I mean, everything.

I'm so tired of moaning about it, but I am always so fucking stressed about bloody money - the kids are like wee money hoovers.  Sometimes I feel like we are finally getting on top of something and can relax a bit and BOOM - it's like they can sense it and they grow, or need shoes or suddenly need money for something else.

And to try and take the edge off, I give them pocket money every week.  Burning a hole in their pockets - they go mad with the power. £3 per week is tons to a kid, and actually a bit of an annoying, sickening feeling every Friday, trying to remember to pay them and trying to remember it's good for them to have it and it's good for them to learn budgeting and stuff - but honestly, sometimes it's my last £3 every week and it kills me to hand it over to be spent on rubbish.

Something popped up on my Facebook feed today that reminded me that this time, 5 years ago, someone had our kids overnight!

Can you imagine!

Which makes that the last time we spend a night together alone away from the kids.

And in that post, I mention how the last time before that had been 3 years previous.

That means we have had 2 nights away from our children in EIGHT FUCKING YEARS.

No wonder I am feeling a wee bit fraught.

I love my children, with every bone in my body I love them.  

But, man, I am tired.  And I am so in need of a break.

The last time Dave and I had more than 2 hours alone together was back in March.

March 22nd, to be exact.

And I hate to say it, but I am jealous.

Jealous of the mums that go away on holidays with pals abroad for a couple of nights, jealous of the couples who get to go away for a night at the weekend in a different city to recharge, jealous of the families who take children away to caravans to spend quality time with grandparents or stay with them for a week, jealous of the sleepovers at aunties and uncles houses, at the people who go away in large groups of pals, mish-mashing their kids together for unforgettable trips where they take the weight off each other just by being there.  I'm jealous of the people who have groups of pals they meet up with frequently for day trips, and the gal pals who meet up for a reunion, of the siblings who old each other kids for each other while they go and conquer whatever it is they need to do.

It's so bloody hard to be one of two whole people in the whole world who take responsibility for three growing kids on very fucking little for so much time in one go. 
 It's knackering and hard and honeslty, as much fun as it can be , and as tight as we are as a family, and as lucky as we are to be all together and safe and warm (because there is always that one person who has to 'play devils advocate' or 'see the positives'), I honestly do benefit from stepping away for a bit and gaining perspective and being apart from the kids.

As does everyone!

The more women who commented on that post that day, the more I realised - I am not alone.  My situation is not 'usual'. My husband couldn't see it until I showed him the post and the comments from other women in similar situations.

We all need a support network - whatever form that takes.  We all need someone to hold a hand, or wipe a bum, or to simply batten down the hatches with when things get rough.

I sincerely wish that the women on my computer that day lived beside me.

Thank fuck for the internet or I might have not survived the last week.

I am normal.  IT's okay to be struggling in my own situation.  It's okay to be tired.  It's totally okay to need people.  It's fine to need a break from your kids (and healthier for everyone involved).  It's cool to need to vent. 

Everyone - please check on your friends and each other; near and far.  It's a bloody long summer, and nobody should ever feel at breaking point when we are all in this together.

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