Monday, 6 January 2014

It's not just me, tho it's still not right

This has to be one of the most famous faces in the modern era.

Her yells are legendary.

Mine were getting that way too last summer, do you recall?

Parenting in isolation isn't good for anyone. While constantly comparing isn't good either, there's always that balance of 'oh, my child does that too' or 'nope, can't help you with that but I'm happy to listen and maybe we can work something out over coffee'

We all have role models be they work colleagues, media personalities, or friends.

G and I have several role models in friends whose parenting skills, evidenced by their terrific kids are what we aspire to with MissM. Most of these friends are in Sydney - their kids are much older than MissM so they've 'been there, done that' which helps a lot. I reach out to them from time to time, but and I hate to harp on it, being an expat puts a whole new spin on things.

It's just the 3 of us 90% of the time.

Making deep friendships, with honest, raw connections takes so much time and effort and when it happens it's stunning and when it doesn't it's very lonely. Only having one child means we only do each stage once - by the time we've worked it out it's over and done with and we're figuring out the next one.

Just think of the network of friends and family you have close by to support you .... to ask questions of, or to compare behaviours. Even MissM's education can't really be shared honestly - she's been to 5 schools and been part of 5 different systems. Most of our friends kids have started and finished at the same school.

Our close friends with kids MissM's age are scattered, as we met a few in Dublin when she was at Montessori and the rest in Japan (the closest ones are now in various locations which means we Skype and FB a lot).

There didn't seem to be a whole lot of connecting going on in Winchester, but the one or two friends I found I was able to confide in had never expatted and while they were great listeners, and applied common sense to a lot of what was going on, their empathy was never going to happen and I was embarrassed by their sympathy.

Spinning out of control as a parent is something you don't necessarily want the other parent to know about - at least, not the depths you feel you've succumbed to. G had an inclining what was going on, but even now, I doubt he was fully aware. That's not his fault. It was mine. I should have been able to cope with one well behaved, funny sweet kid.

Several friends said that's it - only having one child means 100% of my attention is focused squarely on her. There's no distractions. As I'm not working, all my energy and effort can and does go into her, 100% of the time. The difference in their opinion was they didn't have the time to noticed the shape of their child's handwriting, or to ensure every piece of homework was even done.

As a result of all of this, and probably a lot more, I started to do something I've never done before - get angry at a person I loved; raise my voice to such levels and in such tones that I frightened them and me.

A friend posted a link to an article in the Huffington Post about yelling ...... it resonated with me to the depths of my core, and by the end of it all I could think was it's not just me, tho it's still not right, and I'm not alone.

Click here if you would like to read it.

What a brave and courageous mum to have found the strength to write this article. I think I might have alluded to things in a few chats, but not to the extent she does.

I started to cry when I read these next two paragraphs, cos that was me.

Yes, it was those things -- normal mishaps and typical kid issues and attitudes that irritated me to the point of losing control.
That is not an easy sentence to write. Nor is this an easy time in my life to relive because truth be told, I hated myself in those moments. What had become of me that I needed to scream at two precious little people who I loved more than life?

Granted, our little angels know when and how to press our buttons, but we are the adults and we should have the strength to know better than to bite. I could HEAR my voice rise, I could FEEL my body language change, and yes, MissM, like the authors girls, recoiled from me on more than one occasion making me feel like a hideous monster, a failure and a total stranger to myself and my daughter.

Do we love too much?
Do we care too much?
Are our expectations too high?
Are we too busy?
Do we not like being interrupted?
Should children should be seen and not heard while we Facebook, Skype, email and text?
Is it too much pressure managing a home, having a job (i don't have that excuse) and running a house?
Are we too tired?

And the kids - what's their role in this?
Do they have one or are they simply kids?
What are they learning by pushing buttons to get yelled at? Is any form of attention worth it?
What are we teaching them by our behaviour?
What's our response if they raise their voices to their friends?

I never thought I'd be a yeller.

I'm ashamed and saddened to admit that I was one.

I am proud and relieved to say I am no longer one.

Oh, I'm sure I'll raise my voice, but I'm not going to yell.

MissM's noticed the difference these holidays and commented, like the authors daughter, it's nice when there's no yelling - and it is.

I'm really pleased my friend posted this article and I took the time to read it.

Wonder what you think?

With friendship


  1. you are brave for your honesty and I think all of us, and i mean ALL, have to admit we have yelled. it is a matter of frequency I guess, and yes parenting in a vacuum makes it happen faster and more often. it's a matter of perspective I think and when you are feeling alone, and the kid(s) are there all the time with just you, they get the low form of communication that yelling is. i think it makes it clear that you are human and not perfect - I challenge anyone to say they are!

    1. Parenting in a vacuum - there's another chat waiting to happen.