Letting my children down

I think that as parents, we all beat ourselves up about doing the best for our children. Sometimes, our best is all we can do but I know that for me, it will never be good enough. Here are the ways I’m letting my children down. Can you relate to any of them?

I don’t pay enough attention to either child.

I know that Lia suffers in particular, to such an extent that her development is notably behind where Libby’s was at the same age. By now, Libby could point to all her body parts, even her eyebrows. She was saying quite a lot of words. Lia can only say a couple of words and doesn’t really use them in context. She doesn’t know her arse from her elbow. 

Libby suffers too though, and possibly in an even worse way. She doesn’t get the amount of affection from me that she should. Libby often comes to me for a cuddle and tries to get my attention by shouting or crying.

I feel terrible that she has to do that. Especially since until Lia came along, Libby was my everything. To me, she still is, but I guess for her it doesn’t feel like that now that she has to share the role. 

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I’m setting them up to be lonely

I’ve never particularly been somebody who fitted in. At primary school, the dinner ladies made me face the wall when I was eating because I had massive eyes and the other children said I was staring at them. What a loser.

It didn’t really improve. At high school, I met some wonderful people and made some great friends. I was never part of a friendship group as such though.

And as an adult? Things are still the same. I take the girls to their groups and all the mums chat and get to know each other. We’ve been trudging around the same groups for about two years now, I’ve never so much as spoken to one of the other mums outside of the group and as a general rule I don’t speak to them inside the groups either. 

And how does this effect my girls? I am concerned that they will see the fact that I’m always on the periphery of social situations and follow suit. I don’t want that for them. 

You never know who you might meet…

I make a real effort to make sure that the girls eat a variety of foods. Usually healthy, but with the odd curry, nandos, pizza and even a Michelin star meal thrown in. 

Despite this, I am horribly overweight, and I eat far too much sugar just to keep me awake. I don’t want the girls to think that it’s okay to let yourself go when you’re a mum, I don’t want this for them. 

I don’t have my hair cut, some days I don’t even brush it. I can’t remember the last time I wore make up. In truth, I’m too tired to care about how I look. That’s not ok.

The girls regularly see my beautiful sisters who are in their 20’s and always look gorgeous. I hope that they look up to their aunties enough to want to be like them and not take after me.  

I let my dreams escape

There was a time when I had ambitions and aspirations. I wanted to be somebody. Not the centre of attention, but perhaps somebody who made a difference on the periphery. 

These days, I am a mum. It’s the most important job in the world and my girls are a credit to me. But by being the person who works in a mundane job day in, day out without a day off, survives on four hours sleep and takes it out on my kids, am I setting  an example of the person I want them to become? Of course not. 

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17 Comments

  1. February 15, 2015 / 8:17 am

    Oh lovely, I can relate to so much. When you write it all down like that it sounds bad but it’s all surmountable. Don’t be hard on yourself.

    All children are different – my first was a slow talker and my second who has had the same attention-ish is a better talker. They’ll be fine.

    I noticed I was having arguments with N my 23 month old about cuddles a few months ago. He would come for a cuddle as soon as I started buttering bread, etc. It wound me up. What worked for me was just to stop what I was doing and cuddle. Everything can wait – the rewards from.N have been huge.

    I don’t talk to mums at playgroups and I worry that when my two don’t want me to play anymore, I will have marginalised myself too much to talk to anyone. at school I was friends with everyone but never had a best friend until I met my husband.

    I’m always around on twitter if you’re feeling sad xx

    • monsterid February 15, 2015 / 8:20 am

      Ah bless, thank you. Lovely idea with the cuddles. Glad it’s not just me that doesn’t talk at playgroup too!xx

  2. February 15, 2015 / 8:31 am

    Oh lovely I’m so sorry you feel like this. It’s so hard isn’t it? Like you I had a tough time at school, being bullied from day one for being ginger, wearing glasses, being a geek etc and the thought of Toby going through that terrifies me. Your girls will know how much you love them and I think because you’re aware of what you don’t want to happen to them you’ll encourage positive things xx

    • monsterid February 15, 2015 / 8:51 am

      Ah bless, thank you Hannah. Children are horrible aren’t they? I hate the idea of my girls having a horrible time at school.xx

  3. February 15, 2015 / 9:48 am

    I don’t think in any way you are letting your kids down and I don’t think you should be thinking that either!

    Having 2 kids (I am sure, I haven’t got there yet!) is hard. And although I am sure it is normal to feel the guilt I think with splitting your attention. I do think you need to know that you have given each of them an amazing gift – each other! A partner in crime!!

    You are definitely not alone with feeling like you don’t want to talk to people in play groups. And this isn’t setting them up to be lonely, if anything you are giving them a positive example and taking them despite not really enjoying ti yourself!

    And the last one, especially resonated with me. Its taken me a long time to realise that I haven’t abandoned my dreams or my ambition. They have just changed direction and I am figuring it out. Part of the reason I started to blog!

    Very honest post and thinking of you!

    • monsterid February 15, 2015 / 9:59 am

      Aw thank you Laura, that’s really kind of you. I do hope that having siblings will be helpful for them in the future. I never lived with my brother or sisters, they’re half-siblings & much younger than me. I hope that my girls grow up to be close and look after one another.xx

  4. Sarah Graham
    February 15, 2015 / 11:57 am

    Ahh Nat, I’ve known you for 23 years, and I never realised that your self perception, and the way you feel about yourself is so different from how other people see you. I think it’s time to address that! At school everyone looked up to you. Your beauty was the envy of all the girls (especially your massive eyes), all the guys were in love with you (I won’t name names, I would be here all day). We marvelled at how you got up at dawn everyday to swim, when the rest of us crawled out of bed at 830am. You were the smart, funny, individual girl, no one could imitate, but above everything you were kind and generous, respected and loved. Hence why you inspired envy, not jealousy , and people wanted to be like you.

    You know how I feel about you as a mum, and the relationship you have with your precious girls. I can only hope to be as good a mum as you, and that my baby will be as happy, well adjusted, polite and bright as Libby and Lia. If they grow up to be like you, I’m sure their friends and teachers will be as impressed as we are with you, and you will be as proud of them as your parents are of you.

    You are an inspiration because you excel at everything you do, right now you are being a supermum. But when the girls are both at school and you can refocus on your career, I have no doubt that you will excel at that too.

    So please give yourself some credit, and a break. It may feel very different to your exhausted mind, but the reality of how your friends and children see you is a pole apart.

    Finally, you are not overweight! Jesus woman, your are a beautiful 34 year old, fit and healthy size 12, with two gorgeous girls. You are not your 25 year old, size 8 sister, that was you 10 years ago, before your body fulfilled it’s potential as a mother. You have so moved on to more important things than size 8 jeans! Don’t look back with envy, look forward with pride. Xxx

    • monsterid February 15, 2015 / 3:29 pm

      Aw thank you Sarah, those are such kind words. And wow, 23 years?? We are so old!!!xx

  5. Sarah Howe
    February 15, 2015 / 7:04 pm

    I think this is a really brave post and I really felt for you reading it. Firstly your little girls are absolutely beautiful…just stunning and you can see how close they are in that picture so you must be doing an amazing job.

    Everyone I have spoken to says their second child isn’t as far on…even my Mum but they will be learning and taking it all in from the older one. I think that comes with the territory being a second child.

    I think it’s hard speaking to people in groups. I always prefer one on one contact – there was 9 of us in my NCT group and I only see one girl alone regularly. You may find that is easier. Maybe try and get chatting to other Mum who may also be alone? Then it’s much easier to arrange meeting for a coffee or play date and to have a good old rant!!

    Just look at the comments from one of your friends above! You sounds really admired and respected! Just keep doing what you are doing xxx

    • monsterid February 15, 2015 / 7:09 pm

      Thank you Sarah, that’s really kind of you to say. To be honest, I don’t really want to talk to the other mum’s at the groups. I have my own friends outside of those and I’m happy with that. I just don’t want to ostracise the girls.xx

  6. February 15, 2015 / 7:59 pm

    Wow hun you take so much on yourself. That dinner lady deserves a sharp kick. You may not have felt part of a friendship group at school, but I for one admired and adored you and still do. You were everything I was not – pretty, athletic, ladylike, cleverer than me – but I didn’t hold that against you 😉 Very few people come through school feeling part of a group – my parents told me that I only got invited places because the kids knew my dad was good for a lift home. I hated myself so much that I stopped eating at 16 and lived off coffee until I hit 19, but even on starvation rations and obsessive exercise I never dropped below 12.5 stone – the top end of what BMI states my healthy weight should be. That was followed by an disastrous engagement and such a rapid regain of the weight I lost that my own dad said I was gross. I’m 16 stone now, down from 19 and most of the time I manage to suppress the craving to be slim and healthy and pretty, so please don’t tell me you feel fat as it makes me cry a little inside – if you think you look bad, you must regard me as a toad!

    As for talking to people at playgroups, I chit chatted with the mums but mostly hung out with the staff running it. I was desperately lonely when the boys were smaller. It used to make me really upset when I’d read advice to new mums not to get overwhelmed with visitors and well wishers when I had no-one. I used to sit on the floor and cry when Toby was under a year old because I was yelling at my 2 year old and felt like I was neglecting my new baby because the older one just didn’t stop. Things only really changed when I started going to free classes run by the children’s center which came with a creche, and then led me to join the volunteer training program. The friendships I made with the ladies on my course were things that would normally take years as we shared our experiences. That gave me confidence to be open to other friendships. I’m the crazy lady now who carries business cards and if I meet someone I feel a connection with I hand over a card rather than relying on maybe bumping in to them again.

    This all didn’t happen overnight. It certainly didn’t happen when Toby was Lias age and we were exhausted from taking turns to sit all night with him propped up in our arms because we were afraid if we didn’t his apnoea might kill him while at the same time trying to satisfy the constant demands of a gifted child (which sounds like a boast, but look up parents comments on having ‘gifted and talented’ children and the key word is ‘exhausting’).

    The volunteering course was also a revelation because it doesn’t matter how bad you’ve had things, there’s someone else there forging ahead after the most horrific abuse, neglect and violence which makes you feel, well if they can do it, I blooming well can too. If you’re not naturally gregarious, that’s not a thing to feel bad about – your few close friends outweigh dozens of fairweather acquaintances, but for me I have to be among people or I start to unravel. Even after all of it though I turned a corner a couple of weeks ago where people started to invite me to do things with them – up until now it’s been the case that I would have these massive crashes of self doubt because people would generally do things I invited them to, like coming round for coffee, but never reciprocated. It didn’t occur to me that many of them were embarrassed by their homes because they weren’t coping with the demands of a family and a home, or just didn’t have the mental energy to make plans themselves. Last week I cried during yoga because the pose I was in unleashed something pent up. Don’t feel bad that you doubt yourself – I think only psychopaths don’t!
    Maz recently posted…Our week in picturesMy Profile

    • monsterid February 15, 2015 / 8:19 pm

      Ah bless thank you for your lovely words Maz. It sounds like things were really tough for you when the boys were little. I have nothing to complain about, we have it comparatively easy and certainly easier than a lot of people. I just worry about doing the right thing by my girls. And by the way I don’t think you’re a toad, you’re beautiful.xx

  7. Julie
    February 16, 2015 / 7:19 pm

    I’ve just read this nat & you’re being so hard on yourself. I only met you for the first time the other week but was so envious of your amazing figure & calm persona with your girls. They really are a credit to you. Youre a beautiful lady that is doing do much, you’ve built a business at home for the good of your family & if you don’t speak to many at playgroups, it doesn’t matter you’re taking the girls there for them to interact & build friendships. Really we all doubt ourselves at mums, perfectly normal

    • monsterid February 16, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      Ah bless thank you Julie, that’s really kind of you to say. It’s so much harder with two isn’t it? There’s constant guilt!x

  8. alice
    February 17, 2015 / 1:39 am

    I am obviously in no position to say because I have not been in the same position as you but I think that you do such an amazing job with Libby and Lia. They both look up to you so much and I see that all the time. Whenever Libby does anything with me all she wants to do is go home and show you! She and Lia are so close to you and it’ so lovely to see!
    I love spending time with them so much they are always so happy and a pleasure to be around and I think that’s largely to do with you!
    Also you clearly don’t need to wear makeup because you always look lovely! and also no way are you overweight!!! you are one of the fittest people I know! xxxxx

  9. alice
    February 17, 2015 / 1:46 am

    I would also like to reiterate what Mel said. You have always been so successful and If I am ever in need of any help I would go to you. You are the cleverest person I know and you should definitely have more confidence in yourself. You have achieved way more than I think I would, and definitely someone I would aspire to be like. Please never ever think that you don’t do enough for Libby and Lia. They are so so luck to have you! xxx

    • monsterid February 17, 2015 / 7:18 am

      Ah bless, thank you Alice. The girls are very lucky to have you as their aunty.xx

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