20 Sep

I don’t often miss being married anymore, these days full of my mess, left where I wish, my food, steady in the fridge, my couch, clean for me.

But then I spend a few days in a row with an eight year old moodier than me 2 days before my period, and one of the nights involves multiple wake ups and bad dreams and crawling in with me and I just cannot hack it. The tired, the soul destroying tired that leaves me weak at the knees and shamefully wanting to lock myself in a room where they just cannot reach me, huddled with gummi bears and peaches.

But there’s no secret room. There’s no where to hide, no way to stem the flow of tears. The reasoning fluctuates from ‘but I wanted something too!” all the way over to “my hair is so short they say I look like a boy!” and I hear my mother crawl out of my mouth with a “we can find a reason for you to cry” and then I hear that hated little girl in the back of my chest who blurts out “at your age I was worried sick about my mother, but I didn’t dare cry. What do YOU have to cry about?”

As much as I hate that I’ve said these things, I wonder if I’m so wrong. I do everything possible to make sure they have what they need, and then some. I maintain a reasonably friendly relationship with their father to make sure that stays as normal as possible. I do what I have to, and then I do some more.

And I’m tired. Good sweet crap I’m just, tired inside. Tired of their feelings. Tired of explaining and reasoning. Tired of wondering and hoping and trying to get it all right and then looking for a space to carve for myself. It never ends.

At least when their father was in the house, I could split the crying and the comfort, the need for love and understanding. Now it’s just me, every night, over and over. Vivian’s even started the little “I miss mommy” game which means I’m dealing with the crying over the phone on my days off from them. A part of me, a large part of me, feels like it’s in danger of shutting off completely, my usual compensation for when it gets too much, but I don’t want that. I’m trying to learn how to feel, like normal, how to let it flow through me and past me, around me. Shutting down won’t help, but I feel like I teeter on the edge lately.

It’s all so very much, and by the end of the day, after all the other multitude of stresses that make up normal life, I just cannot find it in my to deal with or care about a child crying. Again. Especially because she’s changed her mind about wanting a bath for the 5th time that night.

Single mommas, how in the hell do you do this?

6 Responses to “Crocodile”

  1. Marcy September 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    May the desire to stay present and not shut down be rewarded and helped along; may the depleted inner reserves be replenished.

    You might find the idea of boring cuddles interesting… perhaps part of your tiredness is trying to do too much for them when they are hurting — there’s a difference between being there for them and doing their work for them…

  2. Kara September 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    I hope that typing it out and sharing it with us here has vented off some of the pressure.

  3. Kelly O September 27, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    I try to set expectations and boundaries. So, I’ll set my phone to count down four minutes, and that’s how much time I sit with each kid at bedtime, alternating nights for who I sit with first. And I tend to be regimented about schedules (dinner at 5:30, baths at 6:30, reading until 7:30, lights out at 8:30), so we all know what to expect and there’s not the nightly negotiating that is so very, very wearing.

    If the kids are complaining about something, I try to say “Wow, that must have really made you mad/sad/irritated. I understand, I would be, too.” Or if it’s about not getting some toy, I’ll say, “Let’s put it on the list for your birthday or Christmas.” Or, “You get a quarter every night. Save your money and buy it yourself!” But I never, ever buy a toy they whine about.

    Sometimes I’ll tell the kids outright, “I’ve had a really tough day. Could you please give me a few minutes alone? I need a time-out before I get really cranky.” Or I might send them outside to play, or find some task I need them to do (draw me a picture of a cat, for example, or set the dinner table), or turn on the TV. Sometimes, if we’re all really cranky, I put glass bottles in plastic bags and we beat the hell out of them with hammers, until the glass is dust and we all feel a little better.

    Also, when I feel like I’m about to lose it, I’ll make myself a stiff drink to smooth out the edges.

    • Marcy September 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

      This whole lifestyle sounds so lovely.

  4. Juli October 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Time and practice. It does get easier. Rewarding yourself helps too. And the occasional night off with a sitter for the kids.

  5. Forgotten (@TwinsMa) October 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    I take it one day at a time. Mine don’t understand when I say I need a minute alone so I go in the bathroom and lock the door for a few minutes and just breathe. After they go to bed at night I take a few minutes and roll across my bed with my arms and legs stretched out and feel myself without little hands gripping me. It’s nice to get my body back for that little amount of time between their bedtime and mine. I make a glass of chocolate milk or sneak a cookie and sit quietly enjoying the silence. I never turned cable on at my house because I never turn the tv on after they are asleep and when they’re awake I never have time to watch it. Sometimes when it gets to be too much, I throw a blanket over the table and let them play so they will be too distracted to cling to me so much. And I agree with some of your previous comments, get a sitter occasionally. Even if only for an hour to get out of the house.

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