Parenting
Comments 50

I get knocked down

We’ve been sick, Amelie and I. We’ve had fevers, headaches, snotty noses and sore throats. She’s had it all week. I was bad for two days but I ate a load of raw garlic (that old trick) and I reckon that killed it.

We’ve been cooped up in the house, staring at the sunshine mocking us through the window. Yesterday I thought we were well enough to go see my parents, but she spent most of the time crying.

I’m finding it hard to handle her emotions. And mine. And not just this week, but for the last few months. She flies back and forth between rage and sadness. She bursts into tears. She goes out of her way to be difficult. She starts fights for no reason. And as soon as we make up she does something else and we’re back to arguing. And I try to remind myself that she’s three, she’s tired, she’s sick, but I keep losing it. I constantly fail to muster up enough patience or understanding, which is exactly what I need, and exactly what I seem to be incapable of.

When I get a minute to think about it, I can be rational. I tell myself not to rise to it, to find out what’s really going on, so that maybe I can manage her with compassion, but I’m really struggling. I keep doing a bad job. And being sick or tired is not enough of an excuse. Yes, it exacerbates things, but it’s not the cause. And I realise that things have been amplified this week because we’re on top of each other, but still.

I take her rejection really badly. Sometimes she won’t look me in the eye when she gets up in the morning. For no reason at all. We start off the day with her pushing me away. And God forbid she wakes up late and doesn’t see Brendan before he leaves for work – epic trauma. She’ll retreat to her room and cry. If I try to hug her she’ll curl up into a ball. She wants him. And that hurts.

It’s hard to keep it together when my only crime is that I’m not her father. When I’m second-fiddle and second-rate, merely loathed for existing. I remind her that I’m a person, a human being with feelings. That I get sick sometimes too. That I can be moody and grumpy, just like her. That I’m sorry I’m not much fun today, that I got no sleep last night. That I’m doing my best and that I love her.

And that’s not to mention the standard mothering transgressions, such as asking her to be polite. Or brushing her hair. Or trying to get her dressed. Or picking the wrong outfit. Or wanting her to eat lunch. Or saying no to the playground because of the INCESSANT rain. Or, the real kicker, wanting to leave her with granny for an hour so I can get out and have some time alone.

Don’t get me wrong, the problem isn’t her. She’s three, it’s her prerogative to be an asshole. The problem is me. How I handle it. I snap. I stoop. I tell her that she’s mean. I threaten to tell daddy that she’s not being nice because I know that’ll get a reaction out of her. I pretend I’m going to cancel granny’s visit. I force false apologies out of her. I change tack and try to be nice. I try to find out what’s wrong and then end up enraged again when she inevitably pushes me away.

I’ve never loved anyone as much as her and that’s why it hurts so much when I do my best and it’s not enough. And when I don’t do my best there’s The Guilt. And when she won’t let me comfort her it’s the ultimate betrayal. It makes me crazy. I say stupid things. I tell her I’m going to go out get a job(!) and find someone else to look after her. I say damaging, immature and pointless things. Threatening a three year old, FFS, aren’t I great? Words designed to get a reaction, to make her worry, to try and fail to get her to appreciate me. It’s pathetic.

She’s three. Not thirteen or twenty-three. Sometimes I forget that. I could say anything and she’d believe me, that’s the awful power I have. The power I’m not meant to utilise. I’m her mother, I’m the last person who should take advantage of her innocence. It’s the worst thing I could do. And what’s worse is that I watch myself doing it, I tell myself not to, and then I do it anyway. And I strive to be better, I am better, and then she knocks me down again.

And I get up again…

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I’m on Facebook.

50 Comments

  1. Very powerful post. Very honest and you are really reflecting. We have all been there. I for one have. I have committed so many parenting sins. As parents we are expected to rise above and sometimes this isn’t easy. sometimes we can’t. We get hurt too, we get resentful, we get angry. but reading your post and similar posts remind us of what we should be doing and that its ok to be just human. thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading this. Thank you for telling the whole truth. I’ve said some shitty things too – like ‘I’m going on holiday…BY MYSELF!!’
    The great thing is they’re so smart and they always know when we’re bluffing.
    They’d drive you crackers at the best of times, never mind you’re ill. Don’t be so hard on yourself 😊

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  3. Oh Momma have I been there!!! I have so much to say but I’ll try with just: mine is 6, & acting out TERRIFYINGLY at school–I have taken the reigns BACK over the last 3 months and the sun has never been brighter in our lives. The funny thing is, all I did was be everything I wanted to be as a Mom, yes All the hard stuff, including empathetic when her socks don’t feel right, including being quiet when she says that she wants to call me names, hates me, etc etc, I have finally jumped to the floor calmly quietly with her during her NASTIEST MOODS & EMpathized; but like a 6 yr old (or 3 yr old) not like an adult would… Anyway Great book on Audible.com that helped me after years of horror & lost jobs due to her ‘unmanageable behaviours’ at daycare, at grocery stores, at home, wishing she’d just go away, etc… The book: The Whole Brained Child. Many more than that. Mom bloggers Speech Therapist, Play Therapists: that might help at your daughters age. Remembering too that 4 times tried 3 times failed, 1-win: better than no-win! Also, taking things away & meaning it. Being quiet myself, pinching my very own tongue–INSTEAD of saying anything nasty & mean like I Have before! Check out “The Orange Rhino Challenge”: it was the start of MY Behaviour changes 3 years ago! Good luck! I been there

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    • Thank you so much for the advice and book recommendations. I think I’ve seen The Whole Brained Child mentioned in one of the groups I’m in, I’ll check it out🙂

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  4. This happens so you realise that the small one is the easy one, even if he keeps you up all night. But then, if he didn’t, it might be that much easier to be gentle with the big one who needs you so much that she pushes you away before you can push her.

    It’s HARD. It’s really hard. I’m constantly at loggerheads with the 7yo right now and we don’t even have a littler one, and she doesn’t prefer Daddy most of the time, and we’re not sick – and still it’s all her fault and never mine. Mother and daughter stuff is HARD.

    You love her and she knows it. That’s all that matters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the parenting perspective bat, that’s a thing isn’t it? I’ve been hit with it. I was there thinking I had one easy child and one asshole. Turns out I have two assholes. There’s a sentence.

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  5. Amazingly honest post, have been there too many time and I never seem to learn from it, the guilt is awful and yet we repeating the mistakes. We are parents but we don’t get to leave our faults in the maternity wards. Keep getting back up xx

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  6. Wonderfully honest post Suzy, I admire you for being so open to the cyber world. I feel your pain, I have experienced it slightly with L but he’s still a bit young so I envisage it more in the future. We all make mistakes and say things we shouldn’t, we always will but as long as you keep getting back up I think you are doing ok xo

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    • Thanks a million. It’s easier to be honest in the cyber world isn’t it? Ask me how I’m doing in real world and I’d say “grand” 😉

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  7. You have written this about me…! I’m going through hell… HELL… with the 6 year old. I can do nothing right. Say nothing right. He is going through some sort of emotional rage at the moment and it seems like all day long all he does is whine at me about everything and anything. I’m on my last nerve some days and, much as I hate to say it, there have been days where I’ve lost my rag. Fucking lost it. Snapped. Psycho Mammy here I am. Today I took them to a magic show in the shopping centre and instead of enjoying the show he spend the entire time whining at me about being starving despite just having lunch before we left. He whined and whined and whined until I could feel my eye twitching. When we got back to the car I got him an ungrateful little sod. We argued and then I felt the Guilt and ended up in dealz buying them sweets. The I said WIll we go home and get a sandwhich then and he said NO THANKS I’M NOT HUNGRY!

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. It’s 4pm and I’m eyeing up the gin. Honestly I actually am. Stressed out and emotionally drained.

    Sorry. Meant to just leave a quick comment saying you’re not alone!!!!!😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes by five times, the youngest hasn’t progressed to that stage yet. Yet. She’s working on it though.
    It’s hell, the guilt is worse, and the ensuing feeling of “wtf is this person?” (Me, not the child!!) Hope you are feeling better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a great post. My middle guy is like this, he is now 4.5. Every day there are multiple meltdowns. Every day. He is extremely entertaining but he is ferociously angry too, mostly at me. Everything is a drama, its so wearing. I have been fired as his mother more times than I care to think about. He says searingly hurtful things to me, and sometimes I react back in anger and its not good. I hardly ever talk about it really honestly, there are many funny moments in the middle of the bad so I focus on them.
    I really worry what he’s going to be like at school when he starts. I’m going to listen to that podcast that was recommended above too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so hard. School is another can of worms, more outside influences, a barrier between us and them.
      But yes, the funny bits are mighty and without them, sure, what’s the point?

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  10. Trish says

    Brilliantly honest post! Thanks. Sometimes I feel that I am the only one with a 3 foot arsehole! And worse of all, I made that arsehole myself!
    The good auld guilt gets me every time!
    Not to be wishing away their precious childhoods but bring on their early 20s when I hope they are reasonable humans!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m big on pretend crying. Sometimes it’s real crying too, and I think that having a little sob so they can see you have feelings too is preferable to roaring at them for the same reason. Not that the 3 year old has much empathy but it stops him in his tracks…sometimes. Then I get a hug from him and I feel bad for tricking him.

    It will all be a bit better, if only temporarily when you’re whizzing around in fresh air and marginally healthier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hugs fix everything, assuming they’ll let you. Mine is scabby about handing hers out. I suppose I’ll be thankful for that when she’s a teenager…

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  12. We’ve been having the same thing here. A lingering illness that lasted about 4 weeks combined with a period of tantrums about absolutely anything. Daddy leaving for work usually means over an hour of sobbing and screaming, but he then gets ignored if he’s home for bedtime. It’s the days when he kept me up most of the night before that are almost impossible to get through. I’m not sure which of us behaves more immaturely on those days!

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    • That sounds hard. 4 weeks? Jesus. This has been the longest week of my life. She had a full-on tantrum this morning, which is very rare for her, after a night of very little sleep. She raged until she passed out. I’m downstairs now skulking the coffee. I rarely say this but I seriously need a holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, 4 weeks – stupid bugs and stupid bad weather. I had it for about 2 weeks, but the little guy has been in a heap since Christmas and it really messed with both our sleep and sanity. Lots of raging himself to sleep here too. We’re finally in better shape this week and we do have a holiday coming up (thank god). Though I’m a bit worried I’ll just spend it getting tantrumed at in a new location! Not enough coffee and chocolate in the world for this…

        Liked by 1 person

      • At least a tantrum in another country is a novelty! The lack of sun has a lot to answer for, shitty immune systems, stuck inside all day, the works. A bit of sunshine makes a massive difference.

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  13. All of this by 4 and a bit, the 5th is on this road. I’ve said shitty things, hid in the loo, shed fake tears, followed by real tears. I hope getting it out has been of some help? And hugs to you, this time, it’s crap, really crap; but, it will pass xx

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  14. Sophie says

    When my son was three he went through a real ‘Daddy’ phase and seemed to hate me for no reason. Nothing I did was right, he never wanted to be with me or near me, would physically push me away and shout at me to leave him alone as he wanted his Daddy (who was at work – and spoiled him rotten as soon as he walked in the door. Making the contrast of being with Mummy all day all the more stark. The hurt I felt inside was unreal as it had taken me eight years to conceive him, he was all I had ever wanted, It took all of my effort not to react to his negativity, as I realised if I reacted as I wanted to he’d be pushed away for ever. So through gritted teeth I carried on ‘happy mummy’ and after six months the phase had passed and he was back to my gorgeous little boy. He’s now 11 and we adore each other and are very close. I will always remember the deep, deep hurt he caused me for many months, but he was only 3 – he wasn’t doing it on purpose – he was just being 3. I do feel for you though – massively – if you are feeling anything like the pain I felt as the rejection – it is almost hard to bear. Hang on in there, keep your daughter feeling your love – the phase will pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds very painful. Only this morning I said to my husband “what’s the point? She hates me.” She doesn’t, I know that, but it was a rough morning and I let it get on top of me. I think the worst part is the shock that this person who you love so fiercely, and in your case who you fought for so long to bring into the world, is capable of causing such hurt. Especially at such a young age. You might expect it from an older child – a teenager maybe – but not your 3 year old. Anyway, yes, we’ll hang in there. Not much else to do, eh?!

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  15. Last week I told my three that I’ve had enough and I’m getting a full-time job and they’re all going to creche, and all three cried and I felt terrible except slightly (guiltily) relieved too because they finally stopped shouting and fighting so that I wouldn’t get a full-time job. I reckon all any of us can do is keep getting back up again and starting over.

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    • Sorry to hear you had a shit week. At least they were upset at the prospect. I said it to Amelie a few months ago and she seemed rather excited by the prospect…

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  16. Wow, I am so glad that I’m not the only one who feels like this!

    I feel like all I do is shout at my kids (my five year old in particular) and once I start, it’s a downwards spiral!

    It’s easy to portray a perfect life on social media but to admit you have issues like everyone else is brave, well done you and thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yes I agree there are far too many fairytale depictions of parenthood that only portray the highlights and glamorous outfits and good bits of life. I’m all for positivity, but I think it’s important to include the shit bits too, the struggles, the bits we’re not proud of – they’re worth documenting too. Thanks for commenting.

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  17. Oh God. Mine is three MONTHS old and I’m complaining because she wants to be held all the time at the moment, but secretly I’m sort of pleased. I can’t imagine how I’d deal with it if she goes through a phase like that… at least I’ll know I’m not alone! Thanks for sharing.

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    • Yes I saw that recently! It did cross my mind – the irrationality, the night terrors etc. But since we wormed her there was no evidence of them dying off so I don’t think she had them. I think we’re just dealing with a threenager who has had a big shift in her world: gaining a sibling, starting school, being ill on and off for months, and this virus which has absolutely crippled us both (mine has had a reprieve). She seems to have developed an ear infection on top of everything else. It’s just been a shit winter I think. A bit of sun and we’ll all be grand, maybe.

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  18. Yes, if the squirmy wormies have been ruled out, it sounds like typical threenager behaviour, exhasburated by a new sibling, intermittent illnesses and shite Irish weather🙂

    I have a 3yr8month old and a 16 month old – I feel your pain:-)

    Best book I’ve read is Siblings Without Rivlivary – it’s the same writers as How to Talk so Kids will Listen and listen so kids will talk – there’s a lot of crossover between the two. Which is a bonus as who has time to read all these parenting books when actually trying to do this parenting lark too!🙂

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    • I’ve seen that book pop up a few times, will have to have a look at it. Thank god there are books to tell us what to do!!

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  19. Feeling your anguish so sending some warm hugs through the power of WordPress. My daughter is 5 and we battle daily and it hurts so so much. I feel like public enemy number1 sometimes! But this weekend, things have been better. She stayed with her Nanny and Grandad for 3 whole nights and when she came back yesterday she flew down the pavement into my arms and told me how much she’d missed me!

    It restored my faith that she does love me – and like me. Distance made the heart grow fonder. I have no doubt that next week we’ll be back to our old ‘You HAVE to brush your teeth’ ways, but i will remember that look and hug she gave me when she returned home when times get tough again.

    x

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  20. Jessica says

    Your posts about motherhood are so honest and reassuring, they really make me feel better. As a stay at home mum too, it feels like everyday I go to bed thinking about how I failed today and what I will do differently tomorrow. This of course goes to crap once the merry-go-round of dirty nappies, laughing, tears and tantrums starts again at 6am. Try not to be too hard on yourself, you are dealing with a 3 year old who is probably still a bit jealous of her little brother and if that wasn’t hard enough you have a baby who is no doubt not allowing you get much sleep at night so you couldn’t be at your most rational. If you need to let it all out, cry in the shower (while shouting “mummy will be out in 2 seconds”). Besides, didn’t all our mums go through this and do we remember it? No. We remember beautiful summers and trips to the swings. Yours probably won’t remember this either, you tend to look back at your childhood with rose tinted lenses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true, and isn’t that the beautiful thing about it? It’s like a soft-focus get-out-of-jail card. You only realise the reality of things when you’re seeing it from the adult point of view. Thanks🙂

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  21. I could have wrote this. It’s nice to read someone else goes through it too. Do you find it eases the guilt knowing you are not alone? I have been working so hard on changing my reactions and slowly but surely there is a little less of it each time this issue flares up again. I have no advice because I am here in the trenches with you.
    I guess the truth is, no matter how hard we try, we will never get it right; and they’ll still grow up and think of all the wrongs we did until one day they have a child of their own and call us sobbing about how sorry they were for being a little fucknuts all those years but by then we’ll be on the cruise ship sipping cocktails not giving a shit.
    That reminds me. I should ring my mother😉

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    • There’s definitely safety in numbers! The book that was recommended to me above, the Whole Brain child – I for the No Drama Discipline one (by same authors and near enough same content) and it’s really really good, it’s making me feel like I have a strategy for dealing with her, and it constantly says it’s ok to screw up. Always nice to hear🙂

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      • It’s OK to screw up- I keep telling myself that if She sees me being good with ‘screwing up’ she might go easier on herself when she’s older. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but my folks never (ever) apologised after ‘screwing up’ and I think I never had the opportunity to know that that kind of behaviour is a) unacceptable (I deserve to treat and be treated better than this) and b) it’s part of the human condition (I can forgive people and myself for inevitable behaviour). I must dig out those books. Thanks for the recommendation.

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