So, the last week and a half have not been easy in the land of Tam. It started off with me running a low level depression which evolved into a more darker depression and then transformed into a more lighter space (this afternoon), luckily. I've also had a really bad cold and have generally not been well physically (back ache and rheumatism flare up - no pregnancy sickness or anything like that btw, I didn't get sick with Dylan and looks like I won't with this one either, but I digress).
Dylan has been really sick though recovering now and he has been really difficult for me behaviourally. (yeah, if it's not the sleeping thing another difficulty will pop up, I've been told this is the story of parenthood .. sigh).
Basically, lately, everything with him is drama. Putting on clothes, changing his nappy, going in the pushchair, not being allowed holding a sharp knife, wiping his snotty nose, cleaning his face etc etc, it's all things he doesn't want to do and protests loudly and violently each time we attempt one such activity. (Mostly he cries or throws a tantrum of some sorts).
This is incredibly draining for me. I find it so so unpleasant to have this 'battle of wills'. And I feel so 'hard done' by because we, as parents, give Dylan so much freedom and choice compared to other parents and so it feels unfair that he won't cooperate with things as simple as 'putting on your trousers'. It zaps me of all energy, just one of those battles drains me for the week and they can happen several times in a day.
With all this comes; 1. self doubt ("what is we are doing so 'wrong' that makes him so defiant and non-cooperative?") 2. guilt ("i really don't want to be with him if he's like this, it zaps me from all my energy, i'm such a terrible mother, how can i not want to be with my own child?") 3. self judgement ("you are just too lazy and wary to discipline him properly") 4. confusion/ inner dialogue ("i don't want to shout at him/ get angry with him, i also know shouting isn't effective anyway - so what is effective? is gentle parenting just not getting us anywhere? i am incapable of being a 'nazi parent' - is either option then not desirable? am I just left between a rock and a hard place?") 5. exhaustion 6. sadness 7. depression.
Now, before you start connecting to the difficult stuff, I am currently in a much better place as Andy, Dylan and I have spent an afternoon in the park together and Andy and I were able to really talk and think of strategies to deal with the situation (plus I had a chocolate icecream which always helps! ;)). So, the description of the difficulty above is all about the last week or so and has now changed. I think that the fact that I'm feeling lighter has also made me able to write because I was so down last week I could barely muster up the most basics of tasks.
Anyhoo: in summary: I've been having a tough time dealing with Dylbee's frustrations and needs for freedom and choice and as a consequence have been feeling really low because of it.
I know this is a common phase in toddlerhood (testing the boundaries and really wanting to gain independence), so I know we're not alone, but we do have a more unconventional approach to child rearing so it's not easy to find the gentler approach to sorting out these problems. I know distractions is a method and reinforcing positive behaviour etc, so we're on that, but still, the whole thing is not easy by any means.
I was saying to Andy earlier that I always thought it was a bit of a cliche when people said that 'parenting was the hardest job they had ever had' and now I know that to be a truth truer than true. It *is* the hardest job I've ever done, harder than market research, harder than working in a laundry factory (which I did once for 6 weeks when I was 16) and much harder than being a full time artist and online teacher. It is a relentless, sometimes painful, deeply frustrating, unforgiving job. It can zap you of all you have inside of you and more.
It is a spiritual slap in the face sometimes as it requires a 'giving in' and a 'letting go' of all that you deem is important to you. It requires a disappearing of self, a humility and an attitude to 'serve'. It is the ultimate zen practise. (And I suck at the whole thing, lol -> I'm sooooo resisting, resisting, resisting).
OF COURSE, there are the amazing bits too. It's like this parenthood thing lives on both sides of the spectrum, you have amazingly hard and amazingly joyous moments.
Like, when your toddler hides under a towel making funny noises or gives you a huge sloppy snotty kiss without you expecting it. Or when he snuggles up to you on the couch when he watches waybuloo. Or the way his face lights up when he goes down the slide or when he swings high on the swings. The way he shouts DAAAA DAAAA really loudly to get his daddy's attention. Or the way he suddenly likes daddy's couscous food. Or the way his hair sits like little Mohawks on his head and how he suddenly knows how to put a puzzle together. The way he lights up when he sees you because he hasn't seen you for 7 hours. There are a million amazing moments and a million difficult moments.
This is it. Sitting in the fire. This is all about presence, being with what is.
Friday night, I was in tears, just crying and crying. Same this morning, feeling absolutely miserable. And oh the irony of feeling that I'm going through my darkest (so far) time with Dylan the week after I found out I am pregnant again and thinking to myself: "effing hell what are we doing having a second one?!"
And then I look at the weekly pregnancy info and read that this baby is now the size of a blueberry and that is so cute in my head, I explode a little inside and there it is; the first real bonding. I have a strong feeling the baby is a blueberry girl, very cool if it's a blueberry boy too, but my senses say a girl. And I think about this blueberry girl and all my doubts dissipate, even though she too will probably not want to wear her trousers when she is 19 months old and she'll drive me to despair not wanting to sit in her pushchair or smearing yogurt and snot all over my trousers. And I'll realise again that it's about acceptance and giving in and going with what is and presence, awakeness and presence. That is the river, that is the flow.
But, this is also about self-nurturing and self love and knowing when to take that break before you break. And I'm well aware of that and I'm taking steps. I'm art journalling more and I made a few dollies and I'm taking it much easier with my work load.
The problem with me as well is that when I do catch a virus it impacts on my RA, so I both have to fight off a virus (feeling all snotty and coughing and sore throat etc) while also then flaring up with the RA - massive joint pains) AND I'm pregnant too which is exhausting. So, physically it's even harder to deal with an irate toddler who insists on stabbing himself with the sharpest knife he can find ...
Anyhoo, so I need rest, TLC, love, kindness, empathy, connection, belonging, self love and all them other nice things we tend to forget to give ourselves.
I think I may book myself in for a spa day soon (haven't ever done that before!), I desperately want a pedicure too now that spring is a'coming. :)
So, there you have it, that was my week and a half and the turmoils of my soul, aren't you glad you stopped by? ;)
And here some more of my new art.
Oh and look how cool my 'paint over collage' prints look!
And here a sneak peak at my booootiful dollie who I looove. The wig took me many hours and I ended up covered in mohair, including the insides of my nose. :) More on her soon. x
Thanks for listening pretty reader, I appreciate 'being heard' by you.
Oh ps. Andy is my starshine. He's so amazing in the middle of all of the dark stuff. He's my rock, my all. <3