The hardest challenge of all for any parent is balance. This statement is especially true if you happen to be a lone parent. Even more so, if you are a lone parent with ambition. It is something that I struggle with on a day-to-day basis. It is incredibly hard being a stay-at-home parent. It is hard being a working parent aswell, don't get me wrong, however, when I was a working parent, I had another person around to help at home; I was essentially relieved of any and all home responsibilities. As I said previously, I was going to talk to you about power and control; but instead I would like to discuss balance, as it something that is weighing heavily on my mind at the moment.
I think one of the greatest issues that I have at the moment is confidence. I think I've always had issues with confidence, in all honesty. I would say they were alleviated when Piglet was born- because Piglet was born; I became incredibly assertive, and the world was my oyster. And it was brilliant. I would argue that 90% of success is down to confidence- if you believe in yourself, then it is far easier to get others to believe in you too.
And then life happened. As it does. I was naive when I found out I was pregnant, I have said this before. I was blind to the implications of what having a baby would actually mean in terms of my ambitions, and goals. I was especially blinkered when it came to how much time a child demands from you. I truly and honestly believed that you could just fit a baby into your schedule, and they would work around you. How ridiculous is that?
It is one year since I received the result for my degree. And it doesn't hurt any less. I thought it would; I thought I would be firmly within that acceptance stage right now, but it still stings like a bitch (I'm actually sobbing as I write this- this is how pathetic I am). And I think that was the point when I stopped believing in myself again. I sucked. That was- (lost my train of thought now; a man from the liberal democrats just called and I had to swiftly cull my pity party so he didn't think I was a wailing train wreck.) What was I saying... Right yes, that was...honestly I really am struggling for words as to describe the utter devastation of it all. That was when I decided that there was no point in trying anymore. I dressed it all up very nicely, with the "luxury of being crap", and "I'm burning my chemistry books", and "having a gap yah", but...it was because I had failed to achieve. And whilst I may not have known what I wanted, I certainly knew that I didn't want failure.
And then, whether it was purely circumstantial, or maybe on a subconscious level it was something I wanted (again, I have mentioned previously about my fear of becoming resentful towards Piglet if I did not succeed), I ended up "losing" Piglet. As my hours at work increased, I saw less and less of her. At the height of everything, there would be instances where I was working a close one day, all day the next, and then an open the third- so I would actually be going days without seeing her on a regular basis. And in my mind, I was shit, so I couldn't complain about it, could I? Of course, the irony is, the lack of my Piglet exacerbated that loss of self-belief- I was Samson without his hair (more biblical references...maybe I'm going to become a born-again Christian...) And so I went from being at the top of my game, where everything was possible, to...worthless. And useless. And trapped. Throw into the mix being in a relationship where I felt very unloved and manipulated and controlled (I feel guilty for writing that down, even now) and I was nothing. I was wasted potential.
I've ended up commenting on that far more than I intended to. I'm supposed to be talking about balance.
The point I'm trying to get to, is that, as it stands I am trying to get that confidence back. I have a long way to go. A very long way to go. I'm sat here checking my emails every two seconds waiting for rejections from universities- even though it's a Sunday, and there is no indication that they are going to reject me. I just don't see why they would want me. Do you know I actually email my draft applications to other people before I send them? Because I think my writing is awful. And yet I do this. I do this, and I think my writing is awful. Seriously, ego is on the floor.
OH MY GOD I'VE GONE SO OFF BEAT.
BALANCE. BALANCE IS THE TOPIC. NOT SELF-PITY. GET OVER IT, WOMAN. MAN UP.
We struggle with balance in the house. We struggle with balance in the house even more now that we are both physically IN the house (i.e. not at work/nursery all day). So, I have things that I want to do, and Piglet has things that she wants to do. And I feel very guilty if I'm less than 95% attentive to her needs. Which is wrong, because I'm aware that it's fine if she's playing by herself, or it's fine if she watches cbeebies for a little bit, but I feel like a crap mum. Whatever I do right now, I feel like a crap mum.
Since she finished nursery she's become a lot...clingier. Much clingier. And she's a lot more shy with other people. Which I understand. That one constant that she has had throughout her life has been taken away. I am now what she is left with. I worry that I have done her a disservice by taking her out of nursery. I worry about absolutely everything, right now, by the way. Like maybe it's best for me to work 80+ hours a week- it shuts my brain up.
For example, I was seriously concerned about her speech. You know when you see two year olds and they're fluently discussing Beethoven and the economy and the impact that Brexit is going to have on future generations? Piglet is not one of those children. So then I decided that she was definitely autistic, because issues with communication is one of the signs. And then I was in a mad panic. I have since looked into the matter, and discovered that she is actually pretty much on track in terms of speech for her age. The eloquent two year olds are not the norm. And at this point, I am only supposed to be able to decipher 50% of what she says- which is about right.
(Also, her emotional intelligence has got to be like within the top 0.1% for her age, so I really was jumping to extremes with my diagnosis there. For example, when I was sobbing over my degree again, she started tickling me to make me laugh because I was sad. Seriously, I am the worst mother ever. For anyone looking to have children, just read my blog and then do the absolute opposite of everything that I have done.)
I'VE GONE OFF COURSE AGAIN AHHHHH. Right, about 95% attentiveness- this is why I went onto speech because I also got stressed that she wasn't talking that much because I didn't talk enough to her (although I've always talked to her since she was tiny- and looked insane whenever we were out in public- so that was another irrational thought right there). By trying to focus 95% of my attention onto Piglet, and what Piglet wants to do, and what is best for Piglet, I am doing myself an injustice. I am killing myself right now. I am exhausted.
I try to make it so that I get Piglet involved in things that I want to do, so then at least I am still with her, and we're still "playing" (kind of- at a push). So, we will "play" cleaning. And we will "play" insanity. And obviously, she likes when we go running (spends half the time going "WHEEEEEEEEEE" whenever we go round corners). But then there are things that it's much harder to get her involved in. For example, masters applications. Going over degree notes. Reading through chemistry books. Considering that she puts up a significant fight when I'm just trying to change her nappy, I have got no chance getting her to sit down and "play" chemistry with me. And, you could argue that I could do these things when she's asleep, but guess what? She doesn't. Piglet does not sleep. I get her to sleep by running. That is why we have evening runs. So, let's say I'm lucky, and she's asleep by 9pm (which is a miracle, fyi)- she will be awake at 4am. And she rarely does naps now. I've tried doing the thing where I put her down for an hour in the afternoon, and tell her it's time to sleep but...to be honest... it makes me feel guilty.
I do want to make the point that I am certainly happier now that I have my Piglet again. Every day is a battle, but it is a fight for something that I love (or maybe it's a fight with someone I love). I do not know where we're heading yet. But I know that right now I am very scared about the uncertainty of everything. There is truth in the "terrible twos" phrase. And I'm really hoping that this is the hardest it gets, because at the moment I'm not strong enough in myself to deal with anymore. We are trying to find balance. And we are trying to find confidence. And we're hoping to use these to start to try again. Because I need to.
This has been one of those posts where my brains just gone with it. I'm not looking for support, or sympathy. I was just in a situation where my two options were: write or go and eat an entire jar of nutella. And I figured it was probably better to write through my feelings than eat them.