It is so extremely rare that I have the time to sit down these days and when I do, I should be working. It seems like a gratuitous waste of time to be doing something personal when I could be getting paid to do something very similar. But I’ve become aware lately that my emotional state is all over the place and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I used to keep it in check by debriefing here. When I first started blogging it was just to offload. No one ever read it. I didn’t tell anyone about it and no one knew who I was. Now due to the nature of my job, hundreds of people that I have never met read this blog. You’d think that would make me self censor but I’m pleased that it never has. So if you’re reading this now, you don’t know me. Does it feel weird to be reading my thoughts?
I’m writing because I feel like I’ve reached a bit of a turning point. I’m walking out into the light after being in the dark for way too long. It all has to do with being a parent. When I decided to have my kids I knew I wasn’t ready. I’d been waiting to feel ready for years. When I turned 33 I decided that I actually was never going to be ready, but if I didn’t take the hit then, I’d be lonely when I was old. I wanted family, I just didn’t want kids. In many ways I was right. I wasn’t ready and I wasn’t cut out to be a parent. Don’t get me wrong – like every parent I love my kids to death – but unlike most, I’m prepared to admit that most days I think I made a mistake. It’s not ‘having kids’ as much as ‘being a parent’ that I don’t like. I was so selfish with my life before. I find it so incredibly difficult to be saddled with responsibilities that mean I can’t do what I want to do.
I do all the normal mothering things. I take the kids to music and gym and playgroup. I feed them and put clothes on them and keep them clean. I love them and sing to them and make sure that they feel special and secure. I worry about them and want the best for them. I also wish I could give them to someone else and love them by proxy a lot of the time.
For the first 8 months of their lives, I was the happiest I had ever been. We would walk in the park and I would tell them that we were lucky to be alive. We were fortunate to be living in this paradise and to be able to afford to spend our days as we chose. We were lucky to have each other and all of the people that loved us.
The year that followed has been the hardest of my entire life. I lost my identity. Every day was groundhog day. I would get up in the morning and go through the parenting motions. 10 times a day I would take myself away so that I could vent my anger without the kids seeing. Once a month I’d break down in tears of frustration. The kids are healthy. I have no reason to complain. I’d try to remind myself of my friend who recently died, leaving behind her twins of the same age. She doesn’t get to be happy or sad. She’s just gone. I felt like that should make me feel grateful. It did for a few seconds at a time. Then the kids would rip the pages out of another book or make a hole in the table with the scissors and I’d be back screaming on the inside.
When the grizzling started at 4pm I’d start systematically reminding myself that they don’t have the emotional maturity to be any other way. That doesn’t make the grizzling any less relentless though. I felt that if I had some balance in my life that things would be better. But where would the balance come from? But the time the kids were in bed I didn’t feel like going out. Going partying or even just to the gym was more than I could be bothered with. So I fell into the wine on the couch every night routine and I’d sit there asking myself what had become of me.
I should say now that none of these things have really changed, but they are starting to. The kids are beginning to talk and being able to communicate with them goes a long way to making life easier. They are more independent and they understand consequences. I can let them outside without the fear that they will fall down the stairs or drown in a puddle.
The twin factor is a big one. Unless you have had twins it is impossible to understand. A single baby feels like an accessory if you’ve had twins. You simply can’t do it alone. Now the kids are old enough to be safely bathed by one person. That means that Shaun and I have more freedom. We don’t both have to be home at 6pm.
I long for the day when the kids are old enough to be my friends. I’ll always be their parent, but at the moment they feel like very precious pets, not people.
No one tells you about this side of parenting. People tell you about the tiredness. That’s nothing. I used to CHOOSE to stay up all night. People should tell you about the fact that you completely lose sight of who you are and what you used to stand for. Some people choose to define themselves by what kind of parent they are. That is just part of who I am. Sure, it’s a part that I’m proud of and do to the best of my ability, but there are other parts of me that are just as important. I’m looking forward to hanging out with those parts of me again.
It’s been too long.