This was a hard post to write. Well not hard to write, hard to publish.
Because it’s about me. A chink in my armour. A shared secret if you will….
Don’t read into this. This is not a cry for help or attention-seeking. It is what it is.
And it is honest. And God it’s hard to be honest when you’re talking about yourself. Your true self. It’s a lot easier to joke. To laugh it off….
It’s hard because we have this sense of self that we try to maintain. To live up to. How we want people to see us. How we want them to think about us. And when that ’ideal’ is threatened, it can make us feel vulnerable. A fraud even.
For me I want people to see a strong, happy, grounded person.
And for the majority I am that person. Mostly.
However for just a short moment I’m going to take a risk and drop my mask. And let you in, just a little. Just for a moment in time….
The truth is that recently I haven’t felt that ‘well’. I’ve felt flat and low. In fact last weekend was the depth of my ‘lowness’.
Up until recently could feel myself getting progressively worse. Progressively more impatient. Progressively more angry. Spiralling.
My parenting mojo gone. No patience. No creativity. No relaxed level of parenting. Nothing of the CRAP parent I claim to be.
Replaced by a short-tempered, angry, impatient mother. A friend without spark. An absent wife.
And I can’t say I liked this replacement much.
She rarely smiled.
The extra lines in her brow evidencing her frown was more frequent than the alternate.
But most people didn’t see this impostor. They fell for the facade. The thin smile and in-complex conversations. If people noticed, they were polite and didn’t ask. I didn’t mind. I didn’t want to explain. Even though it was something so simple.
The voice of this woman echoed in my children’s interactions with one another. They growled demands and shouted inexplicably. I cringed when I heard them. It made me both sad and disappointed because they are, in part, my reflection. It was my fault they acted the way they did.
My two youngest children have been more challenging than usual. They’re just being their usual 2 and 3 year old selves. But the person who has overtaken the ‘ordinary me’ hasn’t had much of the aptitude to work with them.
To teach them.
To speak with them.
To tolerate their ‘button pushing’.
Mostly because this person had accessible ‘buttons’ everywhere.
I hated myself for being like that. For letting myself act like that. Filled with guilt and regret at every turn.
Just recently 3 year old Mayhem said to me: ‘You’re always growling at me Mummy’,
I replied, ‘it’s because you haven’t been listening and you’ve been acting so naughty lately’ (yes I tell my children when they’re acting naughty).
He replied ‘Well I’m not going to be your friend anymore’.
I don’t blame him.
A small part of me wanted to poke my tongue at him and reply ‘FINE THEN!!’ But thankfully the small, sane part of my brain made me hesitate.
To the person in me who studied psychology so many years ago, reading this kind of post sends alarm bells ringing.
Shit she must be suffering from depression. Anxiety. Stress. Mania.
She’s not coping. She needs help.
Others would be thinking What’s she going on about? There’s plenty of people out there doing it tough. More tough than her.
Single parent families.
Families with sick kids. I mean really sick kids.
People with abusive partners.
People battling their own disabilities or demons.
Families with more kids, who work more, earn less money and have more debt.
She’s got nothing to complain about. Not even close.
The thing is I’m not complaining. At all.
Not. Even. Close.
I’m merely expressing. Analysing. Sharing.
Apart from the usual childhood illnesses I have three healthy kids.
I have a husband who works a lot but still comes home most nights.
And he’s a good husband. He’s not perfect but I prefer him not to be.
And we’ve got debt. Enough to make us uncomfortable but not enough to quite reach for the powdered milk.
From the outset we’re the run-of-the-mill ‘happy family’. And truth-be-known, we are. Most of the time.
So why the glum?
Why the outpouring of negativity?
The simple truth is – I’m tired. Really tired. Like crawl-into-a-hole-and-sleep-for-a-year tired.
For what seems like an eternity I haven’t had a solid nights sleep. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but getting up up to four times a night then staying awake for extended periods takes it’s toll. Coupled with children that arise before the sun has removed the blankets results in…..well let’s just say I feel a little ‘aged’.
And the effects have been cumulative. Like a snowball gathering momentum and size as it plummets down a slope.
I usually manage extremely well with small amounts of sleep. But your body (and mind) gets to a point when it lets you know enough is enough.
I got to a point recently that if I didn’t do something I was going to splinter. Really splinter.
So I spoke. To someone who I knew would listen. In my case it was The Chook Whisperer and thankfully for me he knew I needed him to listen. Really listen. I needed him to help. To take charge. I needed sleep. Without it I would not continue to be able to function.
So I had the night off. No kids. No getting up in the wee hours of the night. No child sleeping on top of me or crying for me to get him milk/water/tissues/rub his little chest with Vicks.
I slept in one of the boys’ beds. Alone. With the door closed.
I didn’t hear 2 year old Mischief wake all through the night with a crusty cough and a dripping nose.
I didn’t hear 3 year old Mayhem call out my name in his night-time fearful voice asking me to check on him.
I didn’t hear 6 year old Cuddles softly snore or sleep-talk.
I just slept. And slept. And slept. I didn’t wake once.
8 hours of bliss.
8 hours to give me some level of mental stability.
To wake with a smile. Ready for the day. To see the sun a little brighter.
Something so simple.
I was nicer to the kids. Nicer to the Chook Whisperer. Small menial things didn’t matter. With just one nights sleep. Imagine what would happen with a week of decent sleep.
It scares me to think how torturous sleep-deprivation is. How I let myself become so deprived of something so important that it affected my ability to function.
I was able to go through the motions, I put a smile on my face, but inside I was bubbling. Like a volcano just on the verge of eruption. My personality tainted and whithered without a proper dose of vitamin sleep.
I’m glad I asked for help. I’m sorry I waited so long. I don’t want that woman back again any time soon……….