It’s been eons since I’ve written a parenthood related post so I thought I would share one today.
I wanted to write something totally honest, and open, because in this day and age, it’s easy to forget that behind all those lovely instagram photos, and wonderful sounding tweets or Facebook status updates that we frequently see, there’s a real life person, with real life problems.
Lots of people share honest and truthful posts, but there are a few who don’t and it seems we’re all a little but guilty of wondering if we’re bad, because they make things look so good.
Personally think it’s okay to hold your hands up and say “oh, I fucked up, but here I am telling the tale.”and the reason I’ve chosen to write about my mistakes as a mother, is because I’m not only showing you that we all get things wrong, but to remind myself that making mistakes is a huge part of being a parent, or human being for that matter, and it’s not all sweetness and light all the time. Which, in total truth, I spend many hours wishing it was.
So, it took me a little while to come up with 5 things I could share, which sounds quite silly really, because I know I’ve made hundreds of mistakes, but I wanted to write about something that I had done that was bad in a way that really made me think about my parenting choices. And weaning with jarred foods instead of real food might be a mistake, but it’s just not that big of a deal, so up first…..
That time I pulled Willow’s Elbow out.
Right, you’re probably thinking what a horrible mother! But genuinely, I did pull out her elbow. Basically, I pulled her radius out of her elbow joint. Yep. I did that.
Willow was about 7 or 8 months old when it happened and I had gotten into the habit of picking her up by her hands. She liked it and it made life easier for me. It was just how I handled her. One day, I was getting her coat on ready to leave and I picked her up by her hands to move her further up the sofa so that I could put her shoes on. She did a little face that looked uncomfortable, but she didn’t cry so I thought ‘hmm, prehaps I just hurt her a tiny bit.’
I got her in her car seat and off we went. I kept playing that little face grimace over in my head and thought I would check her over when I reached where we were going. When I checked her over, she was happy, fine, laughing, but if I moved her arm she would start to cry. Giving her a bottle, she took it with one hand and the other stayed limp at her side. So we went to the hospital and the nurse took a look and said “yep, pulled elbow.” and swiftly popped it back into place. It’s a common injury in children under 5 and often happens when a parent grabs their kid when they’re running off towards a road or something. It’s easy to sort out and takes seconds at that. But, the lesson I learned that day wasn’t so much about child’s anatomy, but more about the way I was handling her.
It took me about a week or so, but I stopped picking her up by her arms, and when I see a friend or relative playing with Willow, or their own children, and I think it could cause a pulled elbow, I tell them this story. They laugh, I laugh, willow giggles, but the moral of the story is actually, don’t pull your baby by the arms!
Calling her fatty.
Willow has many, many nicknames. Whump, Whumpy, Grumple, Wumple, Miss Kaboodle, Kaboodle Kid, Miss Moosie, Baby Bear and…. Fatty. At least for the first few years of her life anyway. We stopped calling her that, when one day last year she said
“I’m fat, aren’t I mum?”
Honestly, there is nothing more heart breaking than hearing your 4 year old call herself fat. It didn’t stop there. We still, to this day, often get told by her that she’s fat. Or
I’m a fatty bum!
It makes me want to pull my ears off.
Most women, and men too, will frequently comment on their body and say how they look fat. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t included in that bracket. But hearing a 4 year old girl say I’m fat is disturbing. Collectively, we socially accept the word fat as a throwaway comment; you’re having a bite to eat and decide you want some dessert too,
“you know me! I’m fat!” (and so we all laugh together because that’s funny as fuck.)
But realistically, it’s neither funny, nor something we should so flippantly say. It’s taken me hearing my healthy, happy, beautiful girl talking about her body image and referring to herself as fat to realise that actually, we shouldn’t be using it in her day-to-day life, let alone as a frigging nickname! The thought of my daughter becoming a self conscious teenager obsessed with body weight SCARES me. And because I have been a teenage girl, I know that even if we don’t call her fatty, someone else will.
That’s the way society is now. That’s the way teenagers are treated these days.
Now, when she says she’s fat. We tell her she isn’t, we say “dont be silly! You’re just short and stocky like mummy and daddy!” and what I also do, is celebrate my curves in her company. She frequently sees me naked and more frequently comments on how my belly wobbles like jelly, but I let her have that, I let her rub it and wobble it and scrunch up my scars to see how they look because she needs to know that there is nothing wrong with having a jelly belly, and if I can show her that then I am doing something right. And you know what? The fascination in her eyes when she sees how my skin changes when she pushes and pulls it, and how when I tell her about how she grew in my tummy, makes me love all of my curves and scars. If I show her that I love my body, hopefully she will forget that we ever called her fatty, and celebrate her own body shape with pride and confidence.
I smacked my child. More than once.
I’m not going to sit here and say she deserved it. She never did. But there were times when she was potty training, terrible twos, tantrums, not listening, and every other scenario that can happen in which a parent becomes infuriated, when it felt right. I did it before I knew I had done it, and writing this PAINS me. It hurts my soul.
While I don’t want to sit here and blame the fact that I physically hurt my child on my post natal depression, I have to say it. Naturally, I am placid, calm, forgiving, and patient, but during the years I suffered with post natal depression, I wasnt myself. I was angry all the time, I had an incredibly short fuse and an inability to calm down after long, hard days.
I try not to blame PND for my actions, but when I look back at who I was during that time, and compare that person to who I am today, I was out of my mind.
Hindsight is horrible in this instance because I know back then that I didn’t think it would ever get better. I thought that’s who I was a mother.
I’ve been to life coaching, I have completed STEPS, I have had therapy, and I am better. I havent smacked Willow for over a year now and I know our relationship has improved immensely because I have learned to control my temper again, but one thing always sticks in my mind. It’s a memory, and I remember it at least once a week. It plagues me, but it serves as such a huge reminder of who I was and how bad things were that when I see it flash behind my eyes I know I NEVER want to lay my hands on her again. In this memory, I smack her on her leg. She cries and I sit her on the sofa.
What hurts me, and my eye are stinging writing this, is not the fact that I hit her. It’s how SMALL she was. She wasnt a baby, she was a toddler, a walking, talking, cheeky toddler, but in my mind’s eye, she looks so tiny, so small, so young. And that makes my tummy turn whenever I think about it.
I smoke. I’m not the first parent to smoke and I wont be the last. I’ve never smoked in the same room as her, or in the car when she’s in the car. We’ve always either gone into a different room or outside. What makes this a mistake for me is not the fact that she knows, but more so how she’s found it interesting over the years. I vividly remember being a child and being fascinated with my mum smoking, as a kid, I really enjoyed the smell of her cigarettes and, over the years, I have seen that curiosity in Willow.
Have you ever seen a 2 year old trying to make a roll up cigarette?
Because I have, and it’s not pretty. Or funny.
I let that happen though, by being complacent about her seeing me smoking and making my cigs. One day, when I was cleaning, she took it upon herself to make a rollie.
I found my two year old sat on my dining room floor with a rolling paper, a filter and a small handful of tobacco in her hands, trying to roll the tobacco into the paper.
It annoys me that I let it happen. I don’t regret the actual smoking, I dont, it’s the selfish side to my addiction. But I do regret thinking that my innocent child isn’t going to be totally interested with what I do, and want to replicate that. What’s wors is I think that she will probably try smoking when she’s a teenager, she might not, but she might, and as a parent I wouldn’t want that for her. As a smoker, I dont want to quit. So everyday I fuck up because she still sees me smoking out the garden.
Dipping her under the water as a baby.
This one bugs me, and I’ve probably made it sound worse than what it is. I wasnt trying to drown my child, I promise, but we used to go swimming a lot when she was a baby and for some unfathomable reason, I thought it would be a good idea to dip her under water from time to time. The logic behind that was that I thought it would help her get used to water, desensitize her, and turn her into one of those water loving babies. In reality, what I caused was a fear of being underwater.
Like, really bad.
Willow hates getting her face wet, her hair wet, her head wet, and her ears wet. Whenever I tell her to jump into a pool now, she gently slips herself into the water to avoid going underneath. God Knows what the fuck I was thinking when I thought about dipping my kid under water, but I thought I was doing a good thing at the time.
Actually, I was doing a terrible thing that caused my daughter to distrust me when we’re swimming and have a fear of being beneath the surface.
Well done Faye. You really nailed it that time.
The sad thing is , she LOVES swimming with a passion, she asks us to go swimming at least once a week and she loves baths and showers as long as none of her ‘sensitive’ places aren’t at risk of being submerged. But, when we go swimming and I go anywhere near her, all I get is “DONT DIP ME MUM!!” – by the way, I stopped dipping her before she was one. God honest truth, it’s been nearly 4 years since I last dipped her and she still remembers, she still gets concerned and she still distrusts me when I’m near her in a pool. #sadface
And there we have it guys, 5 ways in which I have fucked up. Some might say these aren’t reasons to feel like I messed up, but to me, these 5 things often come up when I am feeling bad or as fleeting memories in quiet times. I’m not ashamed to admit to these things, what I have shared here is nothing I wouldnt share with a family member, or a friend. I consider anyone who reads this blog a friend and I wanted to show that we all make mistakes. In my case, some pretty epic failures. What I hope people will take from this post, if not so much how bad I am at parenting (becuase, lets be honest, a few of those up there are pretty fucking terrible) but the fact that actually, we’re all guilty of getting it wrong when it comes to rasing our children.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post,
(Promise you won’t phone social services after reading it?!)
and take from it that mistakes are great,
as long as we learn what we can from making them.
As always, thanks for reading!