I was inspired to write this blog when I read a good, but not great post on Facebook on SAHMs. It was good because it was inclusive and covered some relevant content. But I didn’t think that it wasn’t great because it left a lot to be said. Either that or I am genuinely the worst parent in the world and no one else actually f***s up like I do. It made me realise that parenting is just one aspect of my reality, that seems to differ from others – or the version that is in the public domain. And you know what? That’s fair enough. Just because I am mad enough to put it all out there, warts and all does not mean that others should. But for the record, I’ve got a few failings (and strengths!) that I would like to share, to remove the taboo, shame and guilt surrounding them – maybe as self-therapy, maybe to set realistic targets or maybe to face my fears. Who really knows but it will be fab if this is of help to others as well as to me.
So where to start, there are a few to choose from but let’s go with parenting first……..
I do swear in front of my kids – in everyday life, I swear, quite a lot to be honest. My kids know, that just like drinking alcohol and driving a car, it’s an adult activity. They are not allowed to swear, unless we are talking about Donald Trump and then they can say ‘tw*t within the walls of our home. And that’s the truth, I’m not joking.
I do cry and get upset in front of the kids. I also tell them why, so they know about hormones, the menopause, grief, feeling sh*t because I’ve hurt someone, feeling frustrated because I’ve argued with someone and feeling down because parenting is challenging and I don’t always get it right. I am really quite honest with them.
Sometimes I do argue with my husband in front of them. In the moment I am not always big enough to maintain control of my emotions and wait until they are out-of-the-way before letting rip. They know that we love each other deeply, but equally, relationships are not always easy and I don’t pretend that they are – especially when my husband yet again leaves his dirty underpants on the bathroom floor.
Sometimes, I do judge them or assume they are going to act in a certain way and shout. Usually, because I am so fu**ing frustrated at saying the same thing, time and time again. I know I should stay calm and respond in a more rational, measured way, but I don’t always have the energy to do so and sometimes I just don’t want to – they have pissed me off and I am cross, that’s the honest truth.
On the upside, I love my children completely and unconditionally. I put them first, I keep them safe, I keep them healthy and I try to help them find their own happiness, not that as defined by others. I would defend them with my life and will never stop trying to be a better parent, every day of my life.
In the past, I have treated my boyfriend’s badly. I have been unfaithful many times, I have been uncaring and selfish. I have no excuse – my objective was to enjoy myself, with no regard for their feelings, because we were young and I didn’t think it mattered, that’s it.
I have lied to, manipulated and taken my husband for granted. I have taken his money, all of it, blamed him for my lost career and at times, assumed the worst from him. Of course, I shouldn’t judge him by my standards or past experiences. He only snaps when I’m such a bitch, I think I could probably get the Pope to lose it.
Alternatively, I love deeply and I am intensely loyal. I adore my husband. I intrigue him, he never knows what to really expect. He loves my sense of adventure, having an intellectual sparring partner and the family unit I create around us. We complete each other.
As a teenager, I treated my mum badly and sometimes as an adult too. I was angry with her, for sometimes being unhappy and not being able to meet my emotional needs. I didn’t see her challenges or hurt, only my own needs.
I adored my dad but often took him for granted too. As a teenager and in my early 20’s, I constantly asked him for money. I expected him to take me where ever I needed to go. I wanted to be the ‘one’ and fought ferociously for his attention and approval, often at the cost of others.
I have fallen out with my sisters for extended periods of time because I am stubborn, unable to see someone else’s perspective and find it almost impossible to forgive, particularly if I am hurt. In reality, I am petrified of rejection and I assume the worst, so I proactively reject as my primary form of defence.
I have avoided my mum for extended periods following my father’s death because I cannot bear to see her grief and the empty armchair where he used to sit.
But I am kind, I love them all and when the ‘chips are down’, would do anything to help and protect them. No-one can laugh with me the way my sisters do nor read each other’s minds in quite the same way. We are so vastly different yet so deeply connected. A beautiful dichotomy of personalities and lives.
I have talked about my friends behind their back, I have been judgemental at times. I have expected my friends’ actions to meet my needs – because it suits me. If they haven’t, I have taken my ‘bat and ball’ home and cut them out of my circle. I have intentionally left friends out of social gatherings because of something they may have said or done or been. I have not accepted them for who they are but punished them for it instead.
But I take responsibility for my actions. If I intentionally or unintentionally hurt someone, I apologise and try to right the wrong. I genuinely care for my friends and try to tell them how special they are. When I catch myself thinking mean thoughts, I try to understand what’s really behind them and remember that we all have our challenges and short-comings.
I judge myself up on a daily basis. I over-analyse most things, worry about worrying, think through every possible combination of ‘what can go wrong’ and assume everything must be my fault although, in reality, it is rarely about me – people have their own shit to manage. It is truly exhausting. I am spoilt, I have always been spoilt. I associate being spoilt with being loved, so I’m inconsolable when I am not. And ‘no’ just means I need to look for another way to achieve my desired outcome, whatever the cost to others. I expect forgiveness when I am sorry, but I am not always able to give it to others. I’m too proud, afraid of being told to sod off and struggle to contain my ego. I have been heavily medicated because I was too afraid to face life as an adult, without my dad by my side and was unable to find any other way to live with the blackness of grief.
I watch my husband flog his guts out every week to pay for our life, my debt and enable me to ‘play’, at doing what I want to without really having to commit. Because a lot of the time, I’m not able to be anything more – my mental health is volatile, to say the least. I still don’t really know why and maybe I never will, it just is what it is – depression, anxiety, grief, hormones, self-pity, getting stuck call it what you will, it can render me really quite useless.
Having said all of that, I am mega proactive about my mental and physical health – I do not take it for granted and ensure I have the right support mechanisms in place to make the very best of what I have. I’m a ‘trier’, I keep fit, I am constantly working on myself and I am not afraid to show who I am to the wider world.
And so I feel the need to write all of this down and share it in public – to ensure my reality is true and not a fabricated, shiny version, which can only serve to hurt others. I’m the master of optical illusions and I’ve spent years hiding behind them. People seem to find it easy to believe the airbrushed version of me, including me – I’ve even fooled professional counsellors before. But here is the truth, the public declaration of my failings and strengths.
That’s my reality, no bulls•••t. The question has never been about whether I had the capacity to be self-aware, but whether I am prepared to actually use that capacity, to do something about the parts of me that I can change and accept the parts of me that I cannot. It’s a complex equation but not unsolvable and I’m a determined student.
I’ll never be ‘there’ but day by day, I will change what I can, accept what I cannot and be who I am meant to be.
Is it really so bad to just be honest?