About Me

Kent, United Kingdom
I have the perfect family but still struggle to find the light in the darkness of post-natal depression.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Control...or a lack of...

I'm not really sure where to start.
And I'm not really sure whether this will be a "yay" or "boo" post. Maybe I'll leave that up to you to decide...
So on Monday Miss T and I decided to try a new toddler group.
It didn't go well, for either of us.
For her, it was a new place, with lots of new people, and on a morning when she was feeling a bit under the weather.
This manifested itself firstly in clinginess ("You come mummy" whenever she moved to a different activity) and then in bad behaviour (I almost wrote naughtiness but we all know we're not allowed to say that...). She snatched toys from the youngest child there and then when told to give them back, threw them across the room.
I responded as I would anywhere else - with a warning, followed by a spell on the hastily-introduced 'naughty chair'.
But I think that's where the positive aspects of this experience end.
I'm not sure what I was expecting from the morning but I found the actual reality quite stressful and frustrating. Every other child seemed to be behaving beautifully, every other child sat down nicely for drink and biscuit time while mine whinged and ran off and every other mum was able to chat and enjoy themselves.
As I'm sure you've noticed by now, when I get stressed or frustrated I get emotional and I'm afraid - and embarrassed - to admit that tears were soon on their way and I felt a complete failure on all levels.
A complete meltdown followed, for me and her, and it wasn't much fun.
Nor was the conversation afterwards with a fellow mum, who I'm sure meant well, but said I was letting Miss T control me because I went with her when she asked. I let it go at the time - I wasn't in a fit state to do anything else! - but it's another of those points I've been mulling over ever since.
I'm not sure that it is a control thing. I see it more as support and reassurance for a little girl who's still learning about the world and her place in it, and who is only just learning that she is a separate person to her parents.
I see it as my role to provide comfort when it's needed rather than to question the validity of the request for my input.
I don't dispute that other children are more confident than my own, or that this is partly due to my parenting and the choices I have made.
But I'm not comfortable being the kind of parent who just shoos their child away when they ask for support.
We will be going back to the group because I feel it's exposure she needs to prepare her for preschool and school.
But I'm hoping next time will be less of a drama...
So...is that a positive or a negative?!

Friday, 8 May 2009


So we survived, naturally. And it's another of those situations where I'm not that sure why I was so worried.
We scrubbed the house from top to bottom, although I did resist coaching Miss T and am very proud of myself for that.
It did feel like an impending inspection of parenthood rather than a routine check and opportunity to ask advice from a health professional, and if I'm honest, I feared my parenting skills were about to be found lacking.
That fear was not allayed when Miss T decided to spend the morning in a rare grumpy mood where nothing was right and there was much pouting and foot-stamping.
But the sun came out when the health visitor arrived (not literally, sadly - my hairy hound from hell, who had to be shut in the garden while she crossed the threshold before being brought in for a proper introduction, ended up all soggy and forlorn) and she amazed me with her confidence and inclination to be sociable.
The checks themselves were ridiculously easy for her and she demonstrated a range of things that weren't being checked, like imaginative play (making mummy be a dog and leading me round on the aforementioned hound's lead), language development (talking constantly!) and kindness (giving said hound a cuddle when she accidentally stood on his foot).
And as a result, the official verdict is "excellent communication and development" and "very sociable" with "no concerns".
I can't describe how proud that makes me, which is actually a strange feeling. Not for the obvious reasons, including the fact that our once non-existent bond is now so strong, but because it is coupled with a sort of dread of the future.
I'm desperate not to heap the kind of pressure on her to be perfect that I experienced but am already slipping into dangerous territory - who knows how I would have reacted if the conclusionss had not been so overwhelmingly positive today?
But as usual, the positive of this situation is that I'm aware of it and will try to keep myself in check. Because if I can't, god help us all when it's time for her GCSEs!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Oh dear...

Don't let the title fool you - there has been no crisis and in fact this is a very rare self-aware post...I hope!
Miss T has her two to three year developmental check on Friday and it's something that has had a strange effect on me.
When the health visitor rang to make the appointment, my first instinct after putting down the phone was to Google the check to find out what it involved.
I have so far resisted.
Which is a good thing. Because I wasn't going to Google for my own interest, I planned to then tutor my two-year-old to make sure she "passed".
Luckily, I recognised this as a completely ridiculous response. According to a parent friend of mine, "everyone" has tutors now for the 11+ (which is an archaic Kent test to stream people for grammar schools if you're not from round here!) and loads of people also have tutors for SATS but for two year olds? Really??? Even I could tell that would be a bit over the top.
However, it's not all good news. I have resisted the Googling, and resisted the tutoring, but I can't shake the feeling that if she fails (which she can't - it's not a pass/fail situation!) then I'm a BAD PARENT.
And I have had a few sneaky conversations with people who have told me some of what it involves, and I'm fairly confident she'll be fine, but even if she's not that should be fine. If that makes sense. Sorry if it doesn't - it's been a long day!
My point is - why can't I just accept her as she is? Why is there this constant quest for perfection? If I'm this bad now, what will I be like at SATs time? Or the 11+? And let's not even think about GCSEs and beyond! (although please note how I phrased that - deliberately leaving out the assumption that she'll stay on for sixth form and then go to a top university before becoming prime minister...)
Oh dear.
There's not really much else to say, is there? But of course I'll let you know how she gets on - I wonder if there'll be a score? I wonder how to find out what the highest score ever achieved is??? ; )