I am a long time member but started a new account specifically to post here more anonymously.
When I got married 3 years ago, I was recovering from an abusive relationship, rape from a close "friend", and losing a pregnancy that I hadn't wanted in the first place. I made the foolish choice to marry and get pregnant (on purpose this time) by someone I didn't really know but whom I thought I loved and was loved by. At the time, I had barely a possession to my name--as in, I owned an old, dying car...no furniture...no place of my own...terrible credit...no money at all. At first, my marriage was idyllic. I had stability--with money, but also with the steady support of my husband and a home we lived in for more than a few months. I had a beautiful birth, an easy breastfeeding relationship, and LOVED being a mother. Everything was EASY. The first cracks in the foundation of my marriage were beginning to be apparent, but I could mostly ignore them, and he was good to me. It was easy to be a mother to this happy, laid back little baby. I nursed her on cue, coslept, wore her constantly, cloth diapered, fed myself and my husband delicious, healthy vegan meals, all while reveling in the joy my sweet little girl brought me and the bliss of motherhood. Fast forward a few months...the military transferred us 3,000 miles away from my hometown and all of my family and friends (though to a place we were excited to go to, at least.) A week after we got here, he told me he no longer loved me and it was a mistake to marry me. I didn't know a soul in our new place. He soon found out he was being deployed, and within 2 months of our arrival was going away for weeks at a time in preparation for that deployment, and I was left in the rainy, cold Pacific Northwest (originally from Florida!) with no support system. My daughter was beginning to crawl and get into things, and she started nursing all night and not going to sleep on her own, which she had done for the first year of her life with no issues. I tried to treat my depression naturally, with 5HTP and passion flower and B vitamins and fish oil. I tried to convince my husband to go with a counselor to me, but he completely checked out while I desperately tried to fix our relationship. I started to be overwhelmed with motherhood, and irritated, and sometimes I'd walk away and let her cry (for 2-3 minute) because I just felt like I was going to scream if I had to lay there with her for another minute, trying to get her to sleep. Me, the one who condemned CIO and used "The Continuum Concept" as my Bible for that first year. Fast forward a few more months... my husband and I separated, and I've tried to move on. In all of my loneliness, in the overwhelming stress in my life, I've tried to figure out a way to be financially stable and take care of myself efficiently for the first time in my life. I am trying to figure out how to juggle everything when once I had an equal partner sharing the workload. We've been living apart for several months now, and I'm sooo not there yet. I find myself resentful of my daughter, though it clearly isn't her fault at all--if only I could work full time and support myself and not have to be under the thumb of my awful ex husband. But instead, my choices are, to leave her in daycare and be even more exhausted at the end of the day than I already am working very part time, and feel guilty and like a bad mom on top of it all, OR to continue to be under his thumb since he's helping me financially. And I have all of this anger towards HIM... he chose to not be married and he chose not to try in our relationship, and he chose to walk away, and now she and I are the ones who get to suffer...he gets to be the fun dad for a day and a half on the weekends (most of which she spends sitting in front of the TV) while I do all the hard work. She's sick often, always during the week, and so I'm the one who deals with that. She often doesn't sleep (except when she is with him, supposedly!), and I'm the one who stays up to cuddle/persuade her to fall asleep. She is almost 2 and into EVERYTHING all of the time, and I clean up after her. I take care of her doctor's visits and work on potty learning. I'm the one who nurses her, and changes her diapers, and gives her a bath every night. I'm the one who has to learn about discipline and implement it--the brief time he spends with her, she is supposedly angelic and there is no need for discipline. I know I also get everything else--I get to watch her grow and experience all the fun parts, too. But even realizing that, it doesn't make the hard parts easier for me anymore like it used to. Even when we first moved here and I was so depressed and lonely, it still wasn't *this* bad. I still felt connected to her and so in love with her. Now I feel like I am desperate to just shove her into his arms and walk away when it's his turn to be with her...and yet the moment she is gone, I desperately miss her and can't wait to see her...all while dreading the responsibility of having her back with me again. I want a full time job just so I can be away from her, and at the same time feel the guilt over leaving her. I feel these bursts of love and devotion to her among a steady stream of irritation and frustration. I just don't know what to do or how to parent this person who used to be an easy little baby but is now a strong willed, whiney, seemingly always-unhappy toddler.
And soon the military is sending him to Japan for TWO YEARS. Meanwhile, I get to stay here and be her only full time parent, the only constant in her life. I am not financially stable. I have terrible credit. I am starting to develop a support system but still feel alone. I feel completely trapped in this situation, like a caged wild animal. I'm helpless. I don't cook healthy meals anymore, I hate breastfeeding and after 30 seconds ask her to stop (thankfully she has nursed less and less since she turned about a year old), and I desperately want my bed to myself so I can just BREATHE. (Luckily she will often start out the night in her own bed but she usually pads into my room in the early am asking "mommy's bed? hug?" and I feel the guilt for not appreciating her sweet little soul again.) I find these disturbing thoughts becoming more common...things I hate to admit...like "What was I thinking?" or "I don't want to be a mother" or "I just want OUT." It sounds so awful and selfish. She is going through so much, too...
My daughter is so sweet and fun, but lately she has been so incredibly cranky and clingy and destructive. I don't know if it is just her age, or 2 year molars, or what's going on with her dad and I, but she is just like this tornado. The other day, she was sick and slept in until 9 am, and my day was AMAZING because I was able to get ready to go in the morning and have some time to myself, all without her completely destroying the house while I did so. I had so much more patience with her, felt more connected to her than I have in a long time. I didn't run late to work, I didn't forget anything, and I even got some housework done. I felt so TOGETHER. The thing is, she almost never does this, and the earlier I get up (trying to get ready before she wakes) she gets up earlier, too. In the afternoons, when she wakes from her naps, I feel like I'm going crazy because she is just tearing everything out of the cabinets and making a gigantic mess and the only way to stop her is to get her out of the house. I swear she has 100 tantrums a day. I know most of this is age appropriate behavior but that doesn't make it easier for me to deal with in the moment.
My friends tell me I need a break and time to myself and hobbies outside of her. Which, at the moment, I get that time on weekends (until he leaves in May.) However, it is never enough. By Monday morning, I am back to the irritable, angry, resentful, mean mommy. I'm on antidepressants (trying my third kind now...) I'm desperately searching for a therapist who does CBT and takes my insurance, so that I can actually make some progress instead of just talking and talking about things (which I've been doing for years and it hasn't fixed anything.) I'm part of a great AP mom's group...but that mostly just makes me feel inadequate and 'not crunchy' enough.
I don't know what to do other than those things. I don't know how to stop being hurt and angry and regretful and resentful. I don't know how to stop feeling trapped and helpless. I don't know how to stop wanting to punish my ex husband for what he has done to us. I don't know how to get rid of this guilt. But worst of all, I don't know how to enjoy my daughter anymore.
With all the stress you are under, your emotions/reactions are perfectly normal.
Is there a way you can move back to Florida to be by your support system?
You sound like you need help and I encourage you to go to your doctor and a counselor.
I hope that you find ways to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your dd.
Well, I didn't want to make my post even longer by going into that...but as much as I love my family, Florida is not a healthy place for me to be. Not only am I miserable in the weather, and the unemployment rate is ridiculous there, and I would not make any money even if I *could* find a job...but my 3 closest friends there have since moved out of the state, and my family there is not a healthy support system. They are very religious and conservative and I am not, and every single part of my life is under scrutiny...they have this, "We love you in spite of..." attitude towards me and I constantly feel like the odd one out in a place that thought I was insane for my parenting, political, and religious beliefs. Since moving to the PNW, I've been more free to be ME than I ever was in Florida, which feels good. Also, I convinced my best friend from Florida to move here, and I have her, and I've recently become close to the leader of the AP group here, and am developing more friendships. I'm not really ready to date, but there is a guy here who cares about me a lot and is being a great friend and support to me. So, I feel like I have way more support here than I do in Florida. Thanks for your comment though :)
I don't have much advice really. I just know so well what you are feeling. I have totally felt that! It couldve been my voice. I also know that it does get better. It really does. You are really in the thick of it now and if you can cut yourself some slack for all the things you think you aren't doing or being, you will actually be a better mom to her and feel better. ANYthing you can let go of worrying about doing 'right', you should. Just pick one thing. Anything. And let it go. Maybe what kind of dinners you are having? Visualize that stress. See it. Know that doctors say if a kid eats pbj and milk for weeks they are fine, and so whatever you are giving her will be alright, and let. it. go. There's a lifetime to deal with that but you have sooo much going on right now that you need to cut out all extra stress. You will not be perfect. You will get through this well!
Maybe you can work up to, or maybe you are ready for, it being okay to work. It seems like the financial stability is a big issue for you. Working in a stable position will address that and credit and maybe alone/mom time and will be worth it. Your babe will be able to handle it. More loving people in her life would be great, if you can find a daycare you like! It's hard and overwhelming and her age and stage doesn' thelp, but it is not infinite.
Mom to 11 y.o. lawyer, 9 y.o. actor, and 4 y.o. pilot. I believe 'em on those, too!
Oh sweet mama! You are not a bad mama! I think you will find that parents of children this age are often wrought with irritability and exhaustion even under the best circumstances. And yours are clearly not the best circumstances.
Toddlers are very difficult and very stubborn and it's impossible to reason with them. Honestly, if I didn't have my wonderful family daycare for both my kids I would have lost it. Personally, I don't think its in our genes to be with toddler every waking moment. If you read the continuum concept you know that the author believes very much in the village raising the child. And if you lived in a "natural way" (i.e. primitive tribal culture), you would have endless support of other mothers and fathers, grandparents and older children.
I remember being so exasperated with my daughter, but there eventually came a turning point when I was able to have conversations with her, reason with her, and share with her all the things I enjoy. Now she's 5 and she's my favorite person to hang out with hands down. We visit rose gardens, art museums, we read interesting children's literature rather than boring baby books. It's not all fun and games and we still frustrate each other, but it's soooo much better.
FWIW, I'm going through what you're going through with my son who is almost 3. It's just always such a battle with him--and on top of it all he constantly battles with his sister. I know it will pass.
Even on MDC I've heard that the best way to get through these tough years is as much childcare as you can afford! It doesn't have to make you guilty. There are a lot of wonderful daycare options in almost any place that are loving and sweet where your child will make friends, and you can make friends too. My kids attended a wonderful family daycare. My daughter is still best buds with the kids she met there.
It seems like your on your way to creating your own community. My husband works out of town all week, and while it is no where comparable to your situation, I've found the best way to get through a long day involves inviting another family over, making a big pot of spaghetti and putting back a couple glasses of wine with other parents while the children play.
You will find your groove and things will be better I promise.
It sounds like you're trying hard to put all the right pieces in place (therapy, steady adequate employment, building a support system) and some things are just taking time and you are a GREAT mommy to be worried that while you're figuring it out, you are getting more and more negative and taking it out on your daughter and yourself.
Aside from the things you're already trying to do, this may sound like a really off the wall suggestion but can you ask your best friend to help you - maybe once a week (or more often if possible) - get in the mindspace where you can be totally loving to your DD, tell her how much you love her, be patient with her, and all the other behavioral and emotional things you want to be able to give her consistently - can you ask your friend to come over and help you get into that place so you can spend some time each week focused on her in a really positive way and channelling the feelings and energy you want to channel most of the time?
I just really understand your struggle, and the most heartbreaking part of it is your DD doesn't understand that you are going through your own stuff that has nothing to do with her, she's just being a typical 2 yr old and you have the regular stress associated with that but then all this other huge stress on top of it, and she triggers your exasperation or anger by just being a toddler. She doesn't get that it's not her fault or about her, and you feel bad because you know you're being mean when you don't want to... I just wonder if your close friend can help you get in a different zone, a different mindset on a regular basis and if that might help you figure out how to channel your anger and frustration elsewhere and keep on even, supportive ground with your child (and eventually, yourself)?
That may sound all over the place but it's what came to mind... do you think it's possible?
I am so sorry you are under so much stress.
It sounds like you are doing and trying lots of things to make things better and that you are forming a support network there that will be helpful in so many ways to you.
Your life fell apart. It's normal to lose your footing for awhile and feel like everything is upside down when that happens. You are aware of your feelings, you are making plans, you are doing things to take care of yourself. You can land on your feet when you get through this temporary transition.
I couldn't read this and not post. I just want to agree with the PP - you are a great mama! 2 is such a challenging age! I know I would have a really hard time handling my 2 yearold on my own. I think you are doing amazing, and I hope you can find the support you need.
What you are feeling is totally normal. It's a big, huge sign that you are drained. When we don't have enough nurturing of our own, filling our own needs, it is hard to dip into this depleted place to give another human being the love and attention you want to. You are stressed, feel constantly on call, and you are dealing with a major life change. After any major life change, but especially negative ones, it takes a while to find a new 'normal'.
I hear a lot of judgment in your post. You have bad credit. You are not crunchy enough. You are not doing the 'right' xyz to have an 'easy' child, like a lot of books (not just AP ones) promise. You are not financially independent. But if you are, you are not being a good AP mom.
Let go of all expectations and judgments. I know, easier said than done. I'm working on it myself too. Accept imperfection. Rather than seeing yourself as not being 'crunchy' enough, maybe view yourself as doing what is best for your daughter and you. It is not good if you do not get a daily break from your dd, no matter how AP it may seem to spend all your time with your little one. If it's depleting you, it's not good.
You are teaching your daughter how to behave. If she was in your situation, what would you tell her to do? It's easy to give and give with nothing left for oneself. It's something I struggle with in changing. It's healthy to teach your daughter that mommy has needs that are important to meet.
And why do you feel guilty about the financial support your ex gives you? He is obligated to support his daughter too.
Wife to dh, Mommy to my heavenly angel, J (06), and my earthly angels, S (07) and E (10)