I’m finding this single parent malarkey a bit tough at the moment. I think I got through Christmas by telling myself “it will all be over soon and then you can have a rest” – which was great, and it worked, but now Christmas is over with and I can’t have a rest because I am still a single mother, and if anything S is becoming more demanding. She’s going through a very clingy stage so that I find I’m carrying her from room to room with me when I go to load the washing machine, or to sort clean clothes, or to the toilet. And she’s no longer content to just sit and play with her toys; she wants to stand up and practise walking, for which she needs a willing pair of hands, and someone with knees of steel to walk back and forth across the rug with all day.
By now, I consider myself to be an old hand at the physical exhaustion. She’s had a cold and has been generally unsettled, so her sleeping at night hasn’t been fantastic; after the first couple of hellish, tearful days, you adjust and it becomes normal again. It’s the mental exhaustion that’s getting to me, and the realisation that apart from her sporadic naps, I’ve had no time alone for a very long time.
Don’t get me wrong; I love S with all my heart, and on the rare occasion I do leave her with someone, I miss her like mad and call a thousand times to check she is ok. But right now I would give my right arm for a bit of peace and quiet and a couple of hours to just chill out without having to worry about S waking up. I know my mood is affecting her at the moment, and probably then contributing to her not settling down or being able to sit and play on her own for more than a couple of minutes. She’s also experiencing fairly bad separation anxiety, so that even if she is playing with someone else on the floor, she still needs to be able to see me at all times. It’s quite tiring.
A while back, a friend told me that I could get Tax Credits to contribute towards child care for one day a week, even if I had not yet gone back to work. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but lately I’ve been thinking about it. And thinking about actually going back to work. This week I’ve actually spoken to a few nurseries, and made appointments to look around. I’m thinking I might put S into nursery one morning a week in order to give myself a bit of space to do fun stuff like OU coursework and housework. The idea is that if I then decide I am going back to work, I can gradually increase the hours at nursery so that it’s not a massive culture shock for S.
Part of me feels like I’m failing at motherhood by considering using a nursery when I’m not even working. And I feel so horribly guilty for wanting to be away from her for a little while. But I’ve had a really stressful time lately, and I’ve not had a huge amount of help or support. People have said they will help, and then just didn’t; which is actually worse than nobody offering in the first place. Once someone has said to you “I’ll do this for/with you” you relax a little and concentrate on that light in the distance. When the help doesn’t materialise you feel worse than you did before, when you knew you just had to get on and do it on your own. So if I am doing it on my own, I know I need to get some proper rest and some proper time on my own, before I go mad. My temper and tolerance are getting shorter and shorter lately, and I find that if S doesn’t look like she’s settling down to sleep in the evenings I get really uptight and fed up – which probably just makes her less likely to settle.
So here I am, admitting defeat. I wish I could say it feels good, but it doesn’t.
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