Still discovering what it means to be a parent

(25 Posts)
gourd Thu 29-Aug-13 11:46:15

Anyone else? DD almost 3 yet I’m still in process of realising the things I can’t do any more and also realising it will not get easier to do these things as she grows up (as we had been led to believe by other parents), but possibly even harder.

Most days fine, and partner too, but says he feels resentful when child is naughty or difficult. Realised I just feel bit sad when I hear someone say they’re doing a 10km run at the weekend or going to ride 5 days in the Alps or even just go on family holiday. We haven’t been away since child was 7 MO, and know we can never do any of these things again, not even go on holiday in the UK for another year or two (cant afford it due to childcare costs). I run at lunchtimes at work but it’s only ever about 6-7km at most as I have a one hour break and need to shower and change after running. I cycle commute 4 days a week and ride 50 miles Saturday most weeks (weather dependent so a lot less in winter) but obviously this is a tiny fraction of what I used to do (which was about 250 miles a week plus 2 or 3 x 2-hour track sessions). I miss scenery, camaraderie, experience and sheer joy of cycling. I miss the velodrome too - I miss the thrill and exhilaration afterwards and the intense concentration that was completely relaxing as it necessarily and completely blocked out any other thought. I can’t do it now as it’s all evening sessions after 7pm, so would miss teatime and bedtime, as I’d have to go straight from work and wouldn’t see DD that day, but the other reason is also because I am dog-tired all the time. This is the main reason I can’t run after 8pm when DD is in bed. Also found running in dark with no street lighting difficult anyway; it was icy in winter, so ended up running frustratingly slowly on road, peering into darkness trying to make out where the ice was and dodging cars. Was also shattered as couldn’t get to sleep straight after run, so gave up on that idea.

Part of the sadness about all this may be due to the fact that the time I was actually able to do these things was very short (mostly due to financial circumstances and ill-health) – max of 2-3 years, so there are things I will now never do that I now wish I had, but you can’t do everything in 2-3 years anyway. Does anyone else get this? Find it hard to maintain fitness now as some weeks I am so knackered I simply feel I can’t do it and end up not doing any exercise at all, then feel more lethargic and down and start to get very grumpy with people. This is definitely the case pre-menstrual, when I am so tired I can’t do much for the whole of the week before period.

Of course I wouldn’t want to not have my daughter and I am definitely not miserable or depressed. Often have moments of fun with child whom I love dearly. Mostly life is planning next week’s meals for freezer, packing child’s bag/lunch/snacks etc plus my own for next day, writing shopping lists, planning next farm/park/family visit and constant clock-watching of week-day teatime/bedtime stuff – otherwise it’s impossible to get DD out of bed on time in the morning. This keeps you going but there is no joy in it. The immense fatigue that is nothing to do with lack of sleep and actually gets worse, not better after the tiny-baby stage are something no one really talks about either. I do find the daily-dash to bedtime keeps me going, as there is so much to do in short space of time every week-day and weekends are about getting ready for the next week too. But I still miss exercise, sheer joy, and the feeling of waking up refreshed after a night of unbroken sleep - realise now I took all of this for granted. IF any of it ever happens again I’ll make sure to be immensely happy and grateful for it whilst it lasts….
Lesson learned!

gourd Thu 29-Aug-13 11:48:04

Realise I sound like a complete Eyore. I know I'm perfectly fit and healthy and have nothing to worry about really, but still find just being a Mum hard occasionally.

MoragG Thu 29-Aug-13 12:02:40

I look forward to a day when I can do nothing for a bit (DD1 is 3.5 and DD2 9 months). Days when they are both home we are always doing something. DD1 is not good at entertaing herself, so I get lots of 'what are we doing now then?' and 'but what can I do now?'! And even when DD1 is at nursery and DD2 sleeping (on mat leave at the minute) I am generally ironing/tidying up etc.. Sometimes I just want the hamster wheel to stop for a bit! I love doing things with the girls, and mostly I like the fact that our life is a lot busier now, but just occasionally I would like a bit of down time.

gourd Thu 29-Aug-13 12:35:22

Well I don’t mind not having downtime as such, but of course not having any is why we are tired all the time. Before DD we would ride 100 miles two days running, commute by bike all week but the rest of the time we were sitting around, literally doing nothing (reading cycling magazines) – resting, hence why we could physically ride 100s of miles a week. This is what you never get ever again if you are a parent, there is no rest, except when you are asleep (or dead) as once child is asleep, that is when you have another hour of housework, laundry, ironing, shopping, packing for next day etc to do plus shower an get ready for bed yourself. Partner often goes shopping for groceries once DD in bed so we dont have to do all of it at the weekends to allow some time to take DD to the park/farm/museum etc but like you say, the hamster wheel is relentless and this accounts for the fatigue.
We hardly watch any TV. I see the news most nights for 30 minutes before bed and that is literally it. Cycling tours get re-corded and I watch bits of those as and when, but rarely see even all the highlights as I don’t often get an hour in front of the TV in a day. Haven’t watched a film since DD was born - I’m not mising anything there, but it’s an indication of how little time there is to actually sit down and rest your legs!

CoteDAzur Thu 29-Aug-13 12:40:23

Parenthood means eternal servitude. HTH smile

gourd Thu 29-Aug-13 14:24:28

Yes well we often say DD is Stewie Griffin from Family Guy (never watch it now but did pre-DD). We are her servants/jesters.

I don’t know how my parents did it, well, looking at them with their grandchildren I do wonder if in fact they didn’t do as much as we ‘d assumed and in fact let us get on with maiming/setting fire to ourselves (as their grandchildren do in their care) and merely observed the chaos, but I may be being unfair – they may do that now ‘cos they’re now 30 years older and said children don’t actually belong to them.. Does make me wonder though.

gourd Thu 29-Aug-13 14:25:20

You have both cheered me up though. Griping about it on here does help!

I do get where you're coming from and agree in part. But, do you think you might be making things harder than they need to be? Could you shop online for example? Could you and your partner have one day of the weekend to yourselves, alternating weeks, and still having a day for family stuff? Having one child shouldn't stop you watching a film or going for a long run. The money stuff, yeah no hols here too, and some days I do feel overwhelmed with the relentlessness of it all but there's no way I could go without prioritising myself too at times.

violator Thu 29-Aug-13 14:52:06

I get you. I also think if your pre-kids life was active it's very difficult not to miss it.
Before my son was born I was so fit. I'd been involved in martial arts for seven years, I sweated buckets in the gym four times a week.
One child, one horrific period of PND and one less job later, I'm a different person.
However, he's going to nursery part time from next week so I've made it my "project" to use that time for myself. I'll haul my fatter arse back to that gym and I'll enjoy every minute of it. There's housework to be done but I care more about my mental health than I do about dust and cleaning windows.

Certainly taking time out at weekends is essential. Take a few hours to do something for yourself.

gourd Thu 29-Aug-13 15:00:20

Shopping on line: yes I do all the time for toys and cycling/running kit and bike parts/spares, but not for groceries as that is too expensive.
We get through boxes of fruit n veg (and free range meat) that we simply couldnt afford to eat if we shopped at supermarkets. We eat two boxes of mangoes and 5kg of bananas a week plus 5kg apples, 20 tangerines (£80p for 10 on market), and a couple of punnets of soft fruits/peaches etc plus grapes and other fruits that we pick up cheap. DD eats whole mango, punnet of grapes or strawbs at a sitting so we have to use a couple of local markets at weekends and the fruit stalls near work to get things during the week (a hug celtic cabbage that lasts us all week is 30p) and we cycle home with some stuff. Partner picks up free range chickens half price and cheap fish from supermarkets whlst in his lunch breaks during the week and cycles home with thoise (3 chickens plus 2kg of beef is quite heavy to ride with but can save a weekend supermarket trip!). We us elocal buthcer for pork as it is free range from the farm accross road from our house (DD actually sometimes feeds the pigs there), but we order about £120 worth (fills freezer) from butcher every three months when it comes in then just collect it when he rings us so saves many many trips. We have to go to market on Sat afternoons or to local Asian supermarket for fruit sna vg - it just wont keep more than few days anyway. So we go to market or shop after I come home from bike ride in the morning then after that go off to park wth DD or whatever before I cook tea. Sundays I cook at meals for freezer for week whilst partner is out on bike and i look after DD till our family time in afternoon.

Some weekends we have managed to both do a bike ride in a single day but this is so hard; I have to be out of the house by 7:30 to get home for 11:30 so partner can get out on his bike by 12:30 after i have showered and eaten something and am in a position to look after DD. This leaves one day to do family stuff and shop.

Actually prefer to take Sat morning for ride then shop afternoon and hav Partner ride Sun morning then family time Sun afternoon. Just seem sot work better. We can eat early on weekdns so often go out again with DD to park after tea, before bedtime which we cant do in the week. It seems to work better that way than trying to rush two bike rides into one day with no together time that day, when we still have to shop and cook for the freezer for the week the next day anyway.
I cant see how alternating weekends would work? You cant expect to do one week on, one week off with cycling or running, as frequency is absolutely key. A long run would be possible if I dont go cycling (and in fact I have gone swimming instead when it's been raining), but I have to choose one or other; can't do a long run and a cycle in same weekend as Partner needs time for his bike ride too.

gourd Thu 29-Aug-13 15:09:59

Thank you violator - I do, actually; Most wekends I do get to ride my bike for 3 hours (50 miles) over some nice Saddleworth moor hills over to Holmfirth and back or over into West Yorks, and back via Hebden Bridge over Cragg Vale. lovely scenic routes and I enjoy every minute though i am alwasy busting a gut to get home "in time" feeling pressured not to take too much time as I am fully aware of DP being at home (or out and about) with DD but knowing he will want to take the same hours as I do when he does his ride (and so he should). It's never enough for either of us, but it's all there is these days and I know really that it is better than nothing. I do not thoguh ever do "social" rides these days as I just haven't got time and feel the need to get head down and go as fast as I can to get my moneys worth so to speak as time is very precious. This iswhy i cant ride with a club or sign up to do events (got to factor in gettign to start/home time as well as length of ride) opr even ride with friends anymore, except one very understanding friend who doesnt mind being dragged at my pace over hills about once a month. The rest of the time I really have to ride on my own. I still enjoy it and I know I ought to be grateful but...I also miss riding with my partner. Except for the necessary not fun commute we have only ridden together twice since DD was born..

ILoveDolly Thu 29-Aug-13 15:44:57

I think its normal to feel like this. Its the people who claim to be perfectly in their stride and utterly loving being a mummy 247 that I feel confused by. They must be liars! !

CailinDana Thu 29-Aug-13 17:52:02

Do you have any family help nearby? I have to say I don't find being a parent particularly hard (have 2 dcs 2 and 6mo) but I think that's partly because I don't pine for my pre-dcs life much, and I have low standards in terms of food/housework. Plus I feel that 18 years is actually a tiny amount of time in the context of a whole life. I can't believe my ds will soon be 3. Time is whizzing by.

Things will get easier. A 10 year old doesn't need nearly as much looking after.

For the time being could you try to accept that your main job is being mum and just throw yourself into it?I guarantee that when your dd is running out the door without you to do her own thing you'll feel it went by in a blink. It's hard but it's not forever.

stowsettler Fri 30-Aug-13 10:32:56

I understand where you're coming from. I was very active before DD (only 6mo), was out every night doing some sort of exercise. It's really hard to get motivated to do something these days but I've been quite successful in fitting it in. I bought the Insanity DVDs for when I literally cannot be arsed to go back out (I'm back in full time work), and I do this after I've put DD to bed. Almost all of the time I don't want to do it - but I force myself and always feel better afterwards.

There are a few nights when I can get out to go for a run, to the gym or a class - I realise cycling / road running is your thing, so try to make the most of what's left of the light evenings. Admittedly options are severely limited in winter - perhaps you should broaden your excercise options?

DP and I work very well, which helps enormously - we're a proper tag team. I get up with her at 6.30am and spend time with her in the morning before work. Then he has her til I get back home, then I take over until bedtime (he usually cooks). He's brilliant because he's fine if I want to go out for a run or something while he cooks, because he goes to the gym during the day where there's a free creche. Likewise, if his mates ask him down the pub one evening I have absolutely no problem with that.

On weekends I usually do most stuff with DD - we're very alike in that we want to be doing stuff all the time. While she's tiny that's just going to the shops or walking the dogs, but when she's a couple of months older I plan to get her fitted with a cycle helmet, bung her on the back of the bike and just go out for the day.

I think the trick is to be adaptable - no, life will not be the same as before, but it doesn't have to be so very very different. Not with a bit of give and take.

MinimalistMommi Fri 30-Aug-13 18:02:25

Not wanting to sound critical and this is going to sound critical but I don't mean it in a horrible way but isn't your DD consuming a lot of fruit sugar if she is eating whole mango/strawberries and grapes in one sitting?

That aside, does your DD go to bed early enough so you and your partner have some together time? We make sure DD's are in bed promptly so we can recharge our batteries each evening. I have two hours child free time between seven and nine each night. I know this will decrease as they get older (they're 8 and 5 now) but I'm grabbing it while I can. I go to sleep at nine because of fatigue issues.

gourd Mon 02-Sep-13 13:49:15

MinimalistMommi. No I dont think she eats too mych fruit. i dont actually think it is really possible to eat too much fruit whereas t is staggeringly earsy to eat too much bread/pasta/potatoes/cake/ice cream and meat.
She drinks water. She doesnt drink any other fluids. I was just the same (*still am) and I do not have any fillings, have never had any treatment at a dentist except a check up, and am definitely not overweight, so I am not worried at all about her teeth or health.
She is large for her age (we met a five year old boy the exact same size as her on Sunday) but she certainly isnt overweight. Same as her parents really. She also eats adult portions of other things, not just fruit - a whole chicken leg plus a wing, plus four roast potatoes and quite a lot of cabbage/peas/roast red onion/sweetcorn etc. Eats a whole small/side plate of cabbage along with the rest of the meal, on fairly regular basis. She just eats a lot though mostly it is low calorie food hence why she isn't fat). We all do (apparently, when compared to other people). My parents said I got through the same sorts of amounts as a kid so it seems normal to me. Partner stuffs down about 4 bananas a day on top of 4 apples plus other fruit at tea time (a mango each) and doesnt seem to do him any harm, so no I dont think its really possible to eat too much fruit.

We have tried getting DD to bed earlier but it's not possible in the week (unless we dont eat together and I wont have that as I feel it's essential for our family life). At weekends we all go to bed earlier (by 30-60 minutes) as we can eat earlier (5-6pm, sometimes even earlier). It takes an hour to eat tea unfortunately. Our daughter tkaes about an hour to eat but we dont get home till after 5 so even if just warming food up and doing some greens to go with it, we dont eat till at least 5:30, often 6pm so we dont finsh till almost 7pm when it is time to get ready for bed straight away. Obviously if bedtime routine took less time she'd be in bed earlier and ocasionally is but generally her getting ready for bed (shower, storty time etc) takes 50 minutes these days.. so it;s nearly 8pm before she is in bed Mon-Thur. Earlier on Fri-Sun as I can get food on the table earlier with not being at work.

gourd Mon 02-Sep-13 13:53:08

Think DD taking so long to faff getting ready for bed isnt helping. That could be osmethign to change but god knows how. Find if you try to hury her in any way, he bawls and throwsn things and takes even longer,/will not go to bed, so it;s best just let her get on with it, it's easier and results in her going to bed (albeit in her own time) happy and not getting up again etc.. hmm..

FunnysInLaJardin Mon 02-Sep-13 14:03:04

It sounds like you are expecting far too much of yourself. I'm exhausted just reading your replies. Things do change when you have children and you simply can't live like you used to and bring up a child. As she gets older you will find more time for yourselves, DS2 is 3.5 and he is getting easier. In the meantime I would relax a bit and enjoy your daughter. btw an hour is a very long time to eat dinner, how come it takes this long? My DC will eat theirs in about 15 mins

gourd Mon 02-Sep-13 14:59:50

She just sits and eat for an hour! Always has actually. We all do.. Hmm we do eat a lot though. We usually read a story at the table once we have finished/between courses until DD has finished eating so it’s nice family time but does mean we cant really get her to bed any earlier. I also like to spend some time with her each day and mornings are so rushed there isn’t even time to talk. Bedtime does take too long really. Story is about 20 Minutes (usually old bear or fairy tale) but it’s the shower time that is a faff. DD likes to play in shower with bo9wl of water and bath toys (we haven’t got a bath) so it does take a while, then after bedtime story she wants to go to the toilet again, before bed, so more faffing taking nappy off/on again etc.. however this does ensure a dry nappy after a night’s sleep (we’re thinking of trying a night without nappy soon) so can’t really complain about her wanting to use the toilet ..Just seems to take forever some nights though..

RavenVonChaos Mon 02-Sep-13 15:23:34

Have another baby and just get on with it! Then you will have two to look after and they can have half a mango each - my two always share and then take turns with the pip.

Then have another to fully cement your life of eternal servitude. Forget your hobbies and take up drinking heavily - except on the evening that you will need to take your 19 year old adult child to the out of hours GP and then pay for her prescription.

As you can see I am still coming to terms with this parenting lark and not sure I like it really grin

gourd Tue 03-Sep-13 08:42:46

Heh heh. Yes well I know there's no way out now! I want to tell a pregnant colleague who is complaining of tiredness that she will never not be tired again... but something is stopping me, it's a pleading look in her eyes saying "Please tell me it will be alright".. and it is alright, mostly. Still knackering though.

gourd Tue 03-Sep-13 08:47:48

Having said we usually take nealy an hour to eat tea, DD actually didnt take that long last night - only took about 35 minutes (wasnt very hungry), so there was time for a few games of lotto and a jigsaw plus two extra stories before bedtime! Bedtime routine (i.e. major faff) still took an age though and there were two toilet trips after she had got into bed the first time, so she still wasnt tucked in till 8pm..

RavenVonChaos Tue 03-Sep-13 08:52:34

Do you share the bedtime routine with your DP? We used to take turns and that felt better, also dc get special time with both parents. We also used to take turns getting up at the weekend so we always got a lie-in. You will look back when she is older and be glad that you spent this time together, because when she is 14 she will probably hate you. But you can sit back and rest assured that you spent time with her and that will pay off in the end. Do you think you will have another? I think its easier with more children, even though they fight, they do love each other and have unique relationships with each other which is lovely to see developing as they get older.

MortifiedAdams Tue 03-Sep-13 08:58:03

Stop ironing!!

RavenVonChaos Tue 03-Sep-13 09:11:20

Agreed - stop ironing.

Buy a pull along thing you attach to your bike and have a family bike ride. I bet there are bike clubs for families - there is were I live. No, you wont be able to ride like Laura Trott, but you will get the social thing, you and DP will be together and your little one will be immersed in the cycling world that is so important to you. She will then grow up with the cycling bug. Just think of all those lovely cycling holidays you will be able to go on.....

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