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Parenting putting a strain on our relationship

(9 Posts)
Miffyandme Thu 21-Apr-16 19:51:20

I have name changed as I think my husband knows my username as we both look on the sleep boards frequently.

Just need to sound off and seek a bit of advice / empathy / experience.

We have two young children under 3. Kids are great, but I for one am exhausted. We've moved house, I've had to re-establish myself in a new area and get a new job. The lack of a good night's sleep in nearly 3 years is taking it's toll. Neither are terrible sleepers by any means, but toddler requires someone with her to settle now, otherwise there are blood-curdling screams, and I know on the evenings she has been very noisy the baby wakes more frequently overnight. I know this is all part and parcel of parenting and will pass though.

We have some help from my parents although they are not in the same town. No help from his family and I find his side of the family distant to say the least.

My problem is that I have been in EA relationships before and find myself quickly becoming apologetic, reading (or misreading?) his facial expressions to mean that he's disappointed in me and generally getting stressed. He likes a clean and tidy house. I am not unhygienic but my tolerance for clutter is far higher, and in my books, kids bring clutter. He is happy to muck in when home to clean up but I always feel he is disappointed in me.

I think I am misreading him, and then wind him up, or get too anxious and then we seem to clash. Tonight he told me to shut up in front of the children which I think is not alright. Am I right here? Out eldest is very verbal and I feel really guilty that she saw me crying as a result of a disagreement he and I had about plans with my family.

I get very little time on my own, partly as I find it difficult to separate, partly as I don't really know many people to socialise with in the evenings (most of the people I know here are met through baby groups and are first time mums in that stage where free evening time is few and far between) and partly as I'm just so tired by the time the children are in bed I just either go to bed early or watch TV.

I am hoping it will get better. It just feels like the parenting is all consuming and I've lost sense of who I am. I have a good job but am still on maternity leave but I feel like I'm not making a very good job of being a parent or a wife. When DH and I disagree over relatively minor things it seems to trigger memories of things that happened to me in a past relationship, and I go into a spiral of worst case scenarios and end of imagining that we are breaking up, when in fact it was a minor disagreement. The constant need for tidying up the mess of weaning, dealing with pretty big tantrums from my eldest and just general supervision all the time is all-consuming and I feel I have no room left for someone else's needs. Is this normal?

suspiciousofgoldfish Thu 21-Apr-16 21:35:47

Yes if you're me, it's normal! Your post definitely rang a bell or two OP.

I can't say whether your partner is EA or not just from your post.

It does sound like you are exhausted (normal), anxious (normal), overwhelmed (normal) feel like a failure and a disappointment (welcome to motherhood).

You have it especially tough if you've not got a network of supportive family and friends nearby.

I don't know whether it's PND, mild PND or the 'baby blues', but I know how you feel because sometimes I feel like that.

You are doing a wonderful job, and I think if you had an honest chat with your DH about how you are feeling he would be mortified that you think you are disappointing him.

When I have a particularly bad day and cry and feel generally useless, DH reminds me that this is what life can be like with very young children, it's tough and exhausting but in a year or two it will all be in the past. If you can just get through the next couple of years you'll come out the other side.

In the meantime, you should talk to your GP about the different kinds of help available, talking to a therapist, CBT etc. Try to make sure you still get some time that is just for you, away from the kids.

Get a babysitter and go for dinner or a drink with DH to remind yourselves that actually, you do quite fancy each other when you're not bickering over who is more tired or who's fault the DCs nappy rash is.

And never forget - you're not alone!

Miffyandme Thu 21-Apr-16 22:29:27

Suspicious, thanks, what a lovely post. It is a relief to know I'm not alone. I think because I've had to start out new here I only know people quite superficially, and I've found it hard to meet parents of toddlers as I'm so busy keeping an eye on a busy two year old and a crawling baby. It's just the constancy of it all and no breaks.

I don't think DH is EA but I have no doubt that my precious relationship was and I think I haven't processed that properly. I'm in two minds as to whether I should seek help to work through this, but it may not be the right time as my personal resources and pretty low.

I think one of the problems of not having close friends here is that I can't just have one of those conversations where you can have a moan or sound off about home life and get some perspective.

Miffyandme Thu 21-Apr-16 22:30:35

And clearly I meant my "previous" relationship, it obviously wasn't all that precious!

Snapandcrackle Fri 22-Apr-16 09:39:21

Your husband should be supporting you. The days with two small children are hard work and you should feel appreciated for it.

It sounds like you are doing all the right things so hopefully you will build a network for yourself in time.

(I left my husband for borderline ea behaviour and found my life improved dramatically so my pov may be skewed)

Miffyandme Fri 22-Apr-16 13:57:19

He does support me, I think I just struggle with the immense patience and quick thinking I require to deal with my toddler's (normal) moods. Presently both of them sleep at different times and try as I might "just get them to nap together" - hahahaha!- I cannot get sleep times to coincide in the daytime, so I feel like I'm constantly watching when one needs a sleep / planning round one sleeping.

Where we live lots of folk have both sets of parents very close, and have often got a formed network of school friends or the "NCT gang" - their words, and it's difficult to feel part of it. I am making friends gradually though.

I think the sleep deprivation makes me super-sensitive to things and also time in the small hours to ruminate on things said which trigger memories of my past bad relationship. I know my husband is finding it exhausting too. We are both the wrong side of 40 to be dealing with tinies!!

Miffyandme Fri 22-Apr-16 14:10:49

And starting this thread has made me think about why I'm feeling like this and about my husband. I think one issue is that I don't have the chance in the day for proper adult conversations that I do at work (however short and inconsequential, chat is different without two very small children in tow!) and therefore he is the one I sound off to. But if I need a moan about him, I don't have anyone to do that with. I've struggled to keep up with my friends from work and my old place as we are just at different stages and I have no energy for phone calls / Skype once bedtime is finally over. So they probably think I'm ignoring them.

I also miss the regular feedback from work. It's difficult to know if you're doing well with small children. I should probably try and explain this to DH, instead I just snap if he says he is tired too......

Snapandcrackle Fri 22-Apr-16 17:06:21

I'm obviously projecting my situation as some of it sounded familiar

Is he helping out at night?

Miffyandme Fri 22-Apr-16 18:54:54

He does help out at night since I told him he had to or I was going to have a complete meltdown. I think he genuinely hadn't realised the long periods I was awake for. And then the 5am wake ups on cold mornings nearly finished me off.....

I think we bicker because I'm quite often envious of him being at work, and even of his commute - peace, without someone shouting "wake up" at the baby, or that I have the wrong CD on. I think he probably thinks being at home may be easier than it is, (not helped by his mum saying things like "I used to regularly look after my 3 plus their cousins and it was just great fun".....well yes, but they weren't all toddlers were they MIL?). He's tired when he comes in, but so am I and on it goes.....Having kids later has I think meant we are both a bit set in our ways, and I guess our small age gap means that we didn't get any respite of being able to get out in the evenings and leave the toddler.

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