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loving your child

(13 Posts)
Debra1981 Thu 10-Jul-08 09:32:39

I've just realised I now feel less loving towards my daughter (2.1), and it makes me sad, because she's never been a particularly troublesome baby or toddler. I'd like to know if it's a toddler thing, a struggling single mum thing or just a problem I have, and if there's anything I can do to bring back that loving feeling. We moved into our own place about 6 months ago, from my parents, so practically life is more demanding now. Although we are quite close and cuddly a lot of the time, I sometimes resent her existence because I imagine she is preventing me from having a career (I had her straight after my degree so hadn't really started)/earning a comfortable full-time wage/travelling/being desirable to a decent fella. I know a lot of this is down to my lack of self-confidence. In contrast, when I think back to when she was tiny, I loved the fact that she was totally dependant on me. Sometimes I wish she would have stayed that way, as the days seemed easier and simpler- no tantrums, and less pressure to make sure she's developing in the right way. I'd just like to know if other parents have similar feelings. I am embarrassed and ashamed of feeling less than adoring towards her, don't think I could bring myself to discuss it with other mums in RL, as they all seem to be happy, capable copers.

farrowandball Thu 10-Jul-08 10:00:39

i imagine this was such a difficult thing to write - and i think being honest about how you feel is incredibly important...

i am a single mother too. and it is, as you say, a very demanding and tricky position to be in, practically and emotionally. i absolutely understand your feelings of resentment because the truth is that without your daughter you would be having the career/travelling and so on. and at times, sometimes for a long time, i have felt the same - an odd muddled mix of resentment and love and regret and joy and so on.

i would say just four things. the first is that it is absolutely possible that you are depressed - hardly an unreasonable response given the circumstances - and if you think that even might be the case i think its worth exploring it with your gp. because all the people i know who have been, and have taken antid's sucessfully say they cant believe they waited so long to feel better.

the second is that it does get easier. my dd is nearly five and oh my goodness what a change. things are possible now which simply weren't three years ago - the things we do together are more grown up (cinema on saturday mornings for example) which make me feel less like i'm drowning in child. and when we are out and about, or at a party, i dont have to follow her around in case she tries to fall off the nearest wall or whatever. and if i'm knackered she will happily draw or paint while i read for half an hour. it is less relentless, i guess is my point. and that release makes it much easier to enjoy being together all the time. also - we've had more practise at being us - and i've figured out that if i want to see my friends in the evening i take her with me - she used to fall asleep in the car and i'd carry her in a tuck her up, now i just put her to bed there and carry her asleep in the car when we leave. i imagine this isnt ok in the parenting handbook, but it keeps me sane and, by default, allows me to be a better parent. oh and also - there will be things you can do when your dd is older more easily because you are single - my dd and i are going to india for two months at the end of the year because we can - no-one to answer to, no-one else's job to work around.

the third is that it took me a while to realise that friends with partners, as supportive and kind as they may be, will never really get how tough it is. i found things much easier when i stopped expecting them to get it. i still feel if i knew some other single parents it would, in an unspoken way, be easier.

and the fourth is this - all those parents around you who "seem to be happy, capable copers' arent. not all the time. they are frustrated and trapped and confused and ambiguous some of the time. because you'd be sociopathic if not. so stop seeing perfection everywhere else. it doesnt exist.

the bottom line, for me anyway, is this - would i rather not have my dd. and the answer is no. doesnt make it any easier, but i always come back to that. and you will too.

i really hope you are ok. please feel free to keep in touch if you want to talk more. oh, and i hope this doesnt read like a lecture. i just wanted you to know that other people have felt that way too.

best wishes

ps - my dd has also been something of a barometer where boys are concerned. my feeling is that anyone who has a problem with me being a mother wouldnt have been good enough even if i wasnt.

Debra1981 Thu 10-Jul-08 10:37:48

Thanks very much for your prompt encouragement fandb!! i'm glad i wrote on here, at least i feel a little less 'alone' with the burden of this life and of those weird feelings. and i'm glad you've found things get easier! i dont feel really 'under a cloud' generally but sometimes it does seem like even simple things get the better of me. so maybe theres something in the first thing you said. also i do so much comparing of dd with children of similar age and me with their parents- is there a straight-forward way of stopping this? i think that it's unhealthy, but do it almost unconsciously, as i worry about her being 'left behind', although she often seems to compare more favourable than i do!

littlewoman Thu 10-Jul-08 10:38:39

Good post, F&B. I would agree. Babies are gorgeous, we have so many dreams for them. Then they turn into things that disobey us and have their own will. That wasn't how we imagined it was going to be grin

It is all so much easier when they go to school, and the irony is that you will probably miss her then.

littlewoman Thu 10-Jul-08 10:42:47

A straightforward way of stopping this is to accept that you are a capable and loving mum. You are too hard on yourself

Debra1981 Thu 10-Jul-08 10:48:41

I'd also like to mention that I feel endebted to my daughter, as without her arrival to trigger my protective parental instincts, I'm fairly sure I'd still be in an abusive marriage in which I did feel utterly depressed, isolated and frightened. Just another side to the funny emotions she stirs in me!

littlewoman Thu 10-Jul-08 11:10:46

Debra, I've got 6 children and sometimes I wish they would all just go away. I want their dad to come and take them to live with him, so I can finish my degree in peace and have a nice tidy house. I feel so awful that I feel this way sometimes (feel like it a lot less since I've been on antidepressants, in all honesty). I feel 'unnatural', because society tells us that women are 'natural caretakers'.

Do you ever think to yourself that that is how men feel in relationships? I think this feeling is probably at the root of many affairs. Looking after children can be thankless, boring to the point of mind-numbing, and extrememly monotonous. There is no shame in wondering what you might have been doing if you weren't tied to the kitchen sink. There is no shame in not being extremely grateful for your lot.

But, at the same time, do give yourself the credit you deserve for being there every day of her life, every minute she needs you. It's natural to want 'more' from life, but you are putting her first despite your own wants and needs, and that makes you an outstanding person. You don't need to compare yourself to others. You are just fine as you are.

snotbuster Thu 10-Jul-08 11:34:05

I think that regardless of whether you're a lone parent or not (I am BTW) 2 year olds are quite annoying demanding. Maybe you're both ready to have a bit more time apart - could you look at working part-time? She would probably enjoy nursery at this age and you can get help for the fees from working tax credits.
It can be very hard going on your own and sounds like you would enjoy your 'mum' time more if you were also doing something else.

wheredohairbandsgo Thu 10-Jul-08 11:42:44

I was in exactly the same situation as you. My dd's dad left when she was a baby and I was stuck on my own for 4 years, resenting my stressful life with my demanding toddler.

Now my DD is 7 and I have the luxury of looking back, glad it's over, but proud of what I did.

Be kind to yourself. In any way at all get time to do something for yourself. EG join another course ( college with a creche ) or gym or do something you have always wanted to do that's within reach, even if it's just reading a book or getting in shape.

I used to console myself that 'This too will pass' Your DD will grow up. Your relationship with her will change. For me, toddler age is the MOST boring, trying, and thankless time of having a child.

And all those things you want to do with your life are still possible. YOu can travel with her when she's a bit older, you can get a job when she is in nursery, and there are many many men who will find you attractive! People, even without any kids, end up stuck in ruts and not happy.. .

Also be proud of yourself and remind yourself that what you are doing is really hard and so are actually achieving a lot. Hope this all doesn't sound patronising or anything. Just want you to know you are not alone in feeling so trapped. . .

girliefriend Thu 10-Jul-08 14:27:01

Hello all, I have dd 2.5 yrs and have always been on my own, i know what you mean about it getting harder as I feel like this as well. Babies are demanding in their own way but also easier to understand and meet their needs whereas a busy, lively toddler makes demands in a very different way on my time, energy, emotions etc. I hate myself sometimes as I also resent how much she demands of me and crave my old child free life where I could go out and not have to worry about getting up at 7am the next day! However I also appreciate how lucky I am to have a beautiful, healthy daughter who is full of character and really (although she has her moments) is very good! Agree with above threads and live in hope that one day will find the right man for us and know that a lot of my married friends are with their partner for all the wrong reasons XxX

Debra1981 Sat 12-Jul-08 18:51:33

thanks all for your replies, it's great to feel I'm not a monster after all! and to hear others find toddlers more draining than babies! I shall look forward to more calm in a few years time hopefully! Another theory I had as to why I might be feeling like this is because it's just the 2 of us most of the time, the relationship feels more intense than if I had maybe two lo's, or of course a dp, to sort of dilute situations and provide more distraction for her and me. It just seems strange that I feel so differently about her now, though I still love her of course. I just wondered how normal this change is. As a feeling of sort of growing detachment, it might also be down to me feeling sad about but trying to accept her increasing independence. Sorry for rambling, just having a slow vent really.

forestfern Sat 12-Jul-08 22:53:22

The responses here have been fantastic. But I can tell that you are still worried. We will grieve every passing stage of our childs life. For a very long time probably. The baby stage can be fantastic. For me it was very hard. My child hated her restrictions - the papousse - screaming with boredom in the pushchair when shopping, out walking even - struggling out of the highchair - hating baths and combing hair - turning the pages all the time with stories - never going to sleep - hating not being able to move her arms and legs - hating not being able to do things. I expected that she would enjoy growing independence but she still leaves out the boring stuff - for me to do - and enjoys using the screwdriver and so on! It is all a constant surprise and a constant shock. Having been her friend I now find discipline hard. She is 4 and a half and soon to go to school. I am sure that at the point when she begins to behave - I will have lost her to the system and will miss that. We also miss the freedom that goes with having babies. Probably one of the few times in ours lives that we can feel that - although we are still trapped in another way. We are always slaves to something. Especially hard to leave behind, I imagine, if they are fairly well-behaved. I know that mine always wanted to struggle out of this stage - so it is easier. People say they don’t remember. My child has an incredible memory. This stage is not lost between you and her. None of the stages are. They are not just photos. If your own mother is alive and you have an ounce of reasonable relationship with her - you will know that nobody comes before mum. Your relationship with her will last forever. However much she demands of you - whatever you decide to give in return will be remembered and appreciated. It is much, much harder for you to act in a loving way to her than the reverse. You are full of worreis and responsibilities. You are far more important to her than you think. She is not just demanding of you. She may use you as her vehicle to challenge her environment - but I am sure that at the end of the day she adores you. Most children do adore their mothers. You need to start making some space for yourself. Getting back to part-time work. You will never be living the same lives - but the future that you plan now will be the rewarding one. The baby stage, I am afraid, has passed. But it is in both your memories - and she would not want to stay there forever. Remember that. She will love the growth that you give her. Just concentrate on that. You THINK that you don’t love her the same - but you actually DO. She will always be your baby. Always. There is the answer. It would only take an illness to prove that. And you don’t want that.

mashedup Sat 12-Jul-08 23:48:02

Hi. You're not alone. Whilst children can be lovely, they can be very demanding as well. When mine were younger, I used to dream about having 'my time' and getting a job, etc, as I was worn out most days. Often I did resent them, but it's not their fault and I've never admitted this until now.
I also used to compare my kids to others, and question my own capabilities as a mother. I now realise that other parents do this as well.
The biggest problem was my marriage, and when I got divorced it was a lot easier, not having to do everything for the lazy bully I married.
I used to spend a lot of time playing with my kids, which they loved, we'd go for walks, etc.
Now they're in their teens, I have a job, hobbies, and am studying. I have a great relationship with my kids and I hope it continues.
You will be fine, as the others have said, it gets better, and maybe you need to join a mother/child group or get a job for a few hours per week. I didn't do that, but wish I had.

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