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Really struggling........would the children be better with ex h

20 replies

stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 13:11

Sorry this is long, but would value any idea, suggestions or comments

Divorced and 2 dc live with me, aged 4 and 6. I adore the children, but.......and I find this very hard to say and I hope no-body on here will think I'm hard and horrible.....I just find them such hard work. I am not a "natural" mother, I think I'm quite a good mother but it is such an effort. I find it extremely hard to play with them, take them on trips out and enjoy them. I am a stickler for routine and I know most of the time I sound more like a marshall than a mother, barking out instructions, making sure everything is done correctly. They are both in good routines, in bed by 7 pm.

The children are well balanced, confident and happy. They are well cared for, always clean, well fed etc etc. They see their dad every other weekend and enjoy their time with him and his partner and her two boys.

I have a b/f and have been with him for nearly 2 years. We don't live together but see each other 2/3 times a week and when the children are with their dad I spend the weekend with him.

I suppose its a bit like leading a double life really. Theres the weekly grind being mum, doing the school run, going to work (i work 3 days per week) and then the other times.

When I collected the children yesterday at 6 pm my mood just went down and my dd says that she loves spending time with her dad and prefers it there.

Both children are very affectionate with me, as I am with them, but I have this awful nagging fear that I am not doing right by them as I think their lives would be better with their dad, who is well balanced and lives with his partner. I do suffer with depression and am battling this at the moment.

In the week leading up to the weekends when ex h is having the children, my mood is upbeat and I find I get through the week, however when I am starting the week (i.e today) before I am due to have the children for the weekend my mood is low and I struggle. I shout at the children, am irritable and basically just want to get through each day.

I feel like I have completely cocked up everything and don't know which way to turn really. I love going to work and being with other adults, but find that working 5 days doesn't allow me to get the housework done, hence I dropped back to 3 days. I suppose there are lots of alternatives, such as working full-time and employing a childminder to collect them from school.

I know I am very lucky to have 2 healthy, happy children, a b/f and every other weekend free, a job and some free time but something feels so very wrong and I don't want my children to grow up hating me.

I feel so very sad and am now crying as I type this I just don't know what to do

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MaryBS · 14/01/2008 13:20

Just wanted to give you a {hug} and quote this back at you:

"The children are well balanced, confident and happy. They are well cared for, always clean, well fed etc etc"

I think you need to talk to someone, because you are battling depression.

Many times I feel like you do, with regard to not being a natural mother and shouting at the children. Being a mother is hard work as many of us know. But NOT being a mother would be even harder.

I think your depression is talking and that you would feel immeasurably worse if you handed over your children, and I don't think it would be good for your children, who ARE balanced, confident and happy.

Get some treatment then see how you feel. This is just a temporary situation that can be improved I think.

I won't say any more because I think you need to see a quick reply on this.

stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 13:29

Thank you Mary for replying so quickly. I think you are right, I would find it hard to let ex h have the children. I think what would really help (and I know this will sound really selfish) is if I could get some extra help at the weekend, perhaps an overnight babysitter every other Saturday. I do have family that help,my auntie & uncle in particularly but I feel embarrassed to ask them and wouldnt want to ask them to commit to babysitting every other weekend. I don't have a brilliant relationship with ex h so feel nervous about asking him if he could maybe have the children every weekend or 3 out of 4 weekends, at least until I have sorted myself out.

Anyone know if there are agencies who provide this sort of service. I know it sounds totally selfish and childish, I just think if I have a bit of light at the end of the tunnel each week it would make a huge difference to my overall mood and maybe then I could gradually get myself better.

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skyatnight · 14/01/2008 14:12

Sorry you are feeling like this Stripey. I would echo what Mary has said - it does sound like the depression talking.

Being a mother is hard, especially a single mother. It's not meant to be easy or sunshine and laughter all the time. It can be a strain on anyone. If I am on my own with dd for a whole weekend, I find I am losing it a bit by Sunday evening.

It sounds like you are doing a good job as a mother, even if you are of the strict, routine variety rather than the more easy-going, spontaneous sort. Your children will value the structure and routine that you give them. From your description, you have a fairly well balanced life, with work, home and a social life. That's more than many of us manage. You are doing well.

It is good that your children enjoy their time at their Dad's. He may be more playful and easy-going with them. So they get different things from him than from you - nothing wrong with that. Don't feel guilty or be too hard on yourself. In their innocence, children say things like that they are happier at their Dad's but they don't know what it would be like if they were there full-time (and they don't realise that their words can hurt you). They would most like miss you a lot and wish that they were with you.

If you are finding life difficult, could you go back to your GP for a review of how you feel? If you are taking medication, could this be reviewed, increased?

If you don't feel you can ask your ex to have them more at the weekend yet, could he have them one evening mid-week, or some other arrangement so that you don't have full responsibility for 12 days in a row without a break?

Could you get a cleaner to free you up from the housework and allow you to be more relaxed? Try not to be too much of a perfectionist, it's not worth it. Your children will value the time you spend with them. I think most of us would say that we don't always enjoy playing with our children (if dd makes me do the same jigsaw again with her, I may just scream!!). It takes a lot of patience but it's good for the child, so worthwhile.

I don't know where you are but if you put 'baby sitter/ing' into a search engine, it will most likely come up with a local agency, or ask at local nurseries or childcare colleges for nursery nurse trainees.

Thinking that your children would be better off living with their father is understandable when you are depressed but I don't think it's what you really want or that any of you (you, your children, your xh's family) would really be better off that way.

Lauriefairycake · 14/01/2008 14:18

It's the illness talking - please try to tell yourself you are doing a fantastic job.

Try and get as much support around you as possible - you don't say what your boyfriend is like - is he loving and supportive and 'feeding' you emotionally? Maybe have some talking therapy to get support if you feel this is lacking in your life in general?

Try and surround yourself with people who will be very supportive.

Honestly, sounds like your doing a fantastic job with them, try and think of yourself

stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 14:24

Thanks Skyatnight, some really useful feedback and advice. I'm going to ask ex h the question, even if he says no, which I think he probably will, its worth a try.

I did see my gp back in August who prescribed Citalopram, in the end I didn't take them as I thought I could manage without. I have recently changed doctors so maybe its the right time to go back for review.

I just hate the mood cycle that seems to rule my life and wish I could break it.

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stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 14:25

Thanks Laurie. I think you are right, it is the depression talking.

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skyatnight · 14/01/2008 15:26

Stripey, I have just started taking Citalopram. I have been in denial about mild depression for years. I have tried St. John's Wort and other 'natural' remedies, etc., to improve my mood. It may sound childish but I have been hugely resistant to taking antidepressants. I find it hard to admit and see it as a big defeat that I am finally taking them. The packet has been in a drawer for four months. I read somewhere that depressed people are the last people to seek a solution to their problems so I suppose I am typical.

I am finally taking them because I was fed up of thinking about it and just want to see whether they will help or not. Tick it off the list. In some ways, I will be glad if they don't. Also, I need to make sure that I am being the best mother I can be for dd's sake. I am building up gradually, starting with an eighth of a (chopped-up) tablet each day for a week - this is to try and avoid the worst of the side effects. I am now on a quarter of a tablet. I have had minimal side-effects, just a bit of nausea, and I have noticed a calming effect and I feel a bit more buoyant. May just be a placebo effect as I am not taking the right dose yet, and it takes a while to build up from what I have read, but we'll see.

I really don't see antidepressants as a solution. Like you, I can manage without. But I need to move my life forward and be much more productive this year. If antidepressants can help me do this (not sure yet) then it is worth a try. Possible means to an end.

I hate to suggest antidepressants to you but you really do sound depressed. I was not offered any talking therapy by my GP, there is a long waiting list and my case is not urgent. I understand that having counselling as well as taking antidepressants very much increases the chances of you feeling better so I may ask again about this.

Sorry to waffle but what you have written just rang a bell with me. Practical measures like babysitters, asking your xh for more time, etc., will also help.

stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 16:42

Thanks Skyatnight. I am psyching myself to email ex h (can't do it over the phone).

Don't know whether I can do the babysitting thing, think I would feel so guilty about paying someone to look after my children while I am out having a good time, but I suppose if that were to make me happier generally, then the kids would benefit?

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NotDoingTheHousework · 14/01/2008 16:47

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stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 17:19

Thanks NDTHW. Yes you are right in thinking that I look forward to the weekends when the dc are with their dad and then I feel guilty. How long have you been with your dp? I wonder whether that's another issue with me that I'm not brave enough to sort.....I just don't really know where the relationship is going, we adore each other and get on brilliantly, but living that disjointed sort of life is hard, lovely highs when we are together and then the lows. I don't think living together would necessarily be the answer though.....I dunno, im so confused and upset

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stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 17:49

Have emailed ex h, think he will say no, but it's a starting point.

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ScruffyTeddy · 14/01/2008 17:53

Feel like this a lot stripey. When im at work I would rather be at home with the dcs. When im home, the playing up starts while im trying to get housework done (no point while the youngest is trashing something fighting a losing battle) and I cant wait for them to go to bed. When they've gone to bed I feel bored, lonely and too tired to do anything.

I look forward to weekends with them but ds will trot off to dads, who will never bring him back at the agreed time on Saturday, normally too late to do anything. Ds is then tired and grumpy, im annoyed with his dad, grumpy and disappointed. Dd will normally have been playing up. There's never a time when I dont have one of them and no routine in our house no matter how hard I try. Its chaotic and there's nothing to look forward to. I feel guilty all the time that im not a bouncy happy mum, and I want us to have a great time together, it just never seems to be.

I wrote a similiar thread last week I think.

NotDoingTheHousework · 14/01/2008 18:02

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fudgey · 14/01/2008 18:27

I have been reading this site, mesmerised, and this is the first time I have been brave enough to respond but I have to say my situation is VERY similar to yours.

Please hang in there!! Mine are 6 and 8 now and that makes things easier. It sounds to me that in your heart of hearts you know they are best off with you but bearing that responsibility while your xh lives with his gf and helps ease her load is very hard !! Thing will get easier. I find this time of year really tough and my kids are always monkeys at the beginning and end of terms when they get tired.

My realtionship is very similar too but I do think it is hard to commit when you have made one mistake. I am sending you huge hugs and my advise is it's going to take time but it will get better, even if that only means you get stronger and are more able to cope - Good Luck!!

stripeytiger · 14/01/2008 18:48

Thanks everyone for the messages - they make me feel better and although I wouldn't wish my situation on anyone else, it is comforting to know that I'm not alone in feeling like this.

I'm now eagerly awaiting a response from ex h, but knowing him that may well be a week or more during which time I will have worked myself in a stew.

I am also going to speak to my auntie tonight who I am very close to, she is more like a mother and we have been very close since my mum died when I was in my 20s.

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skyatnight · 14/01/2008 22:14

It is good that you have emailed your xh. Yes, he probably won't reply for days which is annoying but you wouldn't expect anything more/less, would you?! And good that you are going to talk to your auntie.

We all need a bit of support in order to be the best we can for our children. We want to manage and do it all ourselves for reasons of self-sufficiency but we're not superhuman. What's that saying about it talking a whole village to raise a child? It is difficult to ask an xh and it is difficult to ask a new partner because they are not his children. But don't feel bad about getting some extra support, whichever way you decide to go, if it's going to help you to help your kids amd to feel better about the situation.

lisalisa · 14/01/2008 22:26

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mummyfantastico · 14/01/2008 22:32

I think everyone has given some great advice, but i just wanted to offer my support as a fellow single mum and say that don't forget, your xh has them on the weekend when they are chilled out and relaxed, you are the one that has to do all the rushing around getting them organised for school etc and coping with tiredness. Of course it's fun at dads, he has no routine/ schedule that has to be kept to.

stripeytiger · 15/01/2008 09:55

Thanks LisaLisa and Mummyfantatisco. I think you have hit the spot Lisa in what you say, it's the loneliness at the weekends that gets to me, my b/f works all day saturday and we don't really see him on a sunday when I have the kids. So when I do arrange trips out etc it just feels like such hard work, I look around and see kids with both parents or partners and it hurts I suppose. However it was me that left ex h so I have made my bed etc. However I don't regret my decision as ex h never participated in family life at all (he worked away during the week, came home on Friday patted the dogs, kids and me, in that order, put his "scruffs" on and got on with building projects. So I have felt this loneliness since the day dd was born 6.5 years ago.

I am going to try and plan at least 2 trips for the weekend, possibly a train ride, which the children love. We live in Cornwall so they love going on the Tamar Valley line.

Thanks again for all the support.

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kidzplay · 17/01/2008 23:37

Hi Stripey

This is my first post to mumsnet but you really struck a chord with me. I love my kids to death but find it such a grind working and looking after kids. It's such a relief sometimes when they go to their Dads on a Saturday. By Friday I really feel demented. Supporting the kids on my own (Dad is unemployed)so reducing hours or paying for an ironing service is not an option. Don't have any other assistance with childcare so feel totally at his mercy which means he is calling the shots about when he sees them. No social life as time off (when kids at Dads) is catch uptime trying to get organised for the coming week. Find kids pretty full on. Struggle to get kids to bed for 9:30 by which time I am totally knackered. So totally understand how you feel. Really hope this website will be a way I can communicate with people in a similar situation. Just clinging on to the hope that things will eventually get easier.

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