Friday, March 15, 2013

A CALL FOR SUNSHiNE


Today when I was picking up Leander from kindergarden I had to nurse Mona in order to get both kids home without major screaming issues. We went inside and sat down in the cloak room area. Leander surrounded me all the time and even tried to sit on my lap while I was nursing. He kept leaning over and squeezing her onto me. Kissing and stroking her a bit more than gentle. I asked him to be careful or to stop it. At some point I just yelled "Stop it!" A teacher sat next to me and in that very moment jumped in and said to Leander "Oh you wanted to kiss her. That's sweet but you need to be very gentle with her."

I thought "Oh is this something I should have said?" And then realized - I have said things like this. A million times. But at this very moment I felt nothing but tired and exhausted.

The usual contact Leander has with his sister is yelling her name directly into her face. Really loud. Or simply yelling. When we ask him to stop that he yells at us. Or spits. Or hits. Anything. I don't know how often I have told him that I don't want that. That hitting is not ok. That I won't let him do this or that. To his sister or to us. To be honest I think I may even have said it far too often. So I keep not responding because I feel like a parrot repeating everything over and over. Without actually meaning it. Because what I really wanna do is get up and yell "FOR F***s SAKE STOP IT !!!"

I'm sorry. But this is exactly how I feel right now. Exhausted. Tired. At my very limits.
From morning till evening I am trying to be responsive and respectful. Loving. But whatever I do - it's not enough. NEVER ENOUGH. I hear the word "Mama" around 10 times in a minute. If I respond or not doesn't make a difference- it keeps coming. I am being followed around the flat wherever I go. And since Leander is not very gentle with his sister I even allow him to follow me to the toilet. Just to know her safe.
When I nurse her he surrounds me. As soon as I stop he asks me to put her away and play with him. When I play with him he sits on my lap and wants me to play for him. Even when he plays he asks me to help him with everything he is doing while he is doing it himself without any help. When I lean back he wants to sit on my lap again. When I get up he jumps up too. And follows me.
He has realized that I won't ignore his needs so if I don't come with him when he asks me while I am caring for Mona he says he is hungry. And then watches me juggle her and his needs at the same time.

I am telling him when I need breaks. I am trying to have breaks. He won't let me have them. He will stand next to me saying "Mama!" a million times while I am trying to have a break.
I am saying No. I say it nice but strong. He does not accept it. Then I say it louder. Then he yells or spits and that drives me so mad that I yell. Or leave the room in order to stay somewhat sane.

I watch him struggle and fight with sadness. Pure sadness. But at the same time I think he needs to learn and understand. I know that at some point he will but WHEN ??? Because right now I feel close to a nervous breakdown. I wanna run into the forest and scream. Very very loud. I wanna smash things and cry my guts out. And then I want my son back. The one I used to have.

I don't even know how much of his behaviour is the almost 3-year old in him and how much is the recent arrival of his baby sister. And then there are other issues I don't know where to place. That he can't play. Not on his own. Not self directed. NOT AT ALL. It makes me sad and angry at the same time. He is almost three and should happily explore the world.

And somewhere in there I am trying to be me. In the mornings when he is in kindergarden and his sister is asleep I have a minute for myself. And the laundry. The dishes. Lunch. The closer it gets to picking up time I keep building up patience and hope for a better afternoon together. We get home around 3.30pm. By 4.30pm I am so tired I could drop dead on the sofa. If somebody would let me. Leander is exhausted too. Today he fell asleep on my lap at 5pm. And then I look at him. Stroke his hair and hope for a better day tomorrow.

I try and talk to him. But when we have a minute I am lacking words. What is there to say? "I love you now matter what?" Why would I then care for that little creature and not for him? How would he understand that better? So often we sit there and not mention her at all. Because after her being the big issue in the house all day I don't want to mention her name when it is quiet for a moment. I just want... to be together in peace and silence.

What to do? I don't know. I am at loss here. We are thinking of seeing a family counsellor we have regular group consultations with. But this time a whole session just for us. With the kids. And some springtime with visits to the playground so he can release some energy. Some sunshine. Outside and in the house. Our hearts. That would be nice.

14 comments:

  1. That, dear Nadine, sounds extremely stressful, and I feel with you - also having had a 3-year-old boy, when his little sister, my youngest, was born. It was different, but I guess that was due to maritial tensions and the poor little boy did not even dare being as "difficult" as yours, because he felt that his parents were not a stable unit.

    What I do know is feeling bewildered that your child does not play. My oldest daughter was like that until she learned how to draw or make arts of any kind at the age of 3-4. That was the only thing she ever did totally self-absorbedly until she learned to read lateron, at school. Today, she is a totally normal, friendly and socially well liked person. He'll be alright.

    And you are a very brave person right now. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ! I do know that he can play but he is not doing it and hasn't been for a long time now (even before the arrival of his sister). This all adds together because if he would be able to play on his own for a while it would make a lot of things easier I guess. But right now I don' know where to start and get things sorted. Or maybe just sit back and wait... watching my nerves go down the drain. I don't know. But yeah... it'll be alright. One day. Thank you!

      Delete
  2. I have no suggestions for you but I will be thinking of you. I only have one (an 18 mo old) and I feel the constant pulling with her and it is so very exhausting. I hope that all mothers and fathers are able to feel peace and well rested soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peace and rest sound wonderful. Lets keep hoping and waiting.
      Thank you!

      Delete
  3. I feel for you so much right now. I have a 2.5 year old who was just over 2 when his baby brother was born (now 5 months). What you have described here sounds oddly similar to our first few months (and still, we have days like this from time to time!). It was heartbreaking and guilt-ridden and overwhelming, all during a time that was supposed to feel exciting and filled with love, and I felt on the verge of a nervous breakdown on a daily basis.

    My toddler ran around our house wearing nothing but a shirt for weeks on end, peeing on the carpet (after having learned how to use the potty on his own prior to baby's arrival). I was terrified to let him near the baby because we had so many hitting incidents, and I found myself in a panic-stricken, paranoid, depressed, and completely helpless state for weeks on end. I experienced emotions I never knew to be possible, and I expressed anger toward my son that horrified me. And yet, it all felt so out of my control.

    It does get better. It will. 5 months later, we have established some sense of "routine," we have set better boundaries, we have cut down toddler nursing sessions to just a few times per day, and finally, our toddler is beginning to show loving, nurturing behavior toward the baby. Not always, but most of the time, and that is enough to keep me sane, and that is enough for me to get through my days. That is enough for me to feel the love toward my toddler that I always knew before.

    Hang in there, mama! And enlist help from family or friends, if possible, so you can have some special, one-on-one time with your older son. That seems to make a world of difference. He misses you. But soon, he won't remember life without the new baby. That sunshine will be back in your life again soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It's strange that I somehow expected "some" jealousy but had now idea what this could actually mean. I read a lot in blogs or books but never something like that. So it's good to read your comment and not feel so terribly weird and wrong and out of order.
      I do hope that with less nursing sessions and a bit more routine I will find ways to spend some quality time just with him. We have actually tried bottle feeding my breast milk so my husband can take over a little more. I hope this will work eventually. Right now all I give is just not enough. Which is so exhausting. For him too I guess.
      Also his 3rd birthday is coming up in April so I will make that as special as possible so he gets some of the attention he misses.
      In the meantime I will hang in there and wait...
      Thanks for making me feel better !!!

      Delete
  4. Okay, lange her, dass ich mal Englisch geredet hab, also schreib ich hier mal auf deutsch. Denn unkommentiert mag ich es nicht lassen.

    Als der junior geboren wurde, war die Prinzessin 2,5 Jahre alt. Sie hat sehr seltsame Eigenarten entwickelt: dem kleinen den Nuckel geklaut um ihn selbst zu benutzen, dabei war sie schon lange über dieses Beruhigungsmittel drüber weg. Statt mit dem Papa zu kuscheln, legte sie sich lieber von mir auf den Boden, während ich den Kleinen stillte. Einfach weil sie so dicht wie möglich bei mir sein wollte. Sie wollte auch wieder Tee aus Nuckelflaschen. Und natürlich immer etwas zu trinken, zu essen, zu spielen, wenn ich stillte.

    Agressiv war sie nie, Gott sei Dank. Und mit der Trennung vom Papa begriff sie wohl auch, dass dieser kleine Bruder eine zuverlässige Konstante in ihrem Leben ist. Dass der kleine Kerl sie anhimmelte und das bis heute tut, hat wohl auch dazu beigetragen. Trotzdem ist es sehr bezeichnend, dass ihr kleiner Bruder niemals nur einen Keks haben will, sondern immer auch einen für seine Schwester. Sie dagegen vergisst allzu oft, dass der junior sicher auch einen haben möchte.

    Ich denke, manche Erstgebohrene müssen das Teilen erst lernen. Einigen fällt das schwerer als anderen. Einige zeigen es einfach nicht so extrem wie Leander. Ich denke, du hast ihm irgendwo auch beigebracht, offen mit Gefühlen umzugehen. Nur kann der kleine Kerl sie nicht richtig fassen und schon gar nicht richtig vermitteln. Auf der anderen Seite spürt er jedoch deutlich deine Erschöpfung und wahrscheinlich gibt er sich selbst und/oder dem Schwesterchen die Schuld.

    Der Weg zur Familienberatung ist der richtige. Wie es aussieht seid ihr in Kreisen gefangen, die gesprengt werden müssen. Ohne, dass dabei jemand Schaden nimmt. Aber gib dir nicht an all dem die Schuld, vielleicht (nur vielleicht) hat dich auch so eine dämliche Depression erwischt. So oder sop musst du das nicht allein schaffen. Aber den ein oder anderen "Bad Mama Day" solltest du für dich und für eure Zukunft irgendwie akzeptieren.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liebe Tina,
      ach Mensch ja. Eure Situation war ja dann wohl noch doppelt schwer wegen der Trennung die sich da abzeichnete. Halleluja.
      Es spielt natürlich auch mit rein, dass er sich noch nicht artikulieren kann was seine Gefühle betrifft. Deshalb brüllt er, oder haut. Was ja noch geht. Aber was rundherum alles mit reinspielt, dass - egal was ich gebe - nie genug mama ist, dass er sich keine sekunde mit etwas mal allein befasst, dass macht die ganze sache dann so unrund. Aber wir sind dran und es kann ja nur besser werden...
      Danke für Deine Worte jedenfalls !

      Delete
  5. Dear Nadine,

    I am sorry for how hard you are struggling. What you describe so vividly is very, very similar to what we lived through when our younger daughter arrived. Except for the hitting - our older one, then 3,5 years old, took more to screaming (besides coming way too close way too roughly to the baby). For us it eventually got better, but I it took at least four months (and there are still difficult times).
    I used to constantly get into fights with my daughter to keep her off the baby - and it turned out that the safe play area / play pen as recommended by Emmi Pikler helped me to set some boundaries in a rather unexpectet way: To protect the baby from her older sister! I sometimes felt a bit cruel and over the top, but not letting her go into the baby's play space anymore helped to set consistent boundaries for each one of us (very important for me, because I started feeling really aggressive, often wanting to hit her), it seemed to end some of the power struggles (there were still the times of not so peaceful nursing ...).
    Maybe setting up a brother-proof area could help you a little bit, too - sometimes it's mental health preserving to be able to go to the bathroom or wherever else for a few minutes ALONE.
    Aside from this, maybe getting some help with things like cooking (ordering food?), cleaning etc. to reduce some of your exhaustion could help to lighten your burden a bit.
    I remember how desperate I felt during those months, it was a heartbreaking, guilt-ridden time. I hope you find your ways to cope - and yes, there will be sunny days to come with siblings adoring each other, joking around, playing happily.
    Tonja

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tonja,
      wow yes. That sounds exactly like what we are going through right now.
      We have built up a play area for the little one already and he knows he is not allowed in. But although she is a very relaxed little baby in the afternoon when he gets home from kindergarden and is tired and exhausted she becomes alive too and demands more of me than she does in the morning. So quite often I end up with two crying children and even if I get the chance to play with him for a while the minute she wakes up he gets angry and aggressive and surrounds me constantly. And that's when the "fun" begins and an hour later we are all close to madness (and yes - quite often I wanna hit too).
      I do look forward to the good times with happy siblings. Right now it can only get better.
      Thank you for your story! It really helped!

      Delete
  6. You are not alone. Please know that. He is reacting to the baby. You are reacting from exhaustion. Please care for yourself. And know it will get better. Sending strength to you, mama.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jesika!
      To be honest I was surprised to hear from so many sides that I am not alone. Somehow nobody seems to be talking about that although you do expect some jealousy - this is nothing I would ever have expected. So I am a little relieved that it's not just us where things go wrong or bad. That it is a bit closer to normal - that helps a lot.
      Thank you!

      Delete
  7. Honestly, the baby (now 22 months) is and has always been MORE jealous of the older daughter (now 5 and a half+ yrs). It made matters much worse for us that the baby would REFUSE to let me hold my older girl, comfort her, play with her, read to her. It was horrible to see my older daughter suffering so much emotion at the loss of HER mother and yet be so beholden to spending all my energy on the baby. I can say the relationship between my older girl and me suffered tremendously, and I cried every night from the guilt and heartache of feeling like I was 'abandoning' my firstborn. I love your new post - Enlightened! So many things I nodded and said aloud, 'Yes!' You are guiding the way, finding a way, making your way! And helping your boy along the path to healing and understanding. I so admire you, and I love your blog so much! THANK YOU! Hugs to you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not sure if you are active on this blog anymore but I came across this post and nearly cried. This is my life right now and I feel like no one understands. I'm at such a loss. I feel like I'm trying the best I can to accept emotions and set limits on the hitting but every day is a constant battle and I can only take so much before I lose it.

    ReplyDelete