Quiet moments


I don’t think he ever lies still… You can’t tell here, but his head is rocking back and forth, grinding into my leg. His foot is swinging and tapping. His fingers creeping and crawling along the textures he finds. 

His sister is the same. Peas in a pod. People often mistake them for twins. There’s 1kg and maybe a cm between them at the moment… And 20 months ­čÖé 

But then they sleep… Eventually… After much angst… After seven thousand reasons to come out one last time… They sleep… And they don’t move. Still. Silent. Peace. 

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´╗┐another meltdown

Over socks… Again…

They’re furry! Look!

Umm… You mean where they’re all pulled because you don’t listen to me and you run around outside in your socks??? 

Breathe… I’m not actually sure which of us I’m telling to breathe :/ I see red after 20 minutes of hysterics, and she just keeps getting more worked up… 

They’re socks! There’s three dozen pairs to choose from. Find two damned socks and cope! 

Okay… I might have only thought that last part… Muttered it under my breath from another room… Because if I had snapped and actually said it, we’d still be sitting on the floor sobbing… 

Breathe…

Breathe

Breathe!

Okay… Let’s do your hair… 

*insert blood curdling screams here* 

The brush touched her neck… And then I checked her earrings… And let’s not forget the socks!

Her brother picked that moment to enter the bathroom. A door slammed INTO his face. 

Cracked patience shattering…

Hysterical sobs…

Threats of dire, Unknown consequences… (I dread the day they ever call me on these moments… You know… Mama, WHAT exactly will you ACTUALLY do…)…

Hiccuping sobs all the way to school… Tears… Red eyes and cheeks…

Oh… I can’t wait until she’s a hormonal teen… 

I started to write this to a friend… I speak to him every single day. He’s currently going through a marriage breakup, and I try to be there for him… because I know how it feels to have noone at the end of each and every day… just someone to talk to and rant to and pour those crazy feelings out to…

We’ve known each other for over 20 years now… We met in a club – my friend was picking him up (for me) because she thought he was cute. That’s what we did. We’d go out. She was in a long term relationship and I was single. So she’d find guys and pick them up on my behalf… The best kind of wingman! ­čÖé

Anyway… he and I talk daily at the moment, and a couple of days ago, I made a flippant remark about having a 17 year old who had to confess she couldn’t drive because she wasn’t sure she had a zero alcohol level after a party the night before, and a 14 year old who at least gets his weed from his friend’s parents, so at least I know it’s not laced with Ice… It was a flippant remark about not taking any parenting advice from me, unless it was to tell him how I’d screwed up…

He was stunned… but he tempered it down to a ‘surprised’… And it struck me… we don’t talk about our kids. Not really… He knows my marriage was very ordinary, and he’s heard moments from it, but he doesn’t know the extent… and I haven’t told him… So he knows it wasn’t great… but he knows nothing about the rest of the dramas in my life… and not many people do… I think it’s actually one of the things I enjoy about our chats though – it’s his dramas and none of mine – just a few odd commiserations and similar stories to divulge…

And then, this evening, my sister messaged me out of the blue… and we texted a few messages back and forth… real messages… We haven’t spoken in over a year. There was a time when we were incredibly close, but the last few years have been strained…. and finally, it just wasn’t pleasant talking any more… So tonight we chatted, and she finished by telling me she loves and misses me… and I couldn’t say it back.. because it would be a lie…

So I’m left wondering… I know I compartmentalise – far too well some days… I can talk about things that have ripped my heart out, as if I have no emotions involved at all. So perhaps that comes across at times… but then I wondered, after talking to my sister, a thought I have had a lot over the last couple of years… Is something inside me simply broken? Am I just so used to being hurt and discarded and betrayed by those I love the most, that I have built so many walls and there’s no longer any windows… Or am I in fact in a better place, where I just don’t have time, energy or inclination for those that drain me… even those I love….

So my message to my friend was about me…. my children… my dramas…

I know I sometimes may seem too flippant, too abrupt, too unfeeling… but in fact, the opposite is true… I feel far too deeply and I care far too much for the people I love. I am that friend that will drop everything and turn up on your doorstep if you need me. I am that friend who will drop everything and appear with food, wine and a night of my undivided attention when life just seems too impossible. I am that friend you can call when you’re broken down at 3am on the side of the road 3 hours from me, and I will get in my car and be there. I am that mother who leaves a dinner to drive my daughter’s friends home from a party, to 6 different addresses taking me over an hour, just to know they are safe. I am that friend who will pack up a new baby as I’m still talking to you on the phone, and have begun the 4 hour trip to your house when you ring and tell me your husband has just walked out the door after 26 years because he’s now in love with someone else. And I am that friend who will leave my phone volume on so you can call or text and wake me at 3am when you’re feeling alone.

And I am the mother who will leave my phone on all night and sit up talking to my 14 year old about nonsense, convinced he is doing it simply because he hates the world and knows how exhausted I am… so he wants me to hurt and to suffer too… and I am that mother who needs to believe that a part of him just needs me to prove that I do love him, and that staying awake, somehow for him, proves that… and never quite knowing if this is the night that he NEEDS me to talk to him…

And I am the mother who stays awake until 2 and 3 in the morning to get my child off the bus, the mother who drives my child’s friends home when they all descend from a bus with no parents to collect them…

Ha… I am simply singing my own merits… but I am that person. My skin is not as thick as people think it is. Words shatter my soul. Accusations that I am not the friend that is needed, destroy me… no matter how mild the comment. Yes, this is my issue, not yours…

So, I could not write that to my friend after all… and I tried again…

The last few years have been hard… more than hard… I left the marriage from hell, but I didn’t realise that the aftermath was so much worse… another friend going through a nasty divorce told me the other day, on the eve of his court case, that if he’d known, two years ago when he left, that he would have to endure the last couple of weeks, he wouldn’t have left. His ex has destroyed his life in every way she has known how, and he still would not have left… Yet for me, I could never have undone it. Never, even for a heartbeat, have I regretted leaving. I simply regret not leaving earlier. I regret what I have put my kids through. I regret knowing I can’t undo the damage.

So I have the ex from hell… although, to be fair, most of the time he stays away now. Someone told me it’s because our son now lives with him, so he has to be around all the time and play the doting dad and husband to the new family. Perhaps… But he leaves us alone for the most part. He’s still manipulative and that still infuriates me, but the intimidation and threats have stopped…

My 17 year old is in her last year of school. We have always had a great relationship, but cracks are showing at the moment… I could be completely off base, but I think she resents the horror she’s had to live with, and she blames me for a large part of it… But she won’t talk to anyone, not even her friends have ever been party to what she has been through… Bottling it up… Eventually, the cork will pop though…

My 14 year old has so many issues, I’m not even sure where to start. He’s happier where he is than he has been for a long time… but the last 2 years have been hell. The violence. I can’t explain the violence. How can you? How can you tell people that in November, he grabbed a glass from the kitchen sink. I grabbed his wrist as he tried to smash it. He screamed at me to let him go so he could smash it and cut my throat and watch me bleed to death… and how do I tell people that it took me back to my own mother pointing a knife at me and telling me she just wanted to stab me in the heart and watch me die… How do you tell people that this is the child that lies and steals and hurts… that would walk past his sister and punch her in the face… or destroy everything in her bedroom… that he annihilates everyone with words… and when the words run out, he uses his fists or feet or whatever he can get his hands on… How do you tell people of the nights, so many nights, of sitting awake, terrified that he would decide tonight was the night he would stab everyone in their beds… How do you tell of never, ever being able to leave him with the others because he would look you straight in the eye and say to you – you can leave them, but I can’t guarantee I won’t kill them… How do you say all these things and so many others to anyone…

How do you tell people of the days and nights you have spent hours on the phone talking him down from wherever he is at. From killing himself to killing everyone in his house to killing everyone at school. That when he stood here bleeding on my couch from the fresh slashes on his arms, all I could think to say, in irritation, was – don’t get blood on my couch… Of the tears I finally shed when the blood wouldn’t stop flowing and the look of satisfaction mingled with disgust as he saw… His words – this is because of you… Of the times now when he will Facetime me to show the cuts aren’t too deep… How do you explain how it feels to see your child’s arms and legs from 400km away, on a tiny screen… to not be able to reach out to him, to have absolutely no idea what to say to him, to not b able to stop it or fix it… Or that now – I’m not cutting anymore mum, you’ll be happy…. so what are you doing instead? Oh, I do smileys… A smiley is with the cigarette lighter – you burn yourself… Burns are deeper, they leave scars, they’re easier to get infected… But hey mum, I’ve stopped cutting like you wanted… so you don’t have to worry I’ll cut too deep anymore… Or do I tell of him picking fights with the most frightening of people he can find, wanting one of them to finally snap… or dangling from the roof of a 4 storey building by his hands… or smoking cigarettes and weed and drinking anything they can get their hands on… or… where do I start, and where do I finish…

Or perhaps i try to explain the bit that absolutely no-one understands… of the four kids… THIS is the one I thought would never leave… This is the one who was in counselling from before the marriage ended, trying to help him cope with the destructive relationship he had with his father… This is the child who has always needed that extra bit of love… this is the child who begged me to let him live with me forever, who couldn’t stand sleepovers because he had to sleep in the same house as me, who wanted both our ashes ultimately spread over the ocean so we could travel the world forever, together… and then he left. As simple as that… well, not quite… first, he made our lives hell. He did everything he could to make me hate him… because he doesn’t believe anyone does love him, should love him… At one point, broken, sobbing, I shrieked at him – what have I ever done? What have I ever done that is so bad, you could hate me this much? His reply… You gave birth to me. You’re the reason I’m alive… How do you explain this to yourself? Let alone to someone else…

Or do I talk about the 9 year old, so hell bent on keeping the peace she will tell anything at all they want to hear, and do anything at all to stop an argument… regardless of the consequences. The child who goes into meltdown if you even look at her too crossly…

Or the 8 year old who has an amazing analytical brain, but still can’t read and write… who refuses to eat anything other than 6 basic foods… whose behaviour is escalating… and we’re about to embark on the merry-go-round of specialists to find out what is going on, and what we need to do about it…

Or do I talk about me… and my exhaustion… Do we talk about the fact that very few people will still love you at your worst, they’ll just complain when you don’t love them at theirs. They won’t hear the words you say or the words you don’t say… they’ll only hear the perceived hurts you’ve inflicted… Do you try to explain this to them? Or do you realise that it just doesn’t matter… Do I tell them that 2 months ago, I walked into a doctor’s surgery for a pap smear, and walked out with a bunch of referrals and suspected problems, where the broken toe was the best of the bunch… That the lump in the breast turned out to be nothing, they think, but we’ll keep an eye on it just in case, because it might be deep seated or too small… or the skin cancer that they THINK they got all of, but lets do regular checks for the rest of your life in case we missed a bit and it spreads…. or the uterus that they can’t actually find any cause for, but isn’t cervical cancer like my best friend died of a year ago (and do I tell that? The endless loss… the phone in my hand to call… or of going back finally to visit recently, and for the first time ever, she wasn’t there…), but they can tell me that the average uterine wall is 3mm at the start of the period, and mine was already 17mm a week afterwards… but they don’t have a reason, just that my body is giving up on me… or the low iron that should rectify when the blood loss is sorted, but that is currently leaving me drained, tired and emotional… or about the high blood pressure and low pulse rate that apparently means my heart is not working effectively… Do I tell them all this… just to have them ‘fix’ it by telling me it can all be fixed with surgery and medication… but none validate how I am feeling. None understand that I don’t have the time or energy to fix my own failings, when it is all needed to hold together my children…

Or do I talk about the fact that I have worked and studied forever… That for years, I have either worked two jobs, or worked and studied simultaneously. All with kids underfoot. All whilst being heavily involved in the life of a country town. Secretary of swim club and soccer, registrar and recorder for little athletics… Involved in every major event in the town and half the smaller ones… traveling constantly for the children – school, sport, family… Until finally, a couple of years ago, I started to stop… I left the country town, I stopped being involved, I stopped travelling, I stopped working two jobs, I stopped studying, and finally, I stopped working at all. I simply… stopped.

Which part of the story do I tell… Because when I start to tell the story… I lose track of the pieces… because there are so many… and when I try to gather them, I realise… I don’t want to tell them my story. I don’t want to share the pieces. I don’t want the judgment. I don’t want the opinions. I don’t want the solutions…

This was the other thing I had tried to explain to this friend… He was saying how lonely he feels… Anyone who has ended a marriage, or anyone who should end their marriage, knows it… that deep seated loneliness… where you just want someone to snuggle with on the couch, no more… someone who wants to know how your day was… someone to make you chicken soup when you are sick… someone who cares that you are being ridiculous… someone who listens to all the boring bits, simply because they are important to you… So we know how that loneliness feels… the knowledge that even though you might be there with the person you have married, they’re not the right person… and you miss the warmth of being with someone you love…

But i am passed that stage… I am okay with my own company… For me, I want someone who makes me a priority. Someone who believes that my happiness matters more than their own, because I will believe theirs matters more than mine. Someone to hear about the boring bits of my day, to hear the stories from my past, to listen to the inane thoughts that traipse through my mind… I want that…

But even more… if I went back in time… the thing I would choose first, for the father of my children, is a man who will love them more than he loves himself. A man who will place their welfare before his own comfort.

Because that is the part that is hardest at the end of some days… Someone who loves them all as I do… someone to occasionally do the hard parts of parenting… to occasionally be the bad cop… to sometimes argue with them to go to bed, to clean their teeth, to eat their damned dinner… Someone to fight with them about whatever drama and meltdown occurs this time… Just someone to occasionally pick up the slack… someone to say to me – hey, you’re doing okay… you’re not the worst mother in the world… and it’s okay… Just that. It’s okay…

One of my closest friends died almost a year ago, and a part of me is still so damned angry with her! If she’d had regular pap smears, she’d still be here today… And she had to know… and I’m pretty sure she did… and she was scared… but then, when they said the words – maybe a month, probably less – she just went to another place… acceptance… happiness… I think she was just so tired of fighting life…

I look at my son and my heart breaks. I see the vision of who he may become.. the man ready to emerge… but it’s smothered by the anger and the sadness and the hatred boiling within…

I shared this on FB the other day:

dep

his response – well said, mum…

Because this is the bit that people don’t seem to understand. They think that today is a good day, but you’re laughing, you had a fun time… then they take it personally – aren’t I good enough to make you happy, why would you think of killing yourself when you have people who love you, if you love me you wouldn’t even…

They don’t understand the despair… My son tells me – you don’t understand mum, even when I’m having the best time and I’m laughing, I’m still so angry inside…

And anger is a secondary emotion… we know that… but how do you find your way past it to find the primary emotion?

Sometimes, when he is in the midst of his darkest moments and he is talking to me (so yes, they probably aren’t even the darkest moments)… when he sends me photos of his latest cuts to show he hasn’t cut too deep and that he’s not going to bleed to death… when he promises me he will get someone to let me know he is safe at least if he runs… when he refuses to promise what he can’t give you… Sometimes… in these moments… I feel myself drawn down into those depths… and there is so much raw emotion… so much anger and sadness and despair and hatred and…I can’t stay there… I can’t even describe the blackness of it all….

And it’s in these moments… these fleeting, fleeting moments… when my heart is shattering and I just can’t see a way through it all to find him… to hug him… to let him know i am here…. because he can’t hear anyone at these moments… he’s locked himself so deeply within that there’s just no opening…

In these moments…. I understand suicide… I understand why…. and it’s in these fleeting, fleeting moments that I think the unthinkable… at least he will finally find some release… finally be free of this darkness… because how can anyone live with that all the time? How can you possibly live so deeply in that well and survive?

They are fleeting. I want my son. Alive. I want him to be happy, but I’ve been told that’s not something I can qualify… I want him healthy. I want all the things I am supposed to want… but deep down, what I really want is my little boy back. I want to hug him and to hold him and to reach him… I want to find him again and drag him out of that mess. I want to go back in time and undo this mess somehow. To fix it somewhere back when I could. To insist. And a part of me wants to go so far back that I don’t have him at all – because then he wouldn’t be hurting so much… because he tells me this – he can’t forgive me, because I’m the reason he was born… so I want to fix even that for him… because there is nothing in this world that destroys you as much as watching your child in so much pain… and you can’t fix it…

I am angry. I am furious. I am fed up. I am done.

If only saying the words was as effective as making them true.

Eleven years of schooling left. Eleven years of his manipulation left.

This time, it’s Easter. He sold them old. He took the money and left me the kids. That was the deal.

But of course it wasn’t the deal. It wasn’t enough.

Because he wants whatever hurts me most. Whatever still allows some control.

Easter is mine. As is Christmas. And birthdays. But he only wants the ‘occasions’. He wants to tell the world he’s having the kids for Easter. And he wants to hurt me because these occasions matter to me…

I said no. The parenting orders clearly state no. The courts are on my side. There’s nothing he can do about it…

Ho… ho… ho…

FaceTime.

Oh… yes he did…

Mummy! Please, please, please can we have Easter with daddy?! We never get to see him and he can see us that weekend!

Umm, why isn’t he here this weekend? Or next? Or the one after? The one before Easter? The one after? The school holidays?

But mummy…. he’s promised to take us camping and fishing and on the boat and there’s going to be loads of Easter eggs and all the family will be there….

So, yes… there is something he can do about it. Not legally… but he is the king of manipulation after all…

He tried to speak to me as they FaceTimed. I replied: You’ve never done Easter in your life. You weren’t even there for half of them and when you were, you were asleep.

He didn’t even try to deny it… I thought he would. He lies. Incessantly. He rewrites history. But he just agreed…. and that was somehow worse…. because he KNOWS he doesn’t care about Easter! He KNOWS it’s just so he ‘wins’. Just to hurt me because Easter DOES matter to me….

And I hate him… I can’t even begin to describe the deep seated hatred I feel… that I try to quell and ignore… I want him to live until he is old and alone and to die a painful, miserable death… I want him to suffer for all eternity…. and even that won’t be enough after the hell he put us through for all those years… and yet, they were young enough that he has re-written history for them and they think he is amazing. Because it’s so damned easy to be an awesome parent when you only spend a weekend with them every 2 or 3 months…

And I want to believe in karma. I want to believe in an afterlife. I want to believe that somehow, he will get what he deserves….

But I don’t believe in these things. Not enough. The kids think he is incredible. He is so much fun and he’s never grumpy or mean. And if one more person tells me they’ll realise when they’re older, I think I will actually hit them. I really do… because there is absolutely NO guarantee that they will realise when they are older! He is favourite uncle. Disney dad. He is awesome and fun and always happy.

And so… I doubt myself… maybe it was me… maybe I am all those things after all… maybe… maybe… and I hate him… so very, very much.

Please don’t grant me strength…

dd

He got married yesterday – which is great – because he’s (mostly) now leaving me alone. People seem to think I’ll be bothered… and it’s odd… there’s a part of me that IS bothered… but it’s bothered that I made such a bad choice for a husband and the father of my children.

Not for a second have I regretted leaving. So many people told me I’d have doubts… but not one.

I was sifting through paperwork last night, trying to find evidence of qualifications… my paperwork methods really leave a lot to be desired… Sifting through emails… found some relevant documents… and found some old emails from the first 18 months after the split. The abuse. The insanity. The threats. The manipulation.

So I was already feeling a bit rattled… going back down that path is hard…

The kids are there for the wedding. They’re on a train home at the moment actually. The eldest went – the first time in a very long time. He dropped the kids home on 3rd January. They’re there for the wedding this wknd. He wants them for Easter. I said no.

Because, you see… he sold his kids out. All he wanted was the money. So I gave him the money, and he gave me the kids. I can’t seem to make anyone understand. The legal papers state he is entitled to every second weekend and from Boxing Day until New Years Eve. A phone call on a Wednesday evening between 7 and 7:30PM. That’s it! Anything else can be granted, but is not mandatory.

I don’t stop my kids from seeing their father. Ever. He sees them for a weekend every 2 to 3 months – his choice. He was living here for 5 months, knowing for 3 and a half that we were moving here. Two days before we arrived, he took a job near his new girlfriend’s town – a girlfriend he had known for two weeks. Yes, he married her yesterday, but he chose her over seeing his kids, after knowing her for only two weeks.

He wants Easter. I said no. I don’t argue, it’s just not going to happen. Ever. I have the legal documents. I have photos of him still in bed every year on Christmas, Easter and birthday mornings (the birthdays he was there for). He never cared about those occasions. He cared about what presents he received and what food and alcohol was on the table. That was it.

So my eldest has sent me a text. Dad and the whole family have convinced the kids to come here for Easter. All of them, mum. The whole family. Everyone has been at them about it the whole time.

So I am furious. It’s not going to happen. He can take it up with the courts. But yet again I am the ‘bad person’. Every time they come home… “Mummy, if we moved to *** we could see daddy all the time”…. Umm, no…. daddy moved there, we’re not going…. “Mummy, daddy said if I go and live with them I can have an iPad”…. Umm, you have an iPad! “But I’m not allowed to take it to daddy’s place, but if I move there, I can have one for there and one for here”… Umm, you’re not moving to your dad’s…

Eleven more years of schooling. Eleven more years of this manipulation.

Someone… please find me that patience….

I used to be a good parent. I used to care about all those things that don’t really matter. I’d worry about what food they ate, sport they did, homework, friends, music, art, socialising, leadership, chores, downtime, and the list goes on….

I was never really a good parent though. People told me. I didn’t discipline enough… or I disciplined wrong. I gave them junk sometimes. They only had organised activities 6 days a week. I let them wear pink, red and green on the same day. I didn’t jump to intervene when they couldn’t get it to work. I’d walk away and ignore them when they’d throw a tantrum. I didn’t make them wear shoes everywhere. Or jackets. Sometimes there’d be a stain on their shirt.

I like at the eldest – almost 17. She’s amazing. Everyone loves her. She’ll go places. Success! But… she loves junk food… Where did that come from? I only let her have sultanas and yoghurt for a treat… She has no idea how to entertain herself except with TV. Again, wtf? She didn’t even watch The Wiggles until she was 3 and at daycare! She needs to have activities constantly – to be doing something or going somewhere… but her downtime is to watch TV… and she hates to work! Seriously hates it. Hmmmm….

The next child challenged me. He had the same rules. Initially. But they didn’t seem to work for him. We’d go out… he’d misbehave. A while ago, he admitted he’d do it so we’d go home… Most of the time now, he doesn’t talk to me. He has chosen a different path to the one I was guiding him towards. I struggle to accept it, and as he tells me… just because he tells me he loves me, doesn’t mean he actually does….

Then I look at the next two. They’re busy dragging themselves up. And I have to say, they’re doing a much better job at it than I was doing. So… I figure I’ll let them keep going. The youngest had cereal for dinner tonight… again… because as he tells me, he LIKES it. They bicker and gang up on me and drive me batty some days… They don’t do homework. They eat way too much junk. They only do activities that suit them and they’re happy to just sit at home and do nothing quite often. They think chores are optional, as are showers and cleaning your teeth… we do argue over those last two…. But… they seem to be getting it so much better than I ever did… So I think I’ll leave them to it, sit back, observe and learn…