Dear Happy Cow
I have lost my way and although I continue to try to get myself back on track it would appear that I get derailed from time to time. This is a story about me and my beautiful daughter. Please bear with me if it goes on a bit but I think I need to write it.When she was born I was so utterly consumed with joy, delight, and awe. I remember feeling like I wanted to make love to my husband immediately that is how much love I felt. She was beautiful. I always wanted children, I was delighted to have a baby girl and I couldn't wait to get to know her.
She wasn't what some would call contented. She cried a lot. She was either sleeping, eating, vomiting (this was so frequent that we referred to the Children's hospital) or crying. She often cried while I was feeding her. I wonder if I can convey how distressing it is when your baby cries while you are nursing them. Nursing a baby is one of the things a mother does to sooth their child and she was screaming. But, she was an infant, they cry. I loved her and enjoyed every moment with her. When she was about 6 months old while we were visiting family she cried and vomited a lot, as usual, but on that occasion my husband commented on her crying while I was feeding her as if he had no idea that was what happened. I burst into tears and said this is what she does!
So it seems we have always battled. When she was a toddler she and I both found it hard. The screaming and crying didn't stop. She would start the moment she woke up in the morning. I started to find excuses not to go to her first so that her father could deal with the morning wake up call. I was tired. I had been pretty unwell after my pregnancy, I was working 2 jobs and doing a full-time PhD and bore the brunt of the domestic chores. I wasn't the best mother to her at that time. I couldn't wait for her to go to sleep at night. Then one night as I lay next to her willing her to go to sleep I noticed that I was completely wooden. I had become stiff, unyielding and cold. At that moment I realised that there was no way things were going to change unless I chose love. And I did.
The dramas continued. There were many occasions when I didn't know how to respond, what would be the best course of action, how to just let my daughter feel loved because I am pretty sure she very often doesn't. When she was about 6 or 7 she was very upset before leaving for school because of her shoes. I remained calm but she really didn't. We walked to school and as we approached the road I said, "come on, straight across." She responded, "No! I want to get hit by a car and die!" I was so taken aback I couldn't respond. I just wanted to get her to school without bursting into tears. I just about managed it. When I returned home I called my husband and was distraught. It wasn't the tantrum it was the level of despair to something like a scuff on her shoe. I didn't know how to address that.
Today is no different Happy Cow. Dramas continue and while I think I have learned to remain calm, on most occasions, I continue to be shocked by the scale of the drama. The most recent has been about me not letting my daughter go out with her friend one afternoon. We had spent the weekend doing lots of fun things, swimming, a fair 2 sleepovers, ordered in pizzas. I didn't allow her to go out with her friend for 2 reasons: First I knew she was exhausted and I wanted her to rest a bit before school the next day; and second her father was coming over shortly to pick up her and her sister. She was cross said she hated me and that I was horrible. She went upstairs where I heard her banging her door several times but ignored it. Later I discovered that she smashed a hole through the wall with all the banging. The result is that I have told her she is not allowed out to play, go to friends or have friends over for a fortnight. I have said that I understand that she didn't know she was going to break through the wall when banging the door and the point of me placing those restrictions was to show her that her actions have consequences. It has been a week now and she is petty angry with me and thinks I am being totally unfair. I am starting to wonder if there is any point with imposing this consequence if she doesn't understand that it is a consequence (I have explained it several times and no doubt will do a few more times before the end of the 2 weeks). I also recognise that what I have done is set up an artificial consequence which has just prolonged the battle. I have now taken away that restriction because I believe it wasn't the right thing to do.
What really upsets me Happy Cow is that I don't think she feels loved. She is so angry at me most of the time that I am pretty certain she doesn't feel loved by me. Dramas, tantrums, vomiting, holes in walls are just things that have happened but the knowledge that she doesn't feel loved almost leaves me in despair. I know the past is the past and I don't need to tell myself that story because we live in the now but I have lost my way with my beautiful daughter, I don't know what to do. I love her immensely.
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