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Friday, June 24, 2011

Relentless: Motherhood and Electronics

My oldest child is eight and a half. I think the thing I was most unprepared for about motherhood is how relentless it is. I mean, everyone tells you about the sleepless nights and the worrying, but no one ever tells you how it never stops, how motherhood doesn't wait for you to get better at it before flinging problems at you, willy-nilly, never caring if you have the resources to handle it or if you have a clue what to do, and then like bad diarrhea, it just keeps happening over and over and over and over.

Did someone say fish tacos?

(Image from here--this is no reflection on this recipe, which I'm sure is great! Just a randomly selected photo, promise.)

I've been thinking all about my little family and what I want for us. We are far from what I want for us. It's no secret I'm bipolar type II. This comes with all sorts of challenges as a mother, mostly feeling so inadequate for what I want to be for my children. I've been on medication for 10 months and it is helping, but not enough. I want to be more, dang it! Most of the time, I feel like I'm hanging out in low level depression mode. I can function enough to take care of them, but not enough to really be the type of mom I want to be.

I'm not sure what has infected our family lately. Perpetual bad mood? A visit from the grumpy fairy who sprinkled us with grouchy dust? We got hit with the irritable stick? It's like crankiness has exploded in here. One of my sons is such a challenging little guy. I'm at a loss. I keep thinking I need to get professional help, and I need to do that, I need to need to need to. I guess maybe I am typing this to put it out there to make myself do that?  I'm exhausted in attempting to deal with the situation. I could probably write a Lifetime movie to explain all the interactions and how we got here, but my heart breaks to see him in such a place and yet I am so frustrated with his outbursts, the way he can't stop annoying/pestering/fighting with everyone in the family, his defiance at everything I say, the fits, the way he can't seem to stop hurting his siblings. These are things we don't tolerate in our family. He doesn't go unpunished, but yet I try to not make him the bad guy as he seems to have already cast himself in that role. A few years ago, his self-esteem was horribly low, so I've been working with him on that and I know he feels much better about himself now, yet the behavior has become so intolerable the last few months. Much, much worse than it has ever been before. It doesn't seem to matter what approach I take, the behavior continues.

I feel like I'm on the verge of a breakdown. And with my mental health, that's not some hyperbolic breakdown. That's like a real threat (don't tell anyone, but sometimes I kind of wish for a breakdown, because then I could have the "break" in breakdown, but so far, my brain only thinks it's on the verge of a breakdown and I seem to be made of non-breakdown bipolar stuff, instead of the type that does have breakdowns, but you never know! Could happen! I know that breakdowns are awful, so I shouldn't say that last part so cheerfully, but when you are desperate, you are desperate).

Anyway, if you've made it past those very depressing paragraphs (if my tone has seemed off the last few months, now you know why), I guess I've come to the point of this post! At last! My husband and I have been talking about going unplugged for the rest of the summer. It's hard to admit, but I let the kids watch way too much TV and play way too many video games, even if they are the educational ones on the computer for the most part. And I watch way too much TV and spend too much time surfing the web. I know it contributes to my depression and I think it's contributing to the way our home feels. We don't spend enough time together. I don't spend enough time with the kids. I want my home to be a place where I'm happy to be, not a place I fantasize about escaping from (I know a certain amount of that is normal, but we probably passed that point about six? seven? eight? weeks ago).

For the super ironic part, I am planning on blogging about the experience! Go ahead, you may laugh at my folly now! For how else should the modern world work, if we could not write about and share our experiences of giving up electronics through electronic devices? I'm planning on popping in here every so often and letting you know how we are doing and of course, doing some craft-related blogging as usual. So, mostly I guess I'm giving up mindless web-surfing and keeping the computer on all day, not all my computer usage. After all, tomorrow morning, I'm planning on googling sewing machine repair shops. Finally.
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  1. Anonymous7:26 AM

    Kara you aren't alone, most 8 year olds go through that, every mom that I've talked to has had the same problem with their 8-9 year old, I'm no exception. Its like they aren't a kid anymore, but they're not a teen and they don't know where they fit. I will give you hope, my 8yr old was just awful for almost this entire year, one minute she's at the heights of giddyness and then the next she's in the depths of misery, there was no in between. She'd tell me "mom I'm so mad and I don't know why I'm even mad" she didn't even get it. Its hormones and growing up. But I've noticed in the last month or so she's really starting to even out, today is her 9th birthday and things are looking up :)

  2. Oh Kara, hang in there!! I had some real up and down issues with my now 23 yr old daughter (my eldest child) throughout her childhood. I can empathize. I think turning off the TV is a good idea. When reading that, it made me think of the Berenstein Bear's book.. Too Much TV... :) Yes, I own it! :) It was my oldest's book. Hang in there, things will get better.

  3. Well, I could have written this post. So, in other words, I have no input because I too am struggling. Good luck with your journey & I hope unplugging for a while helps you out!

  4. Sorry for the struggles. I'm with you on the tv issue. We cut the cable 11 months ago and it's been great. We still have some DVDs for the kids, and I watch a few shows online, but now they are deliberate choices rather than just having the set on for hours at a time. It almost sounds ridiculous to say it, but I was really anxious about losing television (at first). Now though, it's great. Lots more time to go out and take a bike ride with my boys, work on crafts, etc. Go for it!

  5. Kara, you are NOT alone! I too have one child that likes to spread their unhappiness to the rest. My girls bicker at each other like no other. I have found cutting back on electronics helps, you'll get better in spurts, it won't be perfection from the beginning since there will be revolt. As for wishing for a mental breakdown, I know what you mean. Because then your brain could take a vacay from your life, which is altogether too difficult sometimes.


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