The Day I Failed My Family

Ok, so I may be being slightly melodramatic but yesterday I arrived home from university and sobbed so hard it was like someone had died.  I really did feel as though I had failed my family.  Being a busy working Mum and student Mum is not an easy task.  I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that life throws my way but I am tired a lot of the time and I don’t always get to do the things with the children that I was able to do when I wasn’t working, and also before university began this September.

The girls Mum mentioned last week to me that Isis had complained she was bored at our house and that they always had to leave me alone.  Now I know that this isn’t actually true mostly and it was said to hurt me, Isis would’ve text her Mum as a flyaway comment on the one off day that this was true (in the summer when I had worked three nights in a row, I remember the weekend).  Isis was horrified that this was said to me, she didn’t deny it all, she just explained that it had been taken completely out of context.  She told me that she understands that I work nights to pay for their extra curricula’s and she loves being at our home.

Now I know that this is definitely more true of a scenario because I can tell when they are unhappy, I know the days when they are going stir crazy and we need to get them out of the house.  They have been very tolerant with my lack-lustre energy now that I work four nights a week, but they also understand why it’s the case.  Now the babies don’t have this understanding yet.  Judah’s behaviour has changed recently.  My little boy that was always (ok more like 95%, he is a toddler) so good, well mannered, sweet, has begun shouting, screaming, dragging his baby sister around with no regard for how it may affect her and I can see that he is desperate for our attention.

He has had our attention completely ever since he was born.  I was self-employed teaching at home, he would have James to watch him and play with him when I was in lessons.  If I was ever really unwell, he would go to my Mum who would give him her undivided attention.  We then had an au pair when I was struggling to keep on top of things so that he could have her undivided attention if I needed to get on with anything else.  He has been spoilt for attention and now he is at pre-school.  He loves it, don’t get me wrong he absolutely loves it, and it was EXACTLY what he needed.  He loves playing with all the toys, he comes home constantly singing the songs that he learns.  He’s usually wet through as he’s been allowed to just play with the water tray and trash his clothes, something I don’t really do much at home, unless it’s the summer months and even then it’s about space, there isn’t much room to sit outside and watch him play in our little garden at the moment.

Eden has been going to a friends whilst I’ve been at uni, she’s probably had the biggest change to be honest, but she is with a dear friend who I would trust with my life, who has two little children and Eden has not been missing out.  She’s been having a lovely time and playing with the older children when they’re not at pre-school and school.  It’s like she has another little family that she hangs out with.  I know that she misses me, but she’s also going through that independent stage, so really as far as Eden’s concerned the timing couldn’t have been better.  Had I been putting her into a nursery yet, it may have been different, but as it stands she loves going to my friends, and Tanya does a lot with her.  She’s always had a lovely day and is happy to see me when I (or James) collect her.

Ok, now I’ve lengthily set the scene, let me tell you about yesterday.  Yesterday I was at university in the morning for two lectures.  I then have a HUGE gap of 5 hours before I have a meeting as I am the Online Editor of the university newspaper (‘Pluto’ – furthest from The Sun).  When I’m exhausted from working nights I will sometimes go home and have a nap in that gap, but if I have the energy I try and stay at university and use that time to get some work done that needs doing.  Work for my blog, work for uni, work for the newspaper, there is ALWAYS something to do.  Yesterday with it being half-term and Judah’s pre-school being closed James had booked in some working from home days to be with the babies until I finished lectures.  He told me to stay at uni and get whatever done that I needed to.

Then everything changed, Eden was unwell so I booked her a GP appointment for in the afternoon.  She’d had a rotten cough and cold, but now her little voice had changed and I was worried it had become an infection.  James text me saying that he had to call in work and tell them he couldn’t work as he was sick.  I knew that he must feel really unwell to not even be able to answer the phone at home.  I told him I would come straight home after lectures and forget my meeting.  He told me that he was ok, he could cope, he was snuggled up on the sofa and the babies were happy playing in their play area (we have like an open plan play room that is part of the lounge downstairs) and watching TV.

So, I had my uneventful day, with technical issues and technology failures I really didn’t get much done.  In FIVE HOURS I really didn’t get much done.  Then I attended the meeting I needed to, and we didn’t really discuss anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I learned something, we were learning how to use the software that we print the newspaper in, but this is something I could’ve figured out at home.  James came to collect me, and then I saw how bad things were:

I got in the driver’s seat to drive home as I could see he’d literally brought a sick bucket with him.

We got home and Eden was so unwell, she’d been diagnosed with a viral wheeze? whatever that means.  She’d been given a teeny inhaler and spacer and James was too unwell to have thought to give her some already.  She was crying (and it sounded awful as she could barely make a sound), wheezing, all snotty, pushing me away because it’s like she doesn’t want to be comforted by me anymore, as I’m now the care giver that sees her the least.  I just held my crying baby in my arms as she fought me comforting her, and I sobbed.  I broke down and sobbed.  James had gone off to be sick in the upstairs bathroom.  I felt absolutely HORRENDOUS.  What had I been doing all day?  My family desperately needed me and I’d been faffing around with computers all day.

I opened Eden’s new inhaler and spacer and gave it to her.  I undressed her (with a lot of resistance) and put her in some comfy pyjamas and just cuddled her.  I cradled her in my arms, put some olbas oil on her clothes and watched as when James carried her out of my arms to bed, she instantly calmed.  I knew she felt better after we gave her some medicine, but she really settled once she was in her Dad’s arms.

My Mum text me asking how my day was, I wanted to tell her but I knew that what I’d get back wouldn’t comfort me, but be more like an ‘I told you so’ as she thinks that I should be at home with the babies until they go to school.  ‘They’re only little for a short time’.  And she’s right but James and I have made some decisions for our family that we felt were best.  Days like yesterday make it hard to believe that they are for the best.  I wanted to just throw everything in, I felt like an absolute failure as a wife and mother but the reality is, this was a one off.  This was James trying to “support” me in my studies and refusing my help as I offered many times throughout the day to come home.  I should’ve known to ignore his dismissive nature and go home anyway, but I didn’t.  I let them all down.  It may have just been one day, but has definitely made me rethink things.

I had some brilliant advice from a friend when I was mid melt down and I’m putting it out here for anyone else who feels like me :

‘Seriously Alex, that is absolutely normal. It’s natural that you want to protect them from life’s bumps in the road but real life isn’t plain sailing. We have been through some monumental struggles where you question everything, every decision, every disagreement and the things you do to make your family better can often disrupt their behaviour. Don’t forget that Eden and Judah have had your attention for most of their lives so far so of course they are playing up a bit when that changes. James too needs to find his new place in it all. But I honestly believe that the uncomfortable moments are a time for growth and without them, nothing would grow. Nobody likes change but when we push through change it makes us a bit more rounded. If you are really worried, I’d urge you to revisit what you are feeling right now in exactly one month. If it’s the same, then maybe change again. Adjustments are never easy and you are all going through adjustment at the moment. Let it settle before you change it if that’s what is needed. There is no shame in changing your mind about decisions you have made, but there is also nothing wrong with carrying on and finding a new normal that, although painful at first, helps your children to be independent of you. That’s what a mums job is….to equip them.’

These were such wise words and exactly what I needed to hear.  I hope this transparent, bare all post helps someone else to feel better about decisions they have made in their lives.

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