Painie Parenting – The Hard Stuff

Image by Alex Lanz via Flickr

It seems that Parenting has become like that of a competitive sport. All children must excel at sports, academics and music. They must be in many and varied extra circular activities. They must be dressed beautifully at all times. They must be socially responsible. As a Parent, you must be organized, involved, enthusiastic and gregarious. If you are a working mother, then your job should be great, you should look great and you should be as involved as the Stay at Homes. The Stay at H0mes, must be dressed impeccably at all times, exercise, have an immaculate house, be incredibly involved and under the guise that you will be going back to work. If you are not going back to work – then you must appease the masses by doing more volunteer work…………..

Our children are being brought up in a society where there is a sense of entitlement – that baffles me. It seems that every child NEEDS a cell/iPod/iPad/DS etc. etc. They must have the BEST parties, the BEST presents, The Best, the best…the best. Your child must walk early, talk early. Your child must be the lead in the play. Your child must be the best dancer/skater/hockey player….athelete. Your child must be good looking and well dressed at all times. Your child must have every gadget/fad/toy/program etc. as the rest of their friends…….without question.

Healthy parents have a difficult time trying to keep up with the expectations… how in the Hell are we Painie Parents supposed to?

My upbringing was highly dysfunctional. The stories I could share…..well that is for another Blog. I always wanted children; one of the reasons being to change the pattern of behaviour in this family. When they placed my first child in my arms I could not believe the intensity of love. A few days later – I was slammed right between the eyes with: “Why couldn’t my parents love me like that?” – “What about me is/was so unlovable”.

I share this thought because it plagues me still. That little voice inside my head got louder when I had my second and the disability came. It made me feel two things:

  1. How am I going to parent and not totally mess it up – not only am I broken inside but now outside too?
  2. I will fill in the holes with cement if I have to – I will focus on everything I do as a parent – and do it well. I now am forced to be quiet with them.

All the things I thought I would be able to do – I can’t:

  • teach them to ski – I was a very talented skiier (not many things I could do well – but that was one of them)
  • teach them to skate – never good at this but would try
  • tobbagan with them
  • teach them to swim – took them in as babies until 2006 when medication barred me from swimming
  • teach them to drive a boat
  • volunteer in their classrooms all the time.
  • take them on nature walks
  • go to Wonderland
  • Go to the Amusement Park
  • Dance with them all the time
  • etc.

I worked 2 jobs when the kids were small and did this while in the worst type of pain. I don’t remember 3 years. To my baby I wasn’t able to take her to all the playgroups I wanted to. Failure is a constant in my mind. So many things I had envisioned I would do with them – but have not been able to.

In the early years – I would hear the struggles of how hard it was for so many women. How sleep deprivation and exhaustion took them over. The loads of laundry that haunted them. The baked goods that need to be delivered to various events, while having to cook dinner and clean the house. Each mother I knew shared their stories.

Who could I share with? Getting the kids dressed was a major hurdle for me. I made the kids nap until full day school – because I simply did not have the strength to watch them. Tears would fall down my face in anguish as I carried my infant while grocery shopping. A task that is difficult for any new mother – but for me was like being kicked in the side for 2 hours. My one daughter was in a co-op daycare which meant I had to volunteer there 2 days a month. I also had my infant. Those days were excruciating. All other mothers – complained about bringing their snacks. That was the least of my problems. The pain I would be in after those days was memorable. The teachers there – thought I was the laziest because I wouldn’t take the dishes out. Lifting that and my infant was a Herculean task – I was not up to. That was the beginning of my isolation from other mothers.

Book club nights – not at my house were too hard to manage. As my pain got worse, I didn’t like being in other people’s houses – my comfort zone became a finite space. Pity – never my favourite emotion – was something I couldn’t/can’t take. I didn’t/don’t want people to see me this way.

I know my situation was unfathomable. Pain is invisible – I know I was fodder for gossip. Only being seen in public – in; I looked fine. What was my problem? Nobody wants to be seen sick – how am I different?

After school programs have been provided for my kids. Swimming is a MUST – dancing, tennis etc. They each have 2 things they are allowed to do; while their peers have 4 or 7. Financially, we can’t do it as we are now living on one income and my medical expenses are too high. Physically, I can’t manage it I feel like my children have lost out where others have so many different lessons – mine don’t.

School trips are out for me. I can’t be on a bus – or walking around a Zoo without the ability to leave at any time. I can’t take them out to dinner – chairs are uncomfortable. I have volunteered in my kids classes 1 time in 7 years – since the co-op.

As Painie Parents – we all had visions of what type of parents we would be. Sure as Sh*& wasn’t this. We got cheated in a lot of ways….they got cheated……our spouses got cheated.


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