I’m way into that, and self-criticism I’m quite hard on myself for the most part. I’m constantly evaluating how I measure up physically, how my parental performance measures up, how I measure up as a caring friend human being, everything gets the score card treatment. This does effect my mood and some days everything seems black and clouded: I feel the judgement: mine and my perception of others, pounding down on me like a thunderstorm.
But this week I’ve been reflecting on my take on the validity of traditional relationships. On Halloween I was asked if I was on a date when some school mums bumped into me sitting with Jack,withour kids, at a very public local club frequented by school parents. Hmm I thought, dates.. dates, they’re what you have at restaurants, with romantic lighting. Not the local tennis club with poker machines and tables full of school parents waiting for their young’un’s to finish lessons.
I’m there many Fridays, with a group of single parents. A few weeks ago it was with just one parent and good friend and her boy. A week before that it was with a few of us. This time it was just Jack; luck of the draw, but still I should have expected the second glances and the gossip.
Anyway asked the question I gave a confident and emphatic “no. so not a date.” It was a truthful answer that triggered ‘why not? Questions later in the week.
For one thing that night Jack was critiquing my parenting skills; he makes helicopter noises when I’m fussing over Lily. But often when I’m with Jack I feel like I’m in a psych-eval, that he’s watching and scoring everything I do. Then he wonders out loud why I’m so guarded. Well Dur.
I know it’s an occupational hazard for him as a psychologist, but to me it smacks of that hideous date I had , that felt like a bad job interview, with the HR guy.
We share so many core values Jack and I. We both love a good debate on Life the Universe and Everything else. But I don’t want to debate my performance as a mother.
I suffer from anxiety, I’m working on that, but considering that I scored 80% on the preliminary PTSD diagnosis, I think I’m a lot less of a basket case than I might be.
I’m doing OK.
I remain optimistic, I never have feelings of hopelessness or struggle with self-worth. My little girl may have some minor issues with loss of confidence, and an attraction to manipulative and moody friends, but surely I’m not to blame for all of that? I actively work on strategies to correct that; It can’t be all my fault.
We are both of us Lily and I rebalancing after our ship was almost capsized. We took on a lot of water and I’m still bailing; working the pumps.
But this week I really took a hard look at my take on relationships and co-habitation. Before I met Lily’s father I thought I had it sussed. At the time we met, I had a couple of birds in the hand and at least one in the bush and I was looking forward to keeping my options open on a lengthy basis. Then I became a backslider, falling into the arms of a man ready to rescue me from my problems. (which at the time where minor).
Now I have mine and Lily’s home, the dog the cat our little routine, the father living within a kilometre but no longer on our doorstep most nights.
I have contentment of sorts.
No, more than that, thinking about a solo future I feel peace. My future dreams involve just my own career and dreams and of course Lily’s future.
Hind sight is a strange thing.
I think back over the past sixteen years at how happy and fulfilled I thought I was and how I could happily have continued on like that for another sixteen years; maybe more. It’s only after you’re plucked out of that existence that you truly see how you function, what you truly need; what makes you happy and how it’s OK to be a little bit selfish and not want to compromise on putting yourself first when you need to. To actually recognise when you need to prioritise yourself; something that becomes more difficult after you have children.
I used to look at romantic films and sigh, dreaming of the day I would find my hero. In the first year after the rug was violently pulled out from under me, romantic films made me sick. I couldn’t watch them because I would practically choke on the bile of my own cynicism.
Now I look at them for what they are and I enjoy them again. I look at the impossible hero, worshiping the heroine and not ashamed of showing it.. and like an artwork I admire it’s beauty because of what it is, a gorgeously constructed fantasy.
When I’ve pumped and bailed out all of the water weighing our boat down, and we are buoyant, bobbing gaily above the waterline again, my reality will be just as beautiful. I will be independent, creating my own I won’t live in anyone else’s home or have them live in ours. And I will have friends around me many of them already here and new ones, maybe one or two with benefits and none of us will over burden each other or ask for too much.life the way I want it, showing my daughter how she can do the same.
These are my dreams today.