Friday, 23 April 2010

Bringing up boys: how quickly we can turn on those we hold dear...

This post first appreared on my Cage without a key blog but I felt it was part of an answer to a question posed on British Mummy Bloggers by Deer Baby about how  depression can affect children. In my next post I'll write about what fears I have for my family because of my depression ...

Both my boys are in bed. There’s nothing unusual in that as the clock strikes a quarter to the hour this evening. What is different is that there is an eerie silence. This follows an almighty outburst by me and the breaking of Bog Boy’s melamine Elmer Plate. I am as usual not proud.

Today has been a particularly stressful day but there is still no excuse - rather an explanation of events and how easily things can go very, very, pear-shaped and how easily you can lash out at those most dear.

Everything should have been fine today even though Charlie was back at work but right from the outset it was just going to be one of those days. Firstly his car would not start and that meant he had to get me up to take him to the station at 5.45am. No worries I used the time on my return to have a lovely quiet breakfast as I let the boys sleep in a little.

I asked them both what they wanted and let them watch TV until breakfast was ready. Bad move. Never, ever let your kids watch telly until they have had breakfast as you’ll not get them to the table without a fight even if only moments before they were telling you how hungry they were.

Trying to get cereal, toast and bacon and eggs eaten in the few ad breaks before Dinosaur King is bound to be a hiding to nothing.

Suffice to say Bog Boy got the short straw as once he ate his cereal he was off only to return a moment later asking for bacon. Problem was as he’d told me he did not want to eat a cooked breakfast; I ate the last piece of bacon in the house moments before. There was a lot of sulking and stamping of feet and how much he hated me.

Top tip: No use trying to reason with a three/nearly four year old…

So feeling I was not exactly heading for the Mother of the Year Award, next on my agenda was to let the chickens out or not as the case maybe.

It’s a long story but suffice to say neighbourly disputes especially when they get nasty are hardly pleasant and it’s not very nice when you are the one in the middle. Before 9am this morning apart from being told what a horrid mummy I was I was also accused of being a thief, a liar, an hysterical woman and that I was pitied because I was married to Charlie – who basically was the devil incarnate.


I always find it edifying knowing that I am some sort of buffer zone between warring factions. A bit like Poland during WWII and like that poor beleaguered country I got well and truly invaded.

I don’t like it when I am shouted at and intimidated or when someone is overtly aggressive. (Yeah I know I did it to my kids this evening – add hypocrite to my list of crimes…)

Anyway, I did not let my chickens out; I arranged for the builders, to turn their hands to building a massive hen pen so that my chooks would not be able to trespass onto my neighbours land – but hey that didn’t work. Well it did, in that I now have an amazing all singing, all dancing, hen pen, but my neighbour was still not pacified.

I have a feeling he did not want to be and he went ahead with his threat to take his goats across my land because my chickens invaded his even though they had not. The chickens he was referring to were chicken that had adopted his wife and were on his land all the time anyway but in the middle of a dispute you're not going to be interested in semantics especially if you have a point to prove.

I spent all day in a state of heightened anxiety sometimes fine, sometimes crying, mostly agitated and worrying. Not looking forward to telling Charlie then not looking forward to the inevitable showdown that would follow.

I made the boys supper and as they were eating it I went to call Charlie to find out when he was coming home. That was when the boys decided to have a fight. I could not hear clearly and just when I thought I had got through the line switched to ansamachine. I called again, the noise the boys were making made it difficult for me to hear. I told them to shut up.

Having failed to ascertain when my husband would return I watched as the sun started to go down, any minute now and the second part of my neighbours threat would start, he bringing his goats back across the garden from the field where they had been grazing all day. Added to that I was not too sure how much attention would be spent on preventing the goats from having the inevitable nibble here, and quick bite there, of hubbies precious Populus nigra.

I brusquely told the boys to pipe down and didn’t pay them attention much but the whining was increasing and the calls on my attention were getting more persistent.

The Boy: Mum, Mum, MUM! I have to tell you something.....

Me: Not now Boy

The Boy: But I have to tell you!

Me: No I do not want to hear! Not now...

The Boy: But I have too...

Me: NO!!!!!!!

The Boy, carrying on regardless: Bog Boy put a bit of sausage on my plate, it’s not fair…!

I grabbed his plate, deftly scooped all the sausages, potatoes and peas and deposited them on Bog Boy’s plate them slammed down The Boy’s plate on the table. Unfortunately I was a little harder than I expected and the plate shot across the table and spun like a frizz bee across the kitchen smashing against a metal vegetable rack and splintering into four pieces before landing on the floor.

There was a deathly hush.

Then Bog Boy started to wail: ELMER!!!!! MY Elmer plate, you broke my Elmer plate!!!!

I’d like to say my response was one of a contrite mother but my brain was a little behind my actions and I snarled out: "Bugger your plate!" At the same time as my brain focussed on the fact that it really was Bog Boy’s favourite plate that I had broken. I was a little taken aback to realise it was in pieces and thought: "Blimey! I had no idea plastic could break."

By the time my brain registered that fact; I had already told the boys to get thee hence to bed and supper was over. They shot up the stairs, sniffling and sobbing and quickly got undressed ready for bed. I sat on the stairs staring out the window aware and not aware of what was going on, reflecting on the fact that I had thought myself so under control , so calm but patently I was not and once again it was my boys that bore the brunt.

As usual I apologised and explained that it was not them but that sometimes they needed to listen to Mummy and to do as they were told, not to interrupt when she is on the phone, to wait until she is ready to listen, to hear when she says she is tired and is grumpy. Hard lessons for little boys, hard lessons for any child, whatever age.


TheMadHouse said...

Oh f**k. I am sat here in tears. I grew up with depression and too am a sufferer. This makes me shiver and I am so upset for all involved.

I have been there, done it and have it done to me. I often feel like I am stuck in a behvioral pattern with me destined to repeat the mistakes my mother make.

But that was hat also spurred me on to my treatment, through the hard work of CBT and it is what keeps me mostly on the straight and narrow.

I remember the feeling of dread, the not knowing it mum was going to be rational and I really want a better childhood for my boys.

I dont know if I am managing it yet though

ELS said...

Poor you, I totally sympathise with your struggle. You did the right thing apologising and explaining, so much worse to just let them go to bed on that. I know you will beat yourself up, but do try not to, the way you write about them and the life you are giving them show beyond all doubt that you are a good mummy and by christ, we all cock up spectacularly and regularly.

Am also surprised that platic breaks... big x

Ladybird World Mother said...

Poor Tattie. I have the odd major cock up here. Feel like a complete heel. AM a complete heel. But... I always, like you, explain why the hell I was such a foul mother. And more often than not, they get it.
I so feel for you. Days like your one are the pits. We all get them, but depression makes them unbearable. And as we HAVE to bear it, it can be pure hell. Big hugs. xxxx

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Poor you .... a difficult day , which you just got on with , with no more nor less success than we all would have done .
Might be better to point out to neighbour at next encounter that you're not going to argue with him and just walk away .It'll save you time and energy . If Charlie wants to carry on the feud , leave it to him , but refuse to be drawn in . Too wearing !

Preseli Mags said...

Big sympathy from here too. It all seems perfectly normal to me though - perhaps because I observed many such outbursts from my own mother, perhaps because I've done the same myself.

Sympathy too over the neighbourly dispute. I too was told I was married to the devil incarnate. "He's evil," she growled as she stood outside the door of the church. Things are better now, but it's horrible while it's happening.

Anonymous said...


Tattie Weasle said...

TheMadhouse - Don't cry 'cos you'll make me do so too...I think talking about it openly, if openly it is on a blog, shows there are a lot of things we all have in common. Depression for some and also the fact that we are not defined by it merely that it is part of our lives to a greater or lesser extent. be open. It helps on all levels and also with your children. If they know you feelign bad they know what to expect even if they are very little. My boys still love me and yours will always love you.
ELS - do you know I always expected plastic to bounce or is that just rubber??? Thansk for the relaity check in that we all cock up spectacularly...:)
Ladybird World Mother - Explanations and openess becoming a bit like a mantra. The only thing I hold onto is that if I keep the dialogue going sometime in the future they'll tell me if it worked. Crossing fingers I'll like what they say...
SmitoniusAndSonata - Charlie and Neighbour have been made to say sorry to each other and neighbour brought along a tray of celeriac seedlings as a peace offering..storms in tea cups!
Preseli Mags - that is heartening to hear; I am always wondergin whether I am normal!

Go on you know you want to...


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