Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009: Need to Vent

A very quick update and venting session in the few minutes I have to myself.

Pat and the kids have arrived here. After what happened last time, gritting my teeth and with many misgivings, I invited Pat to come again after this second birth. Pat is in much better psychological condition than before, following a good home birth in a birthing pool which went smoothly, and the new baby is a sleepy and easy delight, despite apparently needing to be breastfed for about 16 hours of each day (poor Pat).

Unfortunately, my young two year old goddaughter, who I will call Mary, appears to be a little hellion, having screaming, screeching tantrums on a regular basis - initially it seemed to be every 45 minutes or so but she seems to be mellowing to a two-hour cycle, now. It's been very difficult to relax.

Never have I been prouder of my generous, even-tempered and friendly Little Dude who plays with her beautifully. Every so often, when the playing turns to teasing and harrassment of him, he withdraws to his room for a while and plays quietly by himself, but he has been incredibly patient and sweet with her - rather better than me, in fact. In all honesty, young Mary is not an easy child to warm to. I normally like two year olds very much, even naughty and intense ones, but even making many allowances for the difficult family situation, the disruption of the flight here, and her natural jealousy of a new baby, this one is very hard work.

I am doing my very best to be helpful and encouraging rather than make things worse. But the constant racket and disruption in addition to all the childcare and domestic support needed is making me grumpy and irritable.

Attachment parenting, in my humble opinion, is all very well when its slings and breastfeeding for babies and a close, warm relationship with children. But Pat's version of it seems to involve remarkably few behaviour limits for a two year old and none of the semi-regular routines that I think work well for young children. Also no regular bedtime. As a result, this lttle girl is intermittently sweet and funny and brave, but also frequently overtired, overstimulated, and certainly not well slept. She spends a lot of time rampaging around, red-eyed and in a state of virtual hysteria. The resulting behaviour problems are very bad, but also are very, very predictable.

I am feeling quite worn out and the Big Dude is, too. The Big Dude has the mutinous air of a man who is being pushed too far, and I am all too aware that I got us into this one.

I truly feared that Christmas would be a disaster, but miraculously, young Mary fell asleep for a while and, as a result, there was quite a lot of relaxing, playing, eating and listening to the gentle rain fall. There were peaceful moments where all was well.

As we are flat out here with very little time to ourselves, I may not write again for a while. But I wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

What Next?

Perhaps surprisingly, I seem to be okay. Sad and subdued, but not depressed. I've enjoyed weekends with a house filled with kids and long sessions on hot summer days with a blow-up swimming pool, icecreams and water pistols, and it was quite fun, even for me.

I am already thinking about my Plans B (more career emphasis) and C (some respite volunteering, posssibly as a precursor to fostering).

Yes, I am seriously considering Plan C: Fostering. I don't think of it as a substitute for another biological child. More as a way of making some good come out of this depressing situation. If we had the capacity for a second child, perhaps we have the capacity to give a child who is already alive some love and stability.

Sometimes when I looked around at the clinic and saw the yearning faces on the women, then looked at the posters begging for foster carers with the sad faces of the children, I felt like some connection should be made.

Actually, having all these kids in our house has increased that feeling. It has reminded me that, actually, I never really yearned for a baby, as such. When I think about what I want, it's always an older child running around the house, talking at the dinner table, and playing with the Little Dude. It's almost as if what I really want is a certain level of riotous noise - without it, the house seems too quiet, our lives just a little bit too empty.

But of course, it is not as simple as that. As someone who had a problematic father, I have some sense of what a stable adult can bring to a kid's life, the value of just having another adult to rely on and talk to. When I was a kid, I cultivated my own "auntie" type adults. But I also have an idea of the kind of disruption and probable sadness it would bring, too. If you bring a child into your life, you also bring their parents into your life. Would there be drunken, abusive, mentally ill parents at my door at 3am? Quite possibly. And I could get that from within my own family!

In some ways, what I should do now is Plan B: Work on my career, earn more money. For a start, we are pretty broke thanks to our financially ruinous IVF habit. Plus, it would be building on what I am good at and do naturally. I always find it easy to lose myself in work. I go back to work with a sigh of relief like some people go back to using their dominant right hand after a long period of clumsily trying to use their left following a bad break.

But I feel I need something that feeds my heart. That creates some connection with other people. That gives a purpose to all this spare love that currently has no othe direction, this impulse to rescue, this ability to care for others. It's not my dominant hand, but these years of being a carer, of being a mother, have given me some kind of skill with that left hand that maybe shouldn't be wasted.

The Big Dude is not at all keen. I think he was hoping for a quiet life in front of the telly. But I'm only 38 and I'm not ready for a life in front of the telly.