Every day I am pretty sure I do at least one thing wrong. Most days I do more. I used to think I was alone, until I talked to other parents who were honest. Here is a place for more parents to feel less alone, and more "good enough".

Saturday, 17 March 2012

"I'm a little bit of everything, all rolled into one"

My head is rather swimming these days. Every day I seem to find something new to learn about, become interested in, to want to be involved in. I see other people doing things, looking things up and researching, trying them out with their families and friends. And I wonder, how do they do it? Sometimes I feel like I am barely keeping my head above the water, keeping the house tidy and organised, ensuring Adam is doing ok at school and has everything he needs, ensuring Jessica is happy during the day and we do enough "stuff" ie painting, baking, drawing, lego building, outdoor time etc etc.
I tie myself up in knots, and worry do I come across as superficially interested in things? Or am I interested in too many things? I love music, but I couldn't go into it in depth like many can, I don't know details about bands, even the ones I like, and I often can't remember the titles of songs never mind their hidden meanings. I love to play, and understand musical notations, but couldn't sit and discuss them with you or how they could be improved upon to make a particular piece sound better.
I love writing, and reading, but don't always know what a "homophone" or an "oronym" is until I look it up.
I am interested in home schooling and know the law regarding it and how it would benefit my eldest child, particularly through secondary, but haven't seen all of the lectures on youtube or read all of the research papers on the subject, and I don't know what the latest buzzwords mean.
I never seem to have time to catch-up with friends, hurried text messages here and there, but I do still care about them. There are some I have grown apart from, but others I keep trying to organise meet-ups and then it falls by the wayside, does that mean neither of us are making enough effort, or just that we are both busy, do I worry too much about this? I have one friend who lives in London, I see her maybe twice a year if that, and talk on facebook, but I definitely count her as one of my closest friends, so maybe I need to stop factoring in that my other close friends live nearer and regard them the same way - we talk when we can, we see each other when we can, and we still deeply care about each other and would always be there if needed.
I see things I would like to do, learn to knit, crochet, make my own wedding invitations, make scrapbooks from our boxes of "photos and things saved as have memories attached to them", japanese number puzzles, cross-stitch.............but I never do any of them, or I start and then leave them unfinished. Does this make me flaky, or just busy, or just forgetful of giving myself time for me?
I want to tone up my stomach and legs, but I do exercise a couple of times and then let it fall by the wayside again, as an un-necessary extra.
I wonder if I am one of those people that others say is all talk and no do. But it's not that I want to be all talk and no do, it's just that I don't have the time?? Do I need to make the time? Is it that many other people just have one or two interests and I have too many and can only dip into each one at a shallow level?
I get things, and care about them and get immensely caught up and passionate about them, such as bullying at school (especially secondary school). But what do I do about them? I think in my head about how it could be tackled, things schools could do, things the police and government could do. Then I think of the feasibility, the age of the perpetrators, the parents of the perpetrators, the fact that people change and if a child has a record at 14 does that label them for life, but if they get it expunged at 18 then do they see it as not mattering so they might as well carry on with their violence and intimidation of others? Does a 14 year old know better, is it their parents fault, is it fair to prosecute parents instead of the child, can there BE a blanket rule for this or is it another one of the "too complicated to legislate and would cost too much as each case is different so we'll just sweep it under the rug and pretend it's not happening" situations, that seem all too frequent these days.
I see people getting passionate about terms and conditions on websites, liability for copyright material used, and I think why am I not bothered? Why do I just see it as "that's life, use it or don't". Should I be bothered? Am I naive? I don't see it as naive, I do know of the issues, I just don't see they are going to change and usually are interpreted sensibly, so perhaps I put too much trust in the fairness of the justice system - even though I know it is flawed, so really I am a complete walking contradiction?

Is everybody like this? Do we ever truly become "grown-ups" and really figure things out. I think I know what matters these days, but just find it impossible to fit it all in, and impossible to think "well I will just concentrate on ONE interest and ONE thing to be passionately campaigning about and ONE thing to try and improve in my own life", because it just doesn't work like that for me?

I'm not really sure, that there is an answer. All I know is that I am not superficial, I do care really about everything I talk about, and if people think I don't, they don't really know me. I get upset when people make presumptions, judge situations without knowing both sides. I allowed myself to get upset the other day about my ex making it out to his friends I am a control freak, when from my point of view, I am trying to regain control of my life from how it used to be when I was with him. Does that make me a control freak or does it merely make me normal, wanting my own life to be my own life? Does me not wanting him to call the shots mean I want to be in control, does that make me the control freak now? It hardly seems fair. But really, why do I worry what he is saying to his friends, and what they think of me, when they are not my friends? I think it's because I try so hard NOT to say things like that, that I make excuses for him, be understanding and considerate of why he might be acting a certain way, yes sometimes I do rant and get annoyed, I think that's normal, and especially when I find out he has said things about me that aren't true. But on the whole I really do try hard to make sure people don't think bad of him, that the children don't think bad of him, and I guess I find it bloody unfair that he doesn't do the same for me and then I find it hard to carry on doing it, being the bigger person and all that.
But really, I just need to be grateful and happy and think of the positives. I am happily engaged to somebody I truly can see myself being with forever, I have a nice place to live, the children are happy and progressing well (in my opinion :P), they have a good dad who sees them regularly, I have lots of family and friends and am in relatively good health. I need to forget about the people who don't know me and judge me (or who even know me yet judge me), and just feel sad that they don't have a happy fulfilled enough life to not need to focus on other people's shortcomings.

I think it's time for the ten things that are good about my life list again people, make us all feel good :D Do your own list, throw away the negatives and just think of the positives
1. I have two children who are amazing and beautiful and kind and just awesome
2. I have found a partner that I truly fit with and who my children love
2. I live within reach of a city, and countryside, a canal, river, parks, farms all within walking or short public transport distance
3. I get good, free, healthcare and relatively cheap eye and dental care
4. My children have access to education and by law are also allowed to be educated at home if I wish
5. I live near a library, greengrocers, butchers, supermarkets, many different restaurants and cafes
6. I am allowed to attend the religious service of my choice and freely talk about the religion of my choice without fear of arrest
7. When needed, I am able to get financial help from my government to help me live, although this seems to be under threat at the moment I hope pressure from the public and many charities will ensure as a country we continue to provide for those who need it and ensure people do not continue to slip below the poverty line
8. I am allowed to campaign and speak my mind about subjects that concern me, and pressure the government to change things, and vote for changes, without fear of arrest
9. I am in relatively good health
10. I have a nice house to live in, with all the necessary furniture and electrical appliances and a garden for the children to play in with a shed and toys to play with

It doesn't matter if other people think I am superficial in my thoughts, I know what I care about and what I know about and the time I have to be involved in it. I do need to try and make some time for myself, but I also need to stop worrying how it comes across to other people.

I like this song. I know, there are some areas in my life, where I could have made different choices. But I am loathe to say better, because the choices I made have brought me where I am today, and I'm not sure today could be any better. I like to not have regrets, to think that everything was part of the end result. I attend church again now, and sometimes I feel uncomfortable, that I should feel ashamed or sorry for things in my past, but I refuse to, and then I wonder if that means I shouldn't be going? I have always had principles, and they may not fit in with the ones that other people think I should be living by but I also don't think they were bad. I never had sex with anybody I didn't deeply care about at the time. I did use drink as a way to get away from myself at times, but when I felt I needed to, and it worked, and enabled me to put my problems away for a while and be me, and then feel more able to tackle them again in a couple of days. I always tried to think of others, sometimes too much, and pretty much everything I did felt right for me AT THE TIME. I won't feel ashamed, or wrong, or bad, because I didn't do things knowingly wrong to hurt others or with a bad intent in mind. And the thing is, the things I have said, others may think "well I have, does that make me bad?". No, it doesn't, if those are your choices, the fact is I made mine and others made theirs and nobody can judge one another's. Just because I felt it was important not to do something, doesn't mean somebody else did, so I would never force my opinions on to somebody else's life. Does this mean I shouldn't attend church? Sometimes I think that, but mostly I just keep quiet when people talk about these things, or walk away, because I refuse to allow somebody to make me feel judged when they don't know the truth. I think of it as "their issue", and not mine, and as the way they chose to live their life, and it would be wrong of me to tell them they are wrong, the same as it would be for them to tell me, so I just choose to not have those conversations. I don't know if this is a cop out, but it keeps me sane.

And sanity, is all we can hope for.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

To each their own, to each their life, what brings one peace, brings another strife

So, I searched for a poem or quote about judgement, thinking there would be many. And surprisingly there really isn't. I found this poem, and I like it, I have ensured to copy and paste in completeness and with a link to it's author, as I have put this on my blog because I like the sentiment, and for others to go and read her work, not to try and plagiarise it. Please click on her name and read her other poems, and again let me repeat this poem is not by me, nor do I personally know the writer.

Who Are You To Judge Me?

by Ashley

Who are you to judge me,
Based on the way I look,
Do you always judge a story,
By the cover of the book?

Who are you to judge me,
By the way I dress and what I wear?
Who are you to judge me,
By the way I wear my hair?

Who are you to judge me,
By the things you imagine I do?
When you don't bother to figure out for sure,
What exactly is or isn't true...

That's my point,
You're no one at all,
You judge me for one reason,
So you can feel tall...

You judge me because you want to,
And because it makes you feel better inside,
Because my imperfections aren't yours,
But your flaws won't always hide...

I'm my own judge,
And you're your own too,
So judge yourself,
And the things that you do...

Because I'm tired of being judged,
By people who think they know me,
Who refuse to judge themselves,
Because they aren't as perfect as they could be... 

It makes me sad, as a parent, that I am almost shoved as an unwilling competitor into a world where one wrong move can mean you are scorned by others. Where mothers feel the need to justify whether they work or do not work, instead of simply being able to say "I am doing the best I can for my child and family at this moment in time", and being proud of that. Nobody can judge another person, nobody can say that they are wrong for working, that their children are being raised by others (what utter rubbish, I have worked in nurseries and can assure you I raised no children there apart from my own that came with me for a little while!). And when I studied and then worked, my children were definitely raised by me, they were cared for WELL by their child-carers, but they were raised by me. However, nobody can say either that children who have a parent staying at home do not then have a work ethic, also utter rubbish, I currently stay at home and my children know that when possible, people need a job to earn a living and pay taxes in to pay for the running of the country, and also to help people, and themselves if they need it in the future. I hope to raise my children, as do the majority of parents I assume, to be open-minded, honest, caring, understanding, non-judgemental and hard-working, however they choose to apply that to their individual circumstances in the future.

I just feel sad, that when there are so many positives that could bring people together, instead the negatives always come out to play. Did you breastfeed? How long for? What formula do you use? Do you use cloth nappies? What brand of disposables do you use? When did you wean? How did you wean? What pram do you use? What carrier do you use? Are you going back to work? Are you leaving your baby with a childminder? Are you putting your toddler in a private day nursery? Haven't you seen the news about *those* places? Are you staying at home? Don't you want your children to have the latest things or have a work ethic? When are you getting rid of dummies? What about their teeth? Are they allowed chocolate or sweets? When are you going to make them walk instead of being lazy in the pram? When did they learn to read? When did they walk? Do you have stair gates? Do you have a fireguard? She's run away to play on the grass, aren't you going to stop her? Aren't you going to let her run away to play on the grass?Are you sending them to nursery school? What do you mean, home education, is that not illegal? Why do you make them go to church? Why do you not make them go to church? Do you make yours do their homework? Do you do practise SATs? Are you going to get a maths tutor? Do they go to clubs, do they have *socialisation*?

I know my children. Parents know their children better than anybody else in the world. Just CHILL THE HECK OUT!!!

I like to chat with my friends, about how I've done things, and pass on advice if they ask. But that doesn't mean they have to follow it, or that I will scorn them if they don't. It's their choice, because their children are not mine, I don't live and breath them every day like they do, and I can not possibly know what is right for them. Heck, I struggle to know what is right for my own children half of the time. And in a world where parents are questioned at every turn, this is not something many will admit. It is time that us real mothers took the stand and said:

"Hey, do you know what? I do a bit of this, and a bit of that, and the stuff that doesn't work I lose and the stuff that does I keep. And sometimes it changes and I have to try the old stuff again, and find some new stuff. And sometimes I mess up and have to say sorry, I messed up. When I was a kid, I thought one day I would grow up, but now I've figured out that nobody ever does, we just spend our whole lives figuring stuff out, and it would be a whole lot easier if we were all honest with each other about that."

We should feel privileged that we are able to make these choices about how we bring up our children, or at least more of them are choices than they are for many other people in the world. I am not perfect, I am guilty of judging others too. I try not to, but am human and so fail. I am not ashamed to admit that. However, from now on, I am going to try harder. I am going to try the Complaint-Free approach to life, with a slight adaptation to fit my own life, cos, well, it's my life :P I am going to wear a hair band on my wrist, and everytime I judge somebody, or complain in a negative manner (I feel there are positive ways to complain, some matters do need bringing up, but can be done so in a positive *let's change this* kind of a way), I am going to swap it to the other wrist, and see how long it takes me to keep it on one wrist for a whole day. And then a week. And who knows what the future holds?????

I am sure I will fail many times, but it's not about the end result, it's about the journey.