untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s anonymous contribution to my Untold Stories series is an incredibly brave and incredibly sad story about a woman trying to live with Generalised Anxiety Disorder through lockdown, and how that is impacting on her relationship with her husband and her children. I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that people are talking more and more about the impact of the coronavirus on mental health and I’m sure today’s storyteller can’t be alone in finding herself struggling to cope with this new way of living. If you have any words of comfort or reassurance, or are experiencing any similar, please do leave a comment, I know it would be hugely appreciated. If you have your own story you’d like to share, please get in touch.

By Anon.

I am THAT person

This pandemic. This coronavirus. This new way of existing. It’s terrifying, it’s depressing, it’s beyond our control.

I’m pretty sure mine is not the only household that’s reeling under the pressure cooker atmosphere of lockdown. Many are struggling to contain their kids or not particularly enjoying their partners working from home. It’s absolutely not a way of life that any of us are used to, nor do many of us like it.

But I wonder how many people have discovered that they themselves are actually impossible to live with. This is a sickening realisation that I’ve had to come to terms with. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). To explain: this does not mean I “worry”. It means that I spend my entire day in “fight or flight” mode. It’s a constant, exhausting, terrible fear. It’s a permanent attempt at holding it together, pushing down the urge to shriek with panic, persistently trying not to cry. It’s constantly seeking reassurance, constantly asking questions. It’s trusting no one. It’s catastrophising every single thing, until the world seems to be a terrible place not worth living in. It’s such a burdensome load to carry, that it seeps into my veins and poisons my blood with a depression that never lifts. View Post

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untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s anonymous contribution to Untold Stories is, sadly, not an uncommon one. It’s all about that time after a birth of a baby when you’re meant to be living as a happy family and yet somehow it doesn’t always work like that. It’s a massively tough time for even the strongest of relationships and if there are any cracks at all, it’s now that they can begin to show. If you’ve had a similar experience and have come out the other side I would love you to leave an encouraging comment. Or maybe you came out the other side and it didn’t look exactly how you thought it would look? Please do leave a comment and share your story. (Names have been changed.)

….

Anonymous

Hate feels like a strong word but I don’t honestly know how else to describe it. What is it called when you lie in bed next to someone while they sleep and all you can feel towards them is resentment and bitterness?

I haven’t always felt like this about my husband. We met when we were 24 and married five years later. For all that time we were perfectly happy. Okay, so not perfectly, but we were a normal amount of happy. We both had jobs we loved, friends with whom we did all the things that twenty somethings are meant to do – boozy brunches, Sunday lunches, all of that. At weekends we sometimes lay in, sometimes we went away. We had disposable income. We were tired sometimes, but the kind of tiredness that comes from fun nights out and work projects that you feel passionately about. It was the sort of tired that you don’t mind because you know there will be chance to catch up at the weekend. It didn’t seem to matter who put out the bin as long as it happened at some point.

Then when I was 32 we had a baby. I’ve always wanted a family, we both have. We were excited about it. We went to all of the classes, did all the research. We felt ready. It turns out I was really not ready. View Post

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different parenting styles

When it comes to parenting, how much are you influenced by your own parents? Maybe you had a happy childhood that you long to replicate with your own family or perhaps, like today’s anonymous contributor, the opposite is true. This anonymous post looks at one parent’s relationship with her own mother and how this is impacted on not only her own parenting style but on her whole life.

By anon.

My childhood was not a happy one. I’m not talking anything major, like abuse or poverty, but when I was growing up and when I look back now as an adult, it wasn’t enjoyable. My memories are not golden. There were no holidays in the sun or opening a bounty of much desired Christmas presents. Instead I remember feeling that I was second best, not a priority, someone who was in the way, an inconvenience.

I left home as soon as I could, and vowed that I would do everything I could to not let my children feel the way I did. They would grow up knowing that they were the most important thing in my life and were loved unconditionally, whatever path they took.

My mum has a hobby which takes up a lot of her time on a daily basis – horses. It’s not just about time at the weekends but a full on, sometimes twice a day hobby. My mum worked part time, not to fit in the school runs, but to spend time with the horses. I would be shipped off to the childminder every day, and inevitably picked up late. Some days it was OK, the childminder had two children of her own that I could play with, but as we grew older, we all grew apart. I felt like a spare part in their home, someone who had to be tolerated for the income I generated. View Post

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different parenting styles

A couple of weeks ago I published a post on Untold Stories from a mum who felt that having kids hadn’t been worth it. A lot of people left comments, (thank you!), and quite a few people messaged me directly to tell me how the post had affected them or resonated with their own story. Below is a copy of one of these emails.

There’s something about this story that really connected with me – that conflict between wanting to be everything for your older children and at the same time feeling powerless. I feel this a lot as a parent, especially with Belle as she doesn’t have a relationship with her father. I can often feel like I’m trying to be both this woman and her husband at the same time – good cop and bad cop – only I’m not sure what either cop is really meant to do.

This woman has the same sense of unfulfilled potential as the writer of the original post, but it’s something more too, something that feels like it’s tearing her in two different directions, leaving her broken in the middle. It was hard to read as the sadness is palpable, but I’m sure they’re not uncommon feelings. What I found especially sad was the idea that the very worst thing that could happen to her daughter was for her life to turn out just like her own.

Get in touch if you have any thoughts on this or other Untold Stories or if you have your own story you’d like to share about any aspect of parenting.

……

I just read the Untold Story about whether having children is worth it and it really resonated with me. I’ve also been a stay-at-home mum for twenty years and I am in the very same mental place as whoever wrote this Untold Story.

Lately, I find myself lying in bed, unable to sleep, wondering what my life would have been like had I not had my children. I have two – 20 and soon-to-be 18. Girls. My 20 year old has moved into a flat for her third year at uni, with her long-time boyfriend. My youngest daughter has got into the the uni of her choice and will be up and away by September.

The hardest part of parenting this age is that they still need you, but they want their independence. My eldest is struggling with her course, won’t let me help and often threatens to drop out. I’m utterly drained of trying to support an ‘adult child’ who wants to load everything on me, but doesn’t really want my advice. And now that she has moved out, she can easily ignore my calls or texts. My youngest is headstrong and desperate to leave the backwater where we live but I know I’ll still be needed in that begrudging way an older teen depends on.

I haven’t worked in 20 years. I have a good degree in history with honours, which has proven to be utterly useless to me. I spend every waking minute trying to make my husband and children happy, yet I feel totally unfulfilled, useless and that I have also squandered all of my potential. My husband takes a far more pragmatic approach to parenting our girls now – let them make their own mistakes and we’re there for them when the shit hits the fan. But I can see a car crash coming to my eldest if she doesn’t pull it together and try harder, because I can’t bear for her to either drop out or leave with a degree that’s of no use to her.

Because then she’ll have a life like mine – lost, unfulfilled and emotionally spent. View Post

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different parenting styles

After last week’s very emotional story from the mum who doesn’t think having her kids was worth it, I thought it might be good to tackle a more practical parenting issue in Untold Stories this week – one of internet safety. This post, written for me by John at Dad Blog UK, looks not at how we as parents protect our kids at home, but how we manage online safety in the face of other parents, parents who don’t seem to care as much about keeping their children safe from harm. It’s an interesting angle on a much talked about topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. (John was happy to have his name to this one, but if you’d like to contribute a story to this series then you’re welcome to stay anonymous.)

……

Is there an aspect of parenting I find ‘really difficult’? This was the question posed to me by Jo, the author behind Slummy Single Mummy and a blogger I have long admired, not forgetting she’s also a published author. [Flattery will get you everywhere John.]

Well, where do I start with this?

Finding a way to get my kids to eat with exemplary table manners? Dealing with friendship disputes? Stressing about secondary school applications? The list is endless. I worry about my kids all the time, but one issue has cropped up repeatedly and it’s cropping up more and more as my kids get older. The issue I am talking about is online safety and digital resilience. Having rules in our own house is easy. These are straightforward to put in place and keep on top of. It’s having to deal with the rules and standards that other families follow that presents a plethora of issues.

I am going to come out and say it; time and again I have found families not even following the most basic online safety rules. Unfortunately, many mums and dads don’t appreciate the impact this has on other children and the wider community. I struggle with this, I mean really, really struggle with it. Just when I think I have seen it all, I learn of another acquaintance whose child has had a nasty experience online and one that, more often than not, could have been avoided if they’d followed some basic online safety rules.

This is a sensitive subject within our household. A little while ago one of our kids was on the receiving end of some online bullying. When I looked into what was going on, I was horrified at what I discovered parents were letting their kids do online. There’s a particular social media platform (I won’t mention it’s name) that has a suggested user age of 13. I found that many of my child’s friends used this app and often with their parents’ blessing, despite being several years too young.

My child was introduced to a girl, we’ll call her Miranda, at the local athletics club. Miranda had a full, public profile and thousands of followers. At the age of nine, she’d regularly post content of herself with a full face of make-up and wearing short skirts. My child thought this was amazing and that she had a really cool friend. Alas, it transpired Miranda had been self-harming. View Post

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having children wasn't worth it

I absolutely love today’s anonymous contribution to Untold Stories. It’s told with such honesty and candour. ‘It feels so miserable though,’ the contributor said to me, ‘do you want me to make it funnier?’ A few people have asked me this already, as though they’re letting me down, but that’s the point of Untold Stories. Sometimes life doesn’t feel very funny, but we go about our days doing all the things we know we’re meant to do and telling everyone that everything’s fine. And probably it is fine, mostly, and sometimes it’s just enough to know that other people are miserable too. You can read more Untold Stories here.

Written by anon

We’ve all heard it said to the new mother, exhausted from sleepless nights, a traumatised body and feeding, feeding, feeding: “Oh, but it’s all worth it!”

After twenty years of parenting, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the biggest lie of all. But worst of all, it is the lie that we cannot speak out loud because the very people who we have created: our beloved children who we worship and live and breathe for, might overhear. And the biggest terror of all is that they might know that if you had your choices again, you might choose differently. You might not choose them.

Every school report described me as ‘full of potential’. After two decades of parenting, I feel I have squandered it all. It is a source of both shame and regret.

My best friend was childless by choice, but often gives my life sidelong glances of envy. Look at the lovely children, gathered around the table, laughing gaily: a real-life Ladybird book of The Family! But she looks mainly by social media, because I am too exhausted to visit her in London, too scared of the tasks piling up in my absence, too lacking in confidence around her highly-paid and highly-made-up friends to join in the way I used to. View Post

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is my child fat?

Following my post about my new Untold Stories feature I’ve already had several people send me their stories, which I’m really thrilled about. It means a lot to have you trust me with your thoughts so thank you! If you have a story or a concern of your own to share then do get in touch. 

Today’s story is on a really interesting subject – that of children and weight. It can be a really tough one to talk about because there’s such an anti-diet movement at the moment, which is fantastic in a lot of ways, but there’s also a fine line between embracing your body as it is and still understanding the importance of eating good foods and treating your body well. With children it’s especially hard because eating habits and the stories we tell ourselves about food embed themselves from such a young age. 

If you have any thoughts on the subject please do leave a comment, or share the post. I’d really appreciate any support you can show for this new regular feature.

……..

Firstly, to be clear, I have no idea how much my children actually weigh or what their BMI is. I just know that since my husband and I separated, they’ve both gradually got a little plumper, to the point that I am now bothered by it. To complicate my concerns, when I raised the issue with my ex, hoping to create some joint rules and strategies about junk food, snacks etc, he responded that in his opinion, the children don’t look overweight, they look happy.

A bit of context – I’ve always struggled with my weight, and so has their dad. As a clever but overweight child, I was bullied and felt different and unhappy. As an adult I lost a significant amount of weight after the birth of my first child. I’m not currently completely happy with my weight but I am more accepting of my body than I have ever been. Knowing that this issue is triggering for me, I consulted a counsellor. At the heart of it, as much as I do worry about my children’s short term and future health, I don’t want them to feel unattractive and uncomfortable as I did for many years. And I don’t want people to look at my children and judge me as a mother.

It really bothers me that I can see rolls of fat on my children’s stomachs, but I also don’t want to give them a complex about their appearance, I want them to be body positive. The older one is starting puberty and someone else mentioned she had a bit of puppy fat. It’s very hard when she complains about her stomach area to know what to say. She needs to understand that there is a correlation between what she eats and the health of her body, so I’ve told her that healthy choices of food will help keep her body a healthy shape, and that planking exercises will strengthen her core, but haven’t made any changes to the way I feed her. She gave up sweets for new year, which I was slightly concerned about, but didn’t discourage. View Post

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So far this year I’ve been quite good at having ideas and less good at doing anything about them. I could make some excuse about Christmas and mince pies and things like that but I felt the same this time last month, so it must just be me. I can’t blame Elizabeth Shaw and her mints.

(Question: Is Elizabeth Shaw actually a person? Did she invent the chocolate mint?)

Last week I told you about my new brunch club idea, and actually I have been busy with that one. I’ve eaten a LOT of brunch this week, I’ve just not quite got round to writing about it. Baby steps though right?

The other idea I’ve been sitting on for a while is about the stories that we tell online and, more importantly, those that we don’t. Increasingly over the last couple of years I’ve felt that I’ve not been able to talk about the things in my life that take up most of the space in my head, and I think that feeling of lacking authenticity and connection with you has contributed to the midlife unravelling, the idea of not quite being able to give a true version of myself.

I wrote about the feeling a little while ago, of telling the truth but not the whole truth, and it got me thinking about what I could do about it. It’s not just that I want to be able to share my own stuff, it’s also that I genuinely think there is a gap in the support available online. I know this sounds crazy – how can there be NOT ENOUGH information online? – but when I’ve found myself struggling, in bad relationships maybe or with things going on with teenagers, Googling desperately for stories of people in similar situations, they’ve not always been easy to find. I don’t want facts, I want feelings. I want to know it’s not just me going through something, feeling a certain way.

As a writer in a public space there is always a balance between sharing enough to connect with people and keeping enough private that you respect other people’s privacy. Talking to other parents and parent bloggers recently I’ve found that it’s not just me that finds this hard.

What I’ve decided to do then is create a space for people to anonymously share their stories – the sort of stories that we normally keep to ourselves but that shape our lives.

Untold stories. View Post

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