So its 11 am and Ive not long got home with my current youngest. We are wet from the pouring rain and I can literally feel the tension stagnating my muscles and tightening round my forehead. My eldest had a hospital appointment this morning, routine, nothing to worry about. It meant that rather than the usual school run first thing i was getting school stuff ready and then hurrying us into the car amidst the most ridiculous and wintery downpour (its July) to head into the city center to the hospital. I left plenty of time, knowing we would struggle to park once there, still we were in the car for nearly an hour. The kids are moaning, the car windows are steaming up and I’m beginning to slowly unravel. We make it to hospital with minutes to spare and sure enough car park is full. I manage to park on the steepest hill and pray the handbrake doesn’t fail me. I scramble for change for the meter (just enough as long as we’re here an hour tops) and race the children up to the entrance. My youngest falls in a puddle and cry’s for the next 10 minutes. We make it on time for the appointment, just and all is fine, out again within 25 minutes. Back to the rain soaked street and the car, now blocked in beautifully. I warn the children that mummy needs silence to get the car out of this predicament on this steepest of hills. I swear a couple of times as the windows mist up repeatedly harboring my progress but i make it. We can head back to school. Despite my heated words and raised voice this morning I do manage to thank the children for being so great.
I record all this, not least because I’m sure there’s many parents who can relate to this tale of parental stress and misery (all on a Monday morning) but also because it gets me thinking about my mum. And mental health.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that much of my childhood is fraught with memories of mum being angry, shouting, getting stressed with us children. While I do believe that she did this to a greater extent than most parents and that it was a reflection of her mental instability at times of stress even then, I begin to wonder whether it was less of this and more simply the stress of parenting?
Now I’m a parent i get to experience the reality of it all and I think of my mum with 3 of us, within 3 years of each other, Dad working all week and not being part of the morning or evening routine and I think maybe Mum’s behaviors were in part pretty justified. Though I do not threaten my children to be quite with a bread knife in my hand, or rhythmically spit out a pattern of well rehearsed swear words while marching up the stairs to sort a childish squabble I do shout at my children when I get stressed by a situation or their behavior, I can be an angry mum.
I go back to an earlier post Nature or Nurture. There i ask whether personality traits are key to protecting some of us from Mental health issues; a coping mechanism if one can deal well with stress etc. And now I start to think; does personality make such a difference? Actually when faced with the huge enormity that is parenting am i not experiencing and showing stress just like my mother did? Does personality matter as much as i thought it did?