Competence

Motherhood is an odd experience: we all go into it without professional training, and all the manuals say different things.  And of course every child is different, so getting it right is often more a matter of luck than anything else.  It's no wonder that motherhood can be a confusing place.  Add special needs into the mix and things get really complicated.

And as many of you know I always intended to be a "working" mum, and despite special needs, I succeeded until the bankers, builders and politicians plunged this country into recession and both my job and my support system vanished.  My job wasn't perfect, there were boring days, difficult people, impossible time-scales, stupid decisions - some of them by me - but the feeling of being competent and doing a good job that was valued and rewarded made up for all that.  I don't think that I ever got promoted in work to my level of incompetence as per the Peter Principle.  No, that has happened on the domestic front instead.  You could say that it's my fault for being greedy and daring to have a third child, knowing that I already had one with complex special needs.



Overseas friends used to comment on how much I was "into" my kids.  Yet I am not that endlessly giving self sacrificing mum who worships her kids and would do things for them 24/7.  The home was never my preferred territory: for most of my career I also had a cleaner (please don't judge me) and a husband who could fix anything.   Since December 2008, I have been trying to manage all the cleaning, fixing, and children stuff myself: like many other lone parents.  And until January 2011, I thought I was doing okay, at least on the parenting front.  Since then I have had hours or even weeks when I thought I had finally found the answer, but I've always been proved wrong.  Recently wine time has been cancelled in case that was affecting my ability to be calm and patient, but even that "drastic" measure doesn't seem to have helped so far.  Just this morning, two important activities have been rejected.  Cue a series of apologetic texts and phone calls.  I don't know what I did wrong: maybe I used the wrong words, picked the wrong time, used the wrong tone, but even if I can work out my mistakes, the goal posts keep changing.  What works today may be wrong tomorrow.

So yes, at home I feel totally incompetent, and it's not a comfortable feeling.  Nor is it good for me to feel like this, nor will it help me to become a better mother.  It can be the first step to sliding back into depression.  The only thing I can think of is to try and celebrate all those moments when I do something that goes right.  I would set up a linky, but the blogging world is a *bit* overcrowded with them right now, so I will just add them to my reasons to be cheerful each week.  Apart from this week, when I offer you the following example:

Rescue


During a recent car journey, I needed to top up the windscreen wash and the top came off the washer bottle container and disappeared into the tangled confusion of a hot engine.  But I managed to rescue it with the help of an umbrella and a mobile phone app!

And even the act of writing that has made me feel better...


What made you feel competent this week?



15 comments:

  1. I am now desperately trying to think of something that made me feel competent - I like your example, and am intrigued by the mobile phone app side of it :)

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  2. The goal posts are being changed on you, that doesn't make you any less competent! That really is not your fault - you are dealing with different needs that are complex at times :)
    The biggest mistake I ever made, and one I would rectify if ever I moved back into the [paid] workforce, is not having a cleaner when I was working outside the home! xx

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    1. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence on the cleaner thing :) xx

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  3. Oh god, I feel -permanently- incompetent in the home. If I could let go of the shame, I would employ a cleaner (not that I'm employing a cleaner, the shame my house is the way it is)

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    1. I actually first got a cleaner about 6 months after Smiley came home from the hospital, by which time the house was probably a health hazard and definitely a cause for shame!

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  4. Ah, Blue Sky, things are not sounding too good your way. I am sorry that you are going through a difficult time. Don't be too harsh on yourself, as I know personally that you are a really fabulous human being and an amazing mother. xx
    P.S. I love my cleaner.... it makes life a lot easier!

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    1. Thank you, you are a wonderful friend, and always put a smile on my face xx

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  5. I feel incompetent at home most of the time, and when I'm on top of everything (which is almost never), I keep wondering how long it will last. I'd love to have a cleaner :-) You might be a bit harsh on yourself, you're allowed to make mistakes. What made me feel competent this week? I managed to sort out childcare for my "chicken pox" homebound child without losing too many annual leave days. In those moments, I feel very lucky to have good friends in this country :-)

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    1. Back up childcare is so important isn't it, glad you managed to sort some out x

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    2. Oh and I don't have my lovely cleaner now, sadly

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  6. I'm late! It stayed with me though, this post. I just wanted to say I always feel, no I know I'm an 'incompetent' mother. I too don't live for my kids, I like wine time, I can tell I'm way more incompetent than you on the skills front! Than everyone probably. I just wanted to say I admire you, I love your writing style and I think you do a fine job all round and I hope you will keep doing it because maybe it helps you and it definitely helps other people. You are beautiful too by the way, seriously pretty. No doubt you are way too hard on yourself. Love and good vibes to you

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    1. Thank you for your kind words and I really don't think that you can possibly be an incompetent mother by everything I've seen xx

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  7. We all feel we are useless at times and it is only normal to remember our mistakes and not celebrate our victories. I do think you situation is compounded by the fact you are doing all of this alone. I think that must be incredibly difficult, not just the logistics, but not having a sounding board to bounce thoughts off, late at night or when you are low. So with that in mind I think you should pat yourself on the back. You are doing an amazing job, and yes fecking things up is par for the course.

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    1. It is often the logistics that seem overwhelming alright...

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