Fine, fine, I’m fine.

It’s such an alarm bell word isn’t it? Fine.

I’ve been ‘fine’ for some weeks now.

I mean, I’ve been over-joyed about Oscar’s recovery and that his schooling for the next six years being secured. I’ve been thrilled and exhilarated to see Chef move into a job and a workplace he is just loving and thriving in (“I butchered a lamb today!”). I’m stoked that next year two of my children will be at a primary school which prides itself on it’s inclusive culture and joy in learning. I’m relieved and excited that Grover has been offered a place in the 2-day group at our wonderful community kindergarten which has provided the environment that has seen Jasper blossom this year.

But I have been fine. Just fine.

There have been the mild anxiety attacks on first waking in the mornings.
The night sweats.
The chronic diarrhoea. (sorry)
The knuckle dragging sensational of day-in-day-out drudgery.
The erratic mood.
The quick to anger.
The complete lack of energy.
The loss of any motivation to do anything.
An increasing sentiment of simmering resentment.
The constant craving to retreat.
Withdraw.

I have been going through the functional components of my job as mother – the lunch making, the dinner preparation, the teeth-cleaning, bathing, showering, clothes washing, note signing, dropping off and picking up.

But on completion of those tasks my immediate thought and desire is to withdraw to my room.

I liken it to a light-switch – I’m not feeling overwhelmed or isolated or any of those other feelings that have normally presented themselves when I’m ‘fine’. I actually feel quite disassociated from it all. I know I’m doing a great job when I’m ‘doing my job’ but then can almost feel an internal switch shut it off and the shutters come clanging down.

I haven’t been particularly teary. I have been, and this phrase basically encapsulates it perfectly, fucking exhausted. On all levels, in all spheres of my life.

When I sat down with my (most awesome) psychiatrist on Wednesday I had made a decision not to do the whole ‘looking on the positive side/self-analysis’ approach I normally adopt but to just lay it all out for him to make of what he would.

I cried. Which I was really not expecting so in and of itself was quite a physical manifestation of where I was at.

We looked at what is my day to day reality and then the extraordinary events that this year as presented:
– finding a high school for Oscar
– Mum’s hip replacement
– in-laws being away for 7 weeks
– Oscar’s operations and recovery
– Chef changing jobs in a rather stressful thrust-upon-us way

He pointed out that what I had managed in the last three months was probably what many may experience over a five year period and probably not with four children. True.

He pointed out that prior to Oscar’s operation I was slowly building in some activities that were me-time. Crucial, he says, for anyone’s sanity but particularly women and especially mother’s looking after young children or children with special needs. Or both in my case. True.

He pointed out that all of that had been obliterated. True.

He pointed out that when a partner starts a new job it is a huge adjustment for everyone in the family and after an initial period of time you then have to review the homelife component and re-establish some processes that may or may not have been abandoned during that starting phase. True.

So what to do.

I had already just (as in the night before) implemented a strategy with the boys to get them more involved in helping out around the house. I know many of you will be shaking your heads at me and going, dude, you should have done that years ago and yes, yes I should. But life you know, has a funny thing of getting away from me from time to time.

Remember, the last two years constitute the first time I have solely been at home with no work-life balance to manage since Oscar was 14 months old. I have kind of relished feathering my nest so to speak. Yes yes, in doing so made a complete rod for my back but dudes, cut me some martyrdom slack.

So, welcome to the Chore Board boys!
Names are up, tasks are listed, financial reward associated.
Now listen, Chef was dubious about the cash reward scheme but I was all, dude, we’re talking about 12 and 10 year old boys (and indeed 4 and 3 year olds once they got wind of what was going on) nothing is going to motivate them to help more than money. Doing something from the goodness of their heart is not a currency that carries much incentive to that age bracket. This was only confirmed by my psych who pointed out the feeling good by doing something for others really only kicks in around 20 and while you might get glimpses of it earlier than that it is not a natural motivator. Besides, this is about making my life easier, not just creating a new battleground I have to negotiate. I win.

Can I say, and yes, it is only Day 3 of its implementation, but ZOMG what a winner. Pets are being fed, garbage is being taken out, towels are being hung up (talk about easy money!)

The hilarious component of this is the little boys burning desire to be a part of it.

Now don’t worry, I keep reminding about how this is also teaching them about what it takes to run a household and about being part of a team and blah blah blah yeah mum just hand over the cash.

Second component: Team Berry. This is Chef and my new code for surviving the evenings and getting to a nightly nirvana which for me involves limitless time on Twitter and Chef hoping for some Special Cuddles. From when Chef gets home until 8.30pm (when all offspring are in bed) it is Team Berry. There is absolutely no personal time during that period unless you want to experience death by 1,000 cuts. It is all about the family – reading stories, listening to reading, dinner, cleaning up from dinner, tidying up the loungeroom, baths, teeth cleaning and all the rest.

ZOMG2 – last night was the first night of this new regime and MY GOD – what a difference. I had been feeling bad about asking Chef to do anything in the evenings (this of course didn’t stop me asking but still, even that is emotionally loaded) and it was spiraling out of control.

Third component is rebuilding some things into my week and particularly the weekend when I have all four boys all weekend with no relief that are just for me, be they swimming or going for a walk or something.

We’re monitoring my mood for the next two and a half weeks and if if hasn’t markedly improved we’re looking at additional meds, something I would like to avoid.

But dudes, at least now I feel like there is a plan and that is half the battle.

Onward!

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  • peskypixies

    so glad you have a plan hon.

    my girls do LOTS of chores here and it works on a job= money.
    They get paid per job they do.

    works VERY well here.

    hugs

  • •´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´•

    Kim, I really like your plan. It sounds a winner to me.No wonder you feel this way…

    I agree money talks louder than yelling at your kids constantly or wearing yourself down encouraging them to do the right thing for no reward.

    I've learnt a lot from reading your post. Thanks for sharing your struggles and the advice of your psych.

    BTW I'm glad for all the positive things going your way too with Oscar & Grover.

    You know, I can relate to a whole lot of what you have felt …Fine but not the sweats of diarrhoea.
    I hope you get relief soon.

    I really hate being so quick to anger at my 4yr olds when they do minor things I wouldn't normally react as erratically to. Exasperation plus ….but hey they love money now lol (silver coins) so I am going to try it.

    I haven't felt teary either…too exhausted ..you said it too F perfectly.

  • Mrs Woog

    Good Plan! I need to slap myself out of the blues sometimes. Last night I took the to bath with a bottle of wine. Probably not the best thing to do but FUCK i had had a bad day!

  • Mary

    Just letting you know that i am in your corner!

    xxx

  • sooz

    Mmm, I like me a plan.

  • Eleanor

    I'm in your corner with Mary. We're actually wearing our cheerleading outfits and spelling out K-I-M with our arms and shaking our pompoms. And I have a feeling a few others will join us. Consider us your personal fan club. Because we are!

    I'm also intrigued by this ad at the bottom of the screen for an iphone app which helps you remember which side you last breastfed on…left…or right. This new generation of mothers is beginning to freak me out.

  • Suse

    Oh yeah I've got my pom poms and fluffy knickers on too. Give us a K! Give us an I! Give us an M!

  • Jodie

    Twenty ? Really? and all this time I just thought I had raised the most selfish child on the planet…..

    Keep counting down the days ……

  • Duyvken

    Yay! Sounds super love,
    A

  • BabelBabe

    dude, I instituted the chore board at the beginning of the summer. the benefit of cash reward is that I now respond to whining about the treats and vending machines at the pool – "What did you do with your allowance?" and don't feel guilty either way. of course one spends as soon as he gets it and the other hoards, and it's funny to see…I am PMSing into the OHMIGOD poor me I want to DIE phase, so while I am sorry you are going thru this, you are giving me some good ideas. xov word verif is "guniple" I love this.

  • Corrie

    well I don't know how you do it and I know I get annoyed when people say that but at least you admit you're a real person and that is a hell of a lot of stuff to have on your plate!

    go the chore board! wonder when I can start one here

    hope chef gets some Special Cuddles some time soon. poor retro daddy has to go and find an empty bed because I can only manage to get all 3 to sleep together in our bed!!
    Corrie:)

  • Kill

    1. Tell Chef we can organise a "lamb butchering" holiday any time he wants!!
    2. My life is noticably easier when daddy AND mummy both work on the dinner, shower, teeth, bedtime routine. It used to do my head in that a) he didn't help and b) I had to ask for help. So good on you both for this TEAMwork pledge
    3. Happy to hear the kids are chipping in and taking the load off a bit. I must stop being such a harpi to my kids and up the financial rewards.

  • Lara

    Epic post Kim. I just used epic in a sentence. Next I'll be addressing peeps and saying Awesome! Also in your corner. I'm the one in the mascot outfit. Furry animal of your choice, within reason.

  • Paola

    Oh I am SO in that corner with Mary, Eleanor and Suse and you can spot me easily, I'm the one who yells the most, chubby red faced and jumping all around cheering for you ( and I look awful in that cheerleader outfit).

  • tiff(threeringcircus)

    I can so understand all of what you are feeling. I just can't articulate it as well as you and I don't have me a psych…yet.

    I do love plans though.

    Plans are very good.

  • Emma Someone

    Great idea on the team approach. Might have to try that with TheHusband – no personal stuff until dinner is done instead of babe in bed as that varies from 7pm to 10pm some nights.

    And you are teaching your elders something really valuable – about how the real world works. Chef doesn't go to work for fun. He goes to work to be paid. And doing things around the house for $$ is like having a job. The bigger picture is valuable too!