I am the Wicked Witch of the North
My daughter hates me, and I'm the worst parent in the world.
(my husband isn't too keen on me either. Last night he said that I've been 'acting like a complete arse-hole all month'. 'Could you be a bit more specific?' I asked, after all I had just given him a detailed litany of everything he's done wrong for the last month; he wasn't giving me much to work with. There was no reply, he'd already stomped off to bed.)
This situation obviously warrants further investigation. Both my daughter and my husband are angry with me. Are these things connected? Is it me?
When I think back over the last month, I can't deny that there have been times when I have mislaid both my rose-tinted spectacles, and my sense of humour. I'm not sure where I left them but it was possibly in my wine glass which I didn't pick up for most of the month. 'Dry January', although a wonderful month in many ways, was a very serious month. I started a new job, worked in the evenings on my blog and my IT skills, and drove everywhere. My world shrank to the small confines of my new office and my new car, my horizon extended no further than the top of the computer screen which I peered over occasionally, to see my daughter's scowling face.
At 11 years old, she is already on page 375 of the Teenage Terror Handbook (she always was a fast reader). She's already read about teenage eating disorders and occasionally decides to have one, usually when she doesn't like what's being offered for dinner.
'I'm not having any,' she says 'I'll just starve myself,' although judging by the stash of crisps and chocolate under her bed, that might take a while.
Sometimes I find all of this mildly amusing, and I say in a very jolly fashion
'You can't be up to there in the teenage manual already, surely! We are not supposed to get to that until you are 13!' and she will disappear, getting the message that Mum is fully in control of the situation and not losing her temper (also, possibly, that she can refuse to eat dinner once she gets to 13, but I'm going to have to worry about that later).
On days like this she will reappear for dinner later and eat without saying a word more on the subject. Homework and bedtimes can be dealt with in a similar light-hearted fashion, and I congratulate myself on how easily I am holding down a job and Parenting without stress or shouting.
Until we get to Day 23 of Dry January, and my precious Rose Bud has reached page 116 in the Teenage Manual by 6pm, bombarding me as soon as I walk through the door with 'I need an i-phone because my friend just got one, and I'm not having any dinner, and no I'm not doing any homework, it's got nothing to do with you, and why can't I have an I-phone 5?'
Unable to pour myself a glass of patience, I feel my temper rising, my chest becoming tight with air which suddenly won't come out, my throat aching with the angry words which are finally expelled:
'Why can't you stop acting like this and just do your homework and eat dinner like a normal child!! Why do you keep arguing about everything? I haven't got an i-phone, what makes you think you should have one? You are 11 years old, not 16!'
There are days when she plays my part and lightens up the tension with a joke
'Now calm down, Mum. Just breathe, there you go, breathe in...and breathe out. See? Easy,' and I sigh and smile at her cheek, and the argument doesn't happen. There are other days when she says
'Oh so you're saying I'm not normal now? You're the worst Mum in the world!! I HATE YOU!' and I feel the house shake as her bedroom door slams, and for the next few days she is angry and rude on the rare occasions she comes downstairs.
I take her i-pad away from her because of her rudeness, and now she REALLY hates me, and although I know that I have to stand firm, I still feel guilty because I lost my temper 3 days ago. This is how, on Day 27 of Dry January, I pick my wine glass back up and manage to laugh again, and I feel less alone as I stop shouting at my husband and he stops calling me an arse-hole. Today, as I am writing this, my daughter comes downstairs and stands behind me, wrapping her arms around my neck; tighter and tighter, as she tries to strangle me - no, not really. She has me in a headlock but it's a hug. A clumsy puppy hug. She leans her head on mine and says