Self Doubt

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

If another mother told me this story I am sure I would say “it’s not your fault” and “it’s just their age” and “you’re doing just fine”. But it’s not another mother, it’s me, and I am struggling.

Miss Rose has for a long time been a star at bedtime, charging up the stairs for “paste and teeth”, climbing into bed to listen to her story, have her milk, and snooze. It was so much of a guarantee that I didn’t worry about it at all, we just got on with it. It’s changed.

Last night was crisis point for me and resulted in me curled in a ball crying into The Boy’s lap, who had come upstairs after hearing the wailing from both of us through the baby monitor, whilst Miss Rose spat, shouted, and thrashed around. She was so angry, and so very upset, and so so tired that the anger and upset just got heightened.

“What am I doing wrong?” I asked The Boy.

In the next bed over was Z, sleeping soundly, who had fallen asleep within ten minutes of Harry Potter being read. Z had always been the bedtime challenge whilst Miss Rose was the easy one we could rely on to settle. Now, for whatever reason, Z will go off to sleep fine whilst Miss Rose is more and more frequently having a nuclear explosion size meltdown, complete with violence.

What am I doing wrong?

The Boy assures me that I am doing nothing wrong but she is a toddler and they go through phases. I know that, and I understand it, and I would say the exact same thing to any other mother. But seeing her in that state breaks me and makes me doubt my abilities as a mother.

Photo credit Counselling

Photo credit Counselling

In the morning, once we are all up having survived the night, the next challenge begins.

In between the squabbling and fighting that accompanies a morning alone with two year old step-siblings comes the challenge of breakfast. This instance is not a challenge for Miss Rose who happily hoovers down most food that is set in front of her, but no matter what I do, no matter what I try, I cannot get Z to eat for me.

This morning I put out two bowls of cereal, Miss Rose tucked into hers, Z pointedly ignored his. I tried a trick I have seen his grandmother use with success and sat him on my lap, and spoon fed some cereal into his mouth which he then spat out in fury. I gave up and, when Miss Rose had scoffed her cereal, I took the bowls away and made toast. I set the toast out, Miss Rose started in on hers whilst Z ignored his. I encouraged him but he howled and ran away. I didn’t force it and Rose soon cottoned on to this and ate his too. Last night she ate his dinner because equally he refused it.

I feel like a failure. I cannot get him to eat. I cannot get Miss Rose to settle calmly anymore.

Some how I have lost all the parenting skills that I so relied on and I am at a loss.

Last night I was so emotionally drained and exhausted from the entire experience that I could barely stay awake and had to go to bed early. Today I find myself profusely apologising for my failed efforts to his grandmother, who, just as The Boy did, assured me no apology was needed and that it isn’t my fault.

But I feel it. I am finding it hard, and admitting that is at times a bigger challenge than actually dealing with the situations with which I am presented.

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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!


8 responses to “Self Doubt

  1. I’m not going to say the obvious, because you already know it. So I will just say that Sophie has been ‘not good’ at bedtimes for…forever, and I keep on keeping on, and occasionally melt down and wail ‘Why?! Why?! What am I doing wrooooong?!?’ into Si’s shoulder when it all gets too much. You are sooooo not alone (which you know), and this too shall pass, and they’ll move onto other ways of making you doubt your skills and sanity…inventive, creative ways that you will look back on fondly eventually as well! 😉 One foot in front of the other hon and eyes to the horizon… ❤ xxx


  2. Completely ditto what Steph has said. But also, well done for putting it out there how you are feeling. You are definitely not failing, but admitting that you feel you might be is a brave thing to do.
    Since I have started admitting more when I am struggling it helps me rationalize things. Admittedly not always, but there are so many people sitting at home feeling the same as you- absolutely NOT failing.
    Onwards and upwards until their next plan to try and destroy you!


    • Absolutely. I know we all go through times when we think we are not going to cope but then we always do. Knowing you’re not alone is reassuring even if it doesn’t solve the actual problem. xx


  3. Molly is a real pain to feed, but only for me and (to a lesser extent) hubby. I feel your pain and frustration, and I know you would tell me I am doing all I can and it’s not my fault, so here I am saying the same to you. Both Molly and Z are still alive, so clearly they can function fine despite not eating from time to time. We will get there in the end! Sending hugs xxx


    • Yep very true. Some kids are big eaters and others aren’t and that’s fine. I’m just a big worrier 🙂


      • Rachel Myers

        I’ve had my fair share of bedtime and eating nightmares with Sam being autistic I’ve found distraction techniques work so Sam eats alone watching TV he eats more without me hovering over him I put all his food into snack pots so he can pick at it as he goes. Sleeping I can’t offer much advice on as I have the same failings but we do what we can to get some peace so we let him have a later bedtime he’s with the iPad then I read ( he’s 7 though ) but it means we have some peace – just keep trying she’ll get back there eventually xxxxxx



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