The Camel’s Back

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.

The phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is an old cliche but it’s one that is incredibly accurate for how we behave… or at least how I behave.

When you’re holding it together, keeping afloat, marching on, but the pressure on top of you is slowly building and building, you cope with so many big things that eventually a tiny thing makes you snap.

I’m feeling under a lot of pressure at the minute with being a mum, being a step mum, building a career, looking after a house and maintaining friendships and relationships.  I don’t have time in the day for everything I need to do to keep my life running smoothly, let alone all the stuff I would like to get done.

But I’m coping and keeping moving forward because, like all mums, it’s about keeping going.  One foot in front of the other.

Miss Rose and I have a great relationship and I’ve always felt very secure around her.  When she’s being good we have so much fun together and she’s a great little person to be around, and when she’s naughty I feel confident in how to cope with her.  I know what she needs to calm down from a tantrum, and I know how to make her understand what she’s done wrong in a situation.  She has a brain very like mine in so many ways, though I’m certain she’s destined to be smarter than me, and I know what I’m doing with her.  I feel in control.

I do not feel in control properly anywhere else in my life.  My step son has a totally different brain to mine and I don’t always feel confident in what I’m doing with him, so put a lot of energy into carefully thinking about what I should be doing rather than just acting instinctively like I do with Rose.  My career is fresh and new and requires constant input in areas that are new and scary for me such as podcasting.  My house is a shrine to chaos and no matter what I do I cannot keep on top of it, it would require work all day every day to maintain it to a standard I would like and that would mean abandoning the responsibilities I have everywhere else.

The baby doesn’t leave me with this sense of out of control spiralling that stresses me out, but her need for boobs so frequently that I get even less done adds to the worry.  Right now I am writing this whilst supervising the warring three year olds and breastfeeding the baby.  I haven’t been blogging as often as I should like because it’s just one more thing I’m unable to give the amount of attention to that it deserves!

I’m holding it together.  Most of the time.  One foot in front of the other foot.

But sometimes there’s a straw that breaks me, and that straw is always Miss Rose.

It’s not fair.  It’s not justified.  But as she is the only area in my life I feel completely confident in, she is where I automatically feel safest breaking.

I recently ended up crying my eyes out in the changing rooms at the swimming pool after shouting my head off at her for a minor infraction of not wanting to get out of the shower when she was told to.  She loves the shower, she loves water in general, and likes to stay in there for as long as possible.  I gave her less time than normal because we were in a rush and she objected and said she didn’t want to get out yet and I got mad at her.  She cried, I cried, my mum told me to sit down whilst she sorted out Rose, and then she let me cry on her shoulder whilst Rose cuddled my legs and told me it would be okay and she loves me.  Because she’s lovely like that.

I don’t lose my head at anyone else.  I exercise enormous levels of patience when under the surface I’m bubbling away and somehow not exploding in a toddler like tantrum.

But Miss Rose?  Miss Rose is my safe place.  We are close, we forgive each other for everything and come out of it stronger.  And because I know that, it’s she who my worst self comes out with.  My angry mum, my shouty mum, my emotional mum all comes out on her when I reach my breaking point.

Fortunately it doesn’t happen often.  It happens more often than I would like, but it’s not all the time.

It’s unreasonable when it does happen.  She’s a good girl who sometimes does naughty things.  When she needs a good telling off I’ll give it out, but I don’t want to do it because I’ve cracked and lost a degree of control and I don’t want to do it for things that aren’t worthy of it.  She deserves better.

I know this and I know I need to try harder.  But I also need to accept that I’m human and sometimes things are going to get too much.

We are all carrying a lot on our shoulders.  A lot of weight from pressures of family, home and work.  None of us can manage everything we have to do with ease.  All of us are struggling with at least one aspect of our lives, and in many cases several aspects.  And sometimes it gets too much.  And sometimes we break.

It doesn’t make us bad people and it doesn’t make us bad mums, but we all know we shouldn’t take it out on our kids.  I certainly know that.  I need healthier ways, fairer ways, of dealing with the pressure.

Something to work on.  Something to find.  Because soon it’ll build up and that straw will come again.


4 responses to “The Camel’s Back

  1. Caiden is my safe place. He too is a good boy, but he can be naughty and lately those times of naughtiness seem to be getting harder to deal with. Unlike you, am not confident in disciplining him so it makes it harder.
    I am exhausted and I don’t have as many factors to balance as you do, but when I break, it is always by shouting at him. Does it help? Absolutely not. It makes me feel ten times worse and results in me crying. Unfortunately I don’t have my Mum there to help and reassure me. When I break, it is always when just the two of us.
    Mothering is hard. Life is hard. You captured something that I have been feeling but have not really been able to express.
    Big hugs to you. Miss Rose will forgive and forget, as will Caiden but we won’t, so when you know how to deal with it please blog about it. X


    • I don’t know if I’ll ever know how to deal with it! I hate it when I snap and lose my shit with her I feel awful, but you’re right, they will move on and forget. I’m certain she’s forgotten the last time already whereas I certainly haven’t. We’ll get through it Jodie, we just have to grit our teeth sometimes and remember that it’s okay to not ALWAYS be super mum x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It was wonderful to finally meet you in person when you visited the Boy’s work with your precious BB. Thank you so much for your lovely stories and insightful writings. They make me sit and think back over the years of rearing my own son. He is now a 21 year old man, away at University living his own life, not too worried about what’s going on with me anymore. I miss him dreadfully but am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I have done the best I could when raising him. I didn’t have family living near me at all so was saved from all the well meaning advise. Everything I did was pretty much guess work but he turned out OK so all in all I think I’ve won.
    Please don’t judge yourself so harshly. Miss Rose loves you more than anything else in this world and that’s all that matters. Your housework will still be there next week but one day Miss Rose and BB will be all grown up and worrying about their own lives and you will be left to your own devices again. Enjoy every minute with them, good and not so good. Their young lives are so precious and you are their greatest influence. Be proud, I know they will be. xxx

    Liked by 1 person


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