June Journals #29 ~ Drowning in Doubt


Testing Times

I’m glad this is my penultimate June Journals post. Writing every day has made me self aware again, in a way I had managed to hide from for a while.

When your mind is a war zone, mindfulness isn’t the calm serenity it’s claimed to be.

And I’ve no doubt you’ll be glad to no longer have to endure my parenting existential angst.

Because at the moment I just can’t parent. I don’t know how.

My daughter seems so full of rage and sarcasm and disappointment, I don’t know how to parent it. I don’t know what it is she wants or needs from me.

Yesterday she insisted that 10 + (5×10) = 50. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to gently point out that it wasn’t quite right. When she got angry with me, I was on the verge of tears.

I can’t parent that.

This morning she came in at 6am in a rage because her hair bobble kept falling out when she did handstands against her bedroom wall.

I can’t parent that.

I heard her screaming like a fishwife at her brother and ordering him to do stuff. A knot formed in my stomach and I didn’t want to get out of bed, because I know I will make it worse. I’m frightened of her, of upsetting her or enduring her wrath.

I can’t parent that.

She’s angry at the weather for stopping her doing cartwheels, but the endless cartwheels just leave her frustrated and in tears, either because they don’t go right or because I won’t watch and applaud every single one.

I can’t parent that.

I watched Serena Williams falter in a tennis match against an unranked opponent yesterday because of her doubt and self-recrimination. It’s destructive, and oh so hard to live with. I know, because that’s my daughter.

It’s like walking around on a floor of TNT and not knowing where the trigger is. When I said that to my husband yesterday he smothered a laugh. Because it’s also like living with me.

And that’s the crux of it. I can’t parent her because she is me.

I remember once, when I was a teenager, my mum said, “You’ve inherited all my worst traits.” I was crushed. I took it that there was nothing good in me. Now I see if for what it was: my mother’s own self-doubt and insecurity.

I watch my daughter and see all the things I loathe about myself, stropping and stamping around, making everyone miserable. Needing praise but reacting badly to anything that can be taken as criticism.

I hate it in myself, so how can I parent it in someone else? Never mind the recriminations that it’s all my fault that she’s like that.

And that’s just behaviour. Don’t even get me started on my failings in other areas of stay-at-home-mumdom. Like that husband ran out of clean shirts, or that the kids eat nothing but sugar and fat, or that the house is a steaming pit of disgustingness while I sat and knitted and watched tennis all day yesterday.


This was meant to be a positive set of posts. I was going to put ‘can’t even get that right’ but self-pity is an indulgence.

Anyhoo. Let’s find a positive. I wrote to the council and helped get the roadworks put off to the summer holidays, so I can do the school run without screaming.

It’s not raining yet today, so my son might get to do some of his much-anticipated school trip.

My knee feels better and I can walk this morning.

I have food in the fridge, clothes in the cupboard, and money in my purse.

I have a daughter, a son, a husband, who love me despite my failings.

I am grateful. Truly.

3 thoughts on “June Journals #29 ~ Drowning in Doubt

  1. Everyday I am happy that I got the boy I wanted. I knew if I had a girl the odds of us both surviving her teen years were low. And now girls seem to get the moodiness so much earlier. My deepest sympathies. It is nice to know I am not the only one going through non-parenting phases. Some days it is just impossible to do the best parenting and it is enough to do the least worst parenting. (Does that make sense? Maybe minimal parenting?)

    • There’s a book about it, a counsellor told me once, it’s called Good Enough parenting. I worry sometimes though that it would be easy for me to set my bar pretty low! Mind you, my mum once joked that in her day if the kids were alive at 16 you’d done okay! 🙂

  2. If it helps, I don’t know how to parent either. None of us does, we just do our utmost and hope for the best. So you’re in good company 😉 BTW, would counselling help your daughter, d’you think. Something totally non invasive and relaxed – although it depends is the issue is some kind of mild social anxiety or simple hormones! All the best anyway and well done with the roadworks. I’m hoping that having spoken to them, the council will help make it a bit more obvious that McMini’s school street is two way for bikes, so I get shouted at less often! 😉



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