Day 20

During dinner this evening, Little told me about something that happened at school:

Little: Hey, you know there was a bunch of guys who tried to pick a fight with me the other day and they won’t back off, so I told my friend to punish them for me but she didn’t. [bottom lip starts trembling]

Otter: Wait, hold on. So, you asked your friend to step in and punish these guys for you? First, I don’t think it’s great that you expect your friend to punish people on your behalf. But before you went to ask her what did you do? Did you tell them to stop?

L: Well, you know…yes, but they won’t stop so I cried.

O: Hey, I have heard you scream stop from the bottom of your lungs whenever I do something you don’t like. Just imagine them with my face and tell them to stop!

L: But what if they don’t speak English?

O: Lucky for you, French people also understand and use the word “stop”.

L: But what if I get in trouble?

O: Get in trouble for yelling stop? Then you explain to the adult what happened. Also, why are you the one who’s worried about getting into trouble? Don’t you think they should be the ones to worry about getting into trouble for bullying? Let’s practice!

[Little and Otter practice fighting back and Little ends up laughing]

Little: Wait, but what if I laugh at them?

Otter: Even better. Stand up for yourself in the face of your bullies, stand up tall and laugh. Show them that they cannot hurt you.

Sometimes I think I should take some the advice I give to my kids and put them into practice in my own life.

It is undeniable, having kids gives one courage.

Image: Suzi Eszterhas

Day 18

Yesterday I went through one of the greyest and darkest moments in my recent memory. It was so bad that I was actually proud of myself for having posted anything at all.

I felt like I lost my fight to win Big before the fight even started. I felt everything was pointless in raising my two stepchildren.

It started when I was sitting on the couch feeling completely devoid of energy. It was Sunday, we had just finished doing the housework and my partner had just finished helping Little with her homework and what should have been a good moment of doing absolutely nothing felt wrong. I remember wishing that I had the energy, even the tiniest bit of desire to do anything at all, but I had none. I remember feeling as if I had suddenly shuttled through time and turned sixty, except I am not. I am thirty something and I am exhausted.

I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I felt completely depleted of the energy that I am meant to have for myself, for my partner and for my kids. What completely broke me was seeing my partner and where there was fire and desire was just “meh”. That realisation hit me hard and saddened me in a way that nothing has ever done.

I love the kids so much but like I wrote in my letter to Big, taking care of someone else’s biological children is difficult and heart-rending in a way that can feel almost insurmountable. To mix metaphors into a grotesque salad, it is like treading water through a dark tunnel with no light at the end of the tunnel in flip-flops.

I want to say that I am hopeful but right now I am just taking it day by day.

Image: The Greyness of Autumn

Day 14

I am on the edge of tears as I am writing this. I can almost cry but I know if I tried nothing would come out.

I feel lost with Big, our eldest kid.

Raising her has been like walking down a deep, long and dark tunnel with no end in sight. I keep walking, obviously, but feeling like I could do this forever and have no idea when it gets better.

She acts out, compares us constantly to her biological mother and her stepfather, makes us feel as if our company during the week that Little is not here is not enough, talks to us only to get help or to complain, and so on…

It feels like I am constantly being judged by some sort of standard that only she knows the ins and outs of and that if I fail, or if my partner fails, or if both of us fail, then we all get punished for it.

Parenthood is a thankless job, especially when we are talking about teens, but I didn’t expect it to be so punishing and exacting. Or maybe I am the one who’s being overdramatic?

I know deep down that she is probably hurting, that we can’t quit on her, that the best we can do is to be constant and that we should keep on trying to talk to her, but I am so very tired.

I am sorry for this short rambling post today. But being this sad has really sapped my creativity for the day. I wish there was more but I am all tapped out.

Checklist for the day:

  • Protein oatmeal with skyr
  • Shredded chicken lettuce and tomato sandwich
  • Soba in hot miso
  • Crispy beef and cauliflower rice