by Lori Dwyer on April 3, 2012 · 15 comments

Last week, I missed my children.

I know that for some of you, that translated into “Blah, blah, blah…” Parents miss their children, that’s the way it’s meant to be. It’s quite likely a biological thing… if you didn’t miss them, you may just leave and never come back. You don’t miss them immediately, and most mums and dads I know thoroughly enjoy their time off… but not being with them pangs your heart, just a little, when you think of what they might be doing right now.

I think that’s the way it works, anyway. I vaguely remember it working that way. But that was in the Before.

Now, in the After, things are… different. read this with the knowledge that I know- I know how I would have felt, reading this as Before-Lori. Understanding and empathetic, but with the slightest hint of distaste and disbelief. It’s an ugly truth. But the love I feel for my children now is buried beneath my ability to cope. I love them, most definitely, that is a fact. I would die for them, throw myself in front of a moving car for them, give them whatever they needed to be nourished to live.

But that deep intensity, that pang of adoration that I think most parents still get, it’s no longer the driving factor in my parenting. It’s still there, that passion for them, it’s just sealed, protected, iced over and stored in the bottom chambers of my soul. I love my kids fiercely… but it’s driven more by that biological urge than the overwhelming love for their tiny selves that emerged with them, screaming it’s way into the world as they were born.

I am a good mum, still, I know I am, most of the time, and it’s the “most of the time” that’s important. My shrink tells me, when it comes to parenting, optimum is near impossible. No one is the perfect parent, it just isn’t a logistically workable concept.

When it comes to parenting, ‘good enough’ really is good enough. Psychologists have even put a number on it- 70 percent. If you are a good parent for at least seventy percent of the time, then your kids are going to be fine. It seems ridiculous to put an arbitrary number on something so immeasurable… but it helps.

My shrink tells me it’s OK, ‘normal’, expected to feel the way I do. I still love my children, I still find occasional enjoyment in their company, their activity, their presence… but I feel no joy. That concept, that emotional touchstone, it’s been eroded by grief and trauma and just the too-muchness of it all.

I love my kids, I live for them, I parent them as best I can. I’m not naive enough to think that they don’t know, somewhere in the part of their mind that is far too adult for them to access yet, the fact that that joy is no longer the unquenchable continual commodity it once was. But I know they feel it when it does exist, infrequently but often enough to reassure me that that warmth I once had is, slowly, thawing. Slowly.

And this weekend, I missed them. I couldn’t wait to be with them, just sloth with them and play with, relish every tiny laugh, every hug, every hair and tiny fingernail, to immerse myself in their company for the day.

And,of course, they acted like absolute little ferals; screaming, fighting, and just generally being revolting. In reverence to the rarity of missing them, I ignored most of it and coped with anything really irritating with good grace and patience for as long as I absolutely could… only to yell at them just on bathtime.

Two minutes after I’ve done my “Right, you two!! I’ve had eee-nuff!!!” act, the Chop and the Bump have forgotten it’s happened, and returned to smacking each other with soft toys. They are bathed, dressed, read to, kissed goodnight; and that awful mum-guilt follows me from room to room as I tuck them in, warm and safe.

That guilt, over losing my temper and yelling at them, watching their eyes, big and blue like mine, suddenly drop a shutter of hurt in themselves.. it haunts me as I tidy the house, settle it into darkness. I steal into their rooms, pausing as they stir, to kiss them on their soft, velvety foreheads and whisper “I love you, so, so much”.

The ritual of it alleviates, just by a tiny bit, that lingering sense of how I really should have done better. 

And that’s freaking awesome.

Do you know the gravity of that, do you know what that means…? I missed my kids. I yelled at them. I crept into their rooms to say sorry and kiss them goodnight. I felt that pang, that passion, some kind of deep emotion for them.

Just the way I used to do. That ice, it’s melting.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen April 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Simply, I love this post.


Eccles April 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Ummm, well…. yeah. I was going to say it as well & hey, you don't know me at all, but, the Wicked Witch did say it all, 'cept that Glowless got in before me . So I'm just gonna say this instead – underneath it all, you're just a big old softie. It's awesome that you're melting just as winter is coming!! I see the irony in it, I hope you do to honey. :) xx


Amanda Hardy April 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Aw, you made me tear up. Happy tears, I am so honoured you share your story with us.


trash April 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I know this. Trust me, your kids really will be fine.


Melissa April 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm

So happy to read this Lori. Progress may be slow – but it's there! Awesome :)
I can relate to how you feel – I've had a very hard time bonding with my children – Sure, I'd take a bullet for them, without a doubt – but I don't *feel* the way I think other mothers feel.
I'm so happy to hear some of your joy is returning.


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow April 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Only because it's you can I quote the Wicked Witch of the West and say "I'm meeeelting, I'm meeeelting" and KNOW you'll laugh and not think I'm a weirdo or making fun xxx


Gina April 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm

that's good to know about the 70%. I think I might be making it to 71%. :)


Melissa Mitchell April 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm

No distaste, no disbelief. I can relate, though the circumstances are different. When I was at my sickest, during my Bipolar diagnosis, I remember trying to explain. "I know I love them. I adore Joel and Alexander and Sam. But it's more intellectual. I *know* it. But I don't always feel it, down in my gut. It's an intellectual knowledge at the moment". I got it back. And when I'm really down again, it hides away for a while.

I remember this one time, I even blogged about it. I had been so numb for so long, towards everyone. And there was a storm and Sammy was frightened. And I held him and comforted him. And for a moment there – I felt it. That deep, desperate love, like a burn through my body. It was painful even. And then it faded. But I"d felt it. I knew I'd felt it and it was a good pain.


Anonymous April 3, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Even now, at 66 years old, your words help me to know I was an OK mum. Thank you so much for your words xxxx


Anonymous April 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I've sensed a change in you. I tried to post a comment on your last post but couldn't find the words. But I do sense something is changing.


Donna April 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Such a beautiful thing to read Lori – the very many layers you have are so understandable.

Also, on a different note, very happy to read the 70% figure as it will make me a little less guilty for not being the perfect parent xx


Sharon @ Funken Wagnel April 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

You are just teaching so many of us what really happens, Lori! I don't think most of us would guess this is what it's like, but I've learned so much from your journey, and I would imagine your words must bring reassurance to others in the same boat.

It's always a case of hearing that frustrating thing: 'it takes time…' but I can see here today that you're starting to see the fruits that time can bear, and that is so powerful.


Wanderlust April 3, 2012 at 10:02 am

I'm glad you're melting, my love. It can be hard to go back to the old normal when pain has become the new normal. It's like your creating a whole new kind of normal, with each day that you're healing. Profound, huh? Sorry, I don't have better words right now. x


Kimmie April 3, 2012 at 9:13 am

Madmother said it so perfectly "A little normal has crept back into your heart my friend, so exciting. xx"




Madmother April 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

I absolutely get what you are saying, and am doing a very unattractive happy dance in my undies, and the man next door chainsawing is wide-eyed in disbelief.

A little normal has crept back into your heart my friend, so exciting. xx


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