Karolien – There's Life After Kids

#Mauritius - Doing The Expat Thing
When a mother loses her why

When a mother loses her why

When a mother loses her why, the household comes to a standstill. When a mother loses her why, everything screeches to a halt. When a mother loses her why, she needs her village to pull her back up.

Unfortunately those villages are not always available. Especially if you’ve just exchanged a continent for an island. I hear the frustration in your voice, I hear that you cannot understand. Why is this happening. Where have I gone wrong. I hear you, because I too have been there. Numerous times. And the village wasn’t there.

As a young mom of 26 with a toddler of 2 and a baby of a mere 9 days old I was adamant to join hubby in Luderitz in Namibia which was at that time his port of call. Working there meant we only got to see him every three or four months so the move made perfect sense to me. Straight from the hospital into the car, a 14 hour drive later, we arrived in the middle of the night with baby in hand and two cars filled with our earthly belongings. The rest was to follow by boat.

A small one horse town, beautiful in it’s own right but a daunting sight. Set between the desert and the deep blue sea this was my home town for the future to be. Yes, it sounds like a beautiful poem but the reality was very different. It was a dry hot place where the wind would blow the sand for days on end making it look like mist hanging over the town. I visited for years but now this was my home.

At the point we arrived there was only water at night as they were laying new pipes from the desert to the town reservoir. It went on for months. I had my two little ones and hubby was at sea. I was alone. Far from my friends, my family and my home. It was hard.

Moving house is not fun when you have kids. In fact, the trauma effects are said to be way up there with the trauma experienced by death and divorce. Now add not only a new suburb, town or province but a whole different country where things are different and new. A new town in a new country so far out that you cannot just day-trip anywhere on a whim. You have no friends, no village, no tribe. You go it alone. Because you’re a young mom, you’re scared but also proud.

The girl-child started acting out and I couldn’t understand why. But I was alone with the two and with the brother still breastfeeding my attention was so divided with caring for them, caring for the house, shopping and all the little things moms do that I didn’t notice before it was too late. She would do the strangest things to get my attention and it took months for me to cotton on. By that time we’ve had the sinking of the boat to contend with as well and things just sort of escalated.

It took me a very long time to correlate the changes in our lives with the changes in my children. In less than 6 months we had our second baby, packed up our home, moved to Namibia and nearly lost the dad along the way when the boat went down. Which caused an ongoing trauma of its own for years, the effects of which we would only experience much later in life. Ours and the kids. At the time I only saw a toddler acting out, a child of mine not behaving as she should.

A child psychologist explained it to me in the following way. Kids in their own way like to feel in ‘control’ doesn’t matter their age. Whether it is that horrible superhero outfit they are wearing for a third day in a row or the blankie that they take to bed every night. Small things, small control areas. When things change they get anxious. ‘They’ feel like they are losing ‘control’. So they start acting up. Getting ‘control’ back by manipulating you with their behavior because as we all know, negative behavior gets the quickest results. I was young, I was inexperienced, there was no Google or FB or people to turn to at that point so I am ashamed to say not only did the children’s behavior deteriorate but so did mine.

Things got much worse before it became better but eventually it did. We moved three more times during that time as well as dealt with a three year long marine court hearing from hubby’s boating drama so unfortunately we kept adding more fuel to the fire. All that I can say, it is life. We cannot avoid traumas and dramas. We can try as much as we can but between choices and circumstances and life in general we can only but try and buffer it.

We worked through our traumas eventually but as a mother even today I see the effects it had on my children and myself and hubby. We’ve been through the wars and we came out scarred but still a family unit. In Luderitz I eventually found my ‘village’ in a couple of friends. One in particular that is still a big part of our lives.

One of the many lessons I learnt is that kids pick up on our stress. I wanted to move to Luderitz, but it was traumatic, even for me. I wanted to move to each new place where we’ve lived over the years so we could be closer to hubby BUT it caused trauma to all of us. Uprooting each time, starting over each time. Kids don’t just pick up on our vibe, they are invisible to us sometimes when we speak, we don’t realise the things they hear that they never were supposed to. I have made that mistake too many times so take heed.

Moving often meant I had to keep finding a new village, a new tribe, a new support system. Sometimes I did, sometimes I went without. The without is doable but not preferable because we need to look after ourselves before you can take care of anyone else let alone your kids. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Learn to reach out, learn to ask for help. Hubby often reminds me that when I am upset the whole household is upset. When I lose my why; they become lost.

I know today I was not a perfect mom. But I always tried to be the best mom and even then I felt like I failed. The bottom-line however, Moms are not supposed to be perfect. They are just supposed to be there, to hold, to comfort, to care for, to discipline, to guide and to love. We are each the perfect mother for our specific children.

2 comments found

  1. I can concur about 18 months my hubby had open heart surgery and I was left to be mom and dad for a while although the operation was a success with some complications life was never the same again. The battle only started when he was released from hospital 19 days later I was by his side from morning till night it took its toll on me but the sake of being a mom and having to fight for our family and my kids was all I could think of not knowing how to at times but faith in God and a great support system got me through but be rest assured that all moms lose their why’s now and then and its okay cause you my dear Darling Mom you are enough.. Ilse Lewis Cape Town SA

    1. I am so sorry you had to go through all that. Hope things are all better now with hubby’s health and mom coping. Life is so hard at times. You’ve got this. ❤️

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