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OT - Opinions on how I handle my DD8

Redsonya's picture

Hi all,

I have a ton of respect for the ladies here and how they raise their kids. Its just me and my DD8 now. Her father (DH1), stepfather (DH2), my dad, her grandfather, and now her grandmother have all passed in the last couple years. We talk to one brother and his wife in another state and I have several best friends from high school that are close to us. Other than that, there is no other family. I feel like I may be overcompensating because of all the losses she has gone through. And I spend a lot of time feeling guilty/unsure.

Because we don't have any family, I get one break alone per year when she goes to camp - which I had to spend this year working. She sleeps with me, we vacation together, and we do everything together. I work full time and take care of a big house by myself. A lot of the time I am exhausted, but I make sure that we go out to a theme park or the zoo twice a month, she has a pony, and I take her to her swim/riding lessons every week. Her room looks like a toy factory exploded, she has every book imaginable, and a play room. She is actually a really kind kid, but I always feel like I am not doing enough and I worry about her being bored because she has no siblings and we live in an area where there are no neighbor kids (in the mountains and our neighbors are vacationers or old). She does go to an after school program every day and she has alot of friends. I don't want to be a Disney mom and raise a brat. How much is too much?

Redsonya's picture

Last weekend I was just exhausted and slept most of Saturday and Sunday after taking her to her riding lesson. That isn't typical for me, although I am tired after work during the week. She wanted to go to the park, but I had to clean the house and she made a couple comments about how we never go anyway, she is bored, and I never finish any board games with her. All while I am cleaning up her dirty dishes and clothes off the floor. She truly is not a tantrum thrower, but she is messy. I am clearly doing something wrong here because I am becoming the servant for an 8 year old.

ESMOD's picture

You can't be all things to her. It sounds like you are pretty enmeshed with her and that isn't particularly health.

1. Don't sleep with her. She is old enough to sleep in her own bed. She needs that independence.

2. Try to foster more interactions with kids her age. Are there any after school programs she could join?

3. You can't make up for her and your losses by showering her with gifts.

4. She is old enough to be learning to clean up after herself and have regular chores. That might alleviate some of that boredom.

5. Take a vacation by yourself. find a sitter or a friend she can stay with while you do that.

Redsonya's picture

1. Agreed on the co-sleeping. We had so many tragic deaths all at once two years ago and I was deeply depressed. There was no one to help us and I did the very best that I could while still holding my job. She slept with me because I couldn't add one more thing to my plate. I will start her sleeping in her own room tonight.

2. She is in an after school program and she has lots of friends. There are not a lot of playdates though - she does have friends over here sometimes. We live in kind of a weird community. People stick to themselves. I also work a lot so it has been hard to find mom friends.

3. I know this. I really don't shower her with gifts anymore.

4. I created a chore chart last weekend and she has been doing them. I have been after her for at least a year to pick up after herself.

5. That isn't going to happen. Sitters charge $10 an hour and all of my friends work full time.

I think I just feel overwhelmed. I work ALOT and nothing seems to be progressing. I'll start with the sleeping thing today, keep on her about the chores, and try really hard to find local mom friends.

ESMOD's picture

Perhaps she has a friend she could stay with for a weekend while you take some time for yourself?

TBH, I'm a bit surprised you haven't found some mom friends at the barn where your daughter boards and takes lessons. I found that I had a ton of adult woman friends when I boarded at a barn.. plus the horse moms too.

I know it's hard with working and taking care of it all by yourself. My DH and I don't have any friends we hang out with on any regular basis either because we just don't have the time.

Redsonya's picture

I have one or two friends that I would trust leaving her with. I am going to see if I can make that happen. I have to start getting my privacy and a little alone time back.

There aren't any barns where we live - they closed the last one a couple years ago - we board an hour away. I do have a few horse friends there, but none of them have kids. There are actually almost no kids at the barn, other than my DD8, now that I think about it, which is really odd, I agree. Maybe that's another change that needs to made - we could move barns and I could find one with a kids pony program.

Thanks for the advice:) Sometimes just typing it out and getting feedback opens my eyes for me. Its been a rough two years, but I am getting back to me again. Time for a normal routine, bed place, and rules for DD8. More parent/child, rather than clinging to each other like we have done up to now.

ESMOD's picture

I would definitely think about moving barns.. hopefully you could also find one that is closer so you can either go more often..or at least not have to drive so far. I know it might be limiting depending on what kind of discipline you are riding and if you show, but if it is for fun.. it might not matter so much.

It sounds like you have had a lot thrown at you the last few years. I kind of understand the feeling of being so overwhelmed that we just do what is easiest.

still learning's picture

That is a lot of loss in a very short period of time. You sound like an amazing mother and unless there are severe behavior problems I wouldn't implement abrupt changes due to the opinions of others.

Redsonya's picture

It was a lot of loss in a very short time. And every year since then she has lost a grandparent or someone else that she started to get close to. The rest of my family (two sisters, mother, cousins, etc) went off the deep end in the past few years. I mean really crazy stuff that almost resulted in me getting fired from my job (cousin worked there and collected a paycheck without working for almost a year on my project) or creating out of control drama when my dad died. We have slowly gotten back in touch with a cousin and aunt, but I am really careful who I let into her life. I will not let adults who have thrown tantrums and dumped her out of nowhere to get back at me, in again. I try really hard to have people around her that are solid.

Things are definitely leveling out so I think a few changes might be a good idea. She truly has no severe behavior problems. She is really kind and thoughtful (other than her messiness, which I think is more me not teaching her), and gets very good grades.

ESMOD's picture

I agree that abrupt or harshly changing things isn't necessarily the way to go.. but making strides towards her daughter being able to be more independent at night and learning to have some responsibility via chores are definitely worth working towards.

But, I agree completely yanking out the rug and becoming drill sergeant mama isn't the way to go either.

SMforever's picture

One thing you might start planning is to get the big house off your hands so you don't have so much work to do? Moving to a smaller place, in a community not so isolated? What keeps you where you are now? You could perhaps propose the idea to her and together research a new place to live that includes facilities that would serve both your social needs.

Redsonya's picture

I have thought of that. This house was originally my dream house, but we have not so good memories here that it took a while to move past. It feels like "ours" now so I feel we are past that at this point. The one issue is that I own this house and my mortgage is very affordable for a large, newer, very nice house. If we move somewhere else in my area (southern California), I will be easily paying another $800 a month to rent. I have owned this place for several years and got a great deal. I wouldn't be able to buy again for quite a while. If we did move, I would be looking at moving to a totally different part of the state that we could afford, which would mean pulling ourselves away from the few people in southern California that we are close to. Its a lot of tough decisions.

WalkOnBy's picture

I would suggest perhaps downsizing to a smaller house/condo.

While I like the changes suggested by everyone above, I do think that you will have to be careful on how much you throw at her at once.

I think you might have been overcompensating in the past, but it sounds to me like you are aware of your issues and are working to correct them. While I can understand the co-sleeping thing, it is time for that to stop, and I am glad to see you will stop that tonight.

One of the things that life teaches us, some more than others, is that loss is part of life. It sounds like she has seen you go through some dark times and come out the other side, so that's good, but it does sound like there is an awful lot of "stuff" in her room and her life.

It's not necessary to have outings every other weekend. What she really wants is your TIME, most likely. Instead of the zoo, take a walk and identify leaves/animals/plants or have a picnic. Instead of more toys and books, maybe go through hers and help her donate some to kids who need them.

You ARE doing enough. You are not there to entertain her, nor to be her best friend. The roof you provide is enough. The food you provide is enough. The pony is certainly more than enough.

You need to focus a little less on her and a whole lot more on YOU. You aren't good to anyone if you're not healthy - emotionally and physically.

Redsonya's picture

For financial reasons right now, its not possible to move. Sounds crazy, but with the deal I got buying my house, I would easily pay another $800 a month just to rent something smaller. My thought is to work towards a possible move when she gets out of fifth grade (three years) and let her be at the same elementary school. I am a little concerned about too much change for her now that things are finally calm and leveling out.

I will definitely get her sleeping in her own room - she has actually been talking about that. My focus at this point is moving stuff OUT of our house. She really only gets gifts now at Xmas and her birthday. But DH2 left an insane amount of crap that I haven't had the energy to go through and get rid of completely. Although I have done ALOT in the past two years.

WalkOnBy's picture

Oh boo - but I totally get what you're saying about the house. What about hiring a cleaning person along with giving your daughter some chores to help take the load off of you?

I am glad to hear that she has been talking about it. Time to take her up on it, right? Smile

What about an estate company coming in to help with the DH2 stuff? I know it is so hard to go through the belongings and everything that needs to be sorted through.

My BFF lost her husband on Thanksgiving of last year. She and I spent days going through closets, papers, stuff, mementos that belonged to him and it was B-R-U-T-A-L. I know it's overwhelming, but it really needs to be done.

Redsonya's picture

That's a good idea - a cleaning person. I will look into that. And DD has been doing her chores, which mainly focus on cleaning up after herself and feeding/cleaning up after our two small dogs and the cat.

I did get a guy to come out and pull almost everything of DH2s out of the garage and shed about 18 months ago and get rid of it. The rest I really have to go through. I managed to inherit DD1s, DD2, and my dads stuff. I've finished at least half of it. Now that I am mentally doing better, my goal is to have it completely done by the end of the year. I think I have put off a lot of it because it is hard to go through all those memories (good and bad).

Thanks for the suggestions - its really helpful. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and slowly but surely it will all come together. DD8 may not have a dad, but I am a good mom and she has traveled and had experiences most other kids her age haven't. Including riding horses in Iceland, going to the Caribbean, being in a horse show on her pony. I think I need to stop trying to outdo the last thing I've done and just give her the one on one time she wants from me. Maybe I can get up earlier to exercise and clean for an hour after she goes to bed. That will give me time to just be with her when she gets home from school.

WalkOnBy's picture

you absolutely need to stop trying to outdo the last thing you've done.

Most people I know have never been to Iceland. You are competing with yourself, for crying out loud. The good news is that you can stop it.

It's been my experience that even though they look and act like greedy consumers, kids really just want time.

So, yes, hire someone to clean the house and learn to let it be a little less clean.

So, yes, exercise after she's gone to bed - don't get up early, you need your sleep :-

Mostly, cut yourself some slack! You are doing the best you can, Sonya...

My BFF says that one foot in front of the other literally saved her life.

As the adorable little fish says "just keep swimming."


DreamingBig's picture

Hey just wondering if it might not be kinder to yu both to wean off the sleeping together. How about start with one night a week and let her choose it. Then two nights and keeping adding a night. That way it's gentle and easy and she will feel like she is having a say too and some control over a third of the way she spends her time.
Just food for thought.