Is it Time to Relax?


How do you relax the therapist enquires, pen poised to record my response to yet another soul delving question.

 “I drink a glass of wine… maybe a bottle.”

I watch her face to see the reaction, the tiniest indication, in the flicker of an eye or the spasm of a muscle to reveal her thinking. “You skanky useless mother, or you overgrown good time party girl, give it up, it’s embarrassing, pathetic even”

She lifts her head and smiles softly “ I know” she says “ it can be a release”.

“I don’t like it though, I want to be able to relax but find it really hard and so I resort sometimes to what I know”

“I can help you with that” she replies.

I decide a trip to the Zoo would be a good day out for us, we’ve not been for a long time and fun day with the boys is what I need. Daddy is going to the cricket, so instead of going it alone, a far too daunting a task, I commandeer granny into our trip. We rise early, make sandwiches and set off. The boys are in good spirits and excited at the prospect of the animals we are going to see, meerkats, monkeys, tigers and lions.  I remain upbeat, even with one small upset in the car, one of my pet hates because it’s so hard to control a situation when you’re driving, and don’t they know it, but we get through arriving just as the gates open.

As we move between Rhino’s and Painted Dogs, Otters and Butterflies, my motherly instinct to be on guard is by my side throughout. Born of the knowledge, and painful experience, that in any given moment one or other of my children could dive head first into a pattern of undesirable behaviour, to me vigilance is key. The firmness of my stance requires tight shoulder and an over active mind, seeking out our next possible downfall. Could it be that wasp buzzing around our sandwiches or the decision to see the Orangutans before we head to the gift shop? It is a long day but it passes without any major incidents, we actually quite enjoy ourselves.

By the time we open our front door my shoulder are knotted so tightly I swear they are brushing my ear lobes, I instantly reach for a glass of wine, bark some orders about behaving “or else” and run myself a bath. I escape into a mound of bubbles and steam luxuriating over every silky mouthful of wine and I feel a little relaxed.

Next day the empty bottle sits by the sink as I rub my eyes and consider my head and I trying to focus on the task of making packed lunches. I’m annoyed with myself. Why did I need to do that? We had a good day, it was enjoyable wasn’t it? But actually it wasn’t that enjoyable for me. I’ve become so uptight around my children that I struggle to enjoy them and the time we spend together. My confidence in them and my own ability to “cope” with them is so thin on the ground that I assume and think the worst at all times, and I therefore never enjoy the moment.

I recently, well over a year ago, gave up alcohol for a year hoping to solve all my worldly problems with this heroic act. I lasted eight and a half months before an almighty ball of family trauma, engulfed in stress, knocked me sideways into a glass of wine. I was miserable a lot of those eight and a half months and I now understand why. I spent all eight and a half months consumed by stress, anxiety, worry and more stress. Without my wine induced world of escape, there was no escape, I found no other escape and I still don’t know what that other escape might be.

I have however recognised I can’t continue with the uncertainty I feel in parenting my children, and I have therefore sounded the alarm. Post Adoption Social Services are on board and referrals have been made for other agencies who can hopefully offer support.

I am not the in any way hovering over a bottle of wine each evening, in fact on the most my time of abstinence has brought greater caution and self awareness,  but yes I still enjoy a drink or two at the right time and maybe occasionally the wrong time.

And then there is the therapist, pen poised, and taking notes. I like her; I really believe she might be able to help me. I need confidence again, I need reassurance, I need strategies, I think she might be able to give these too me.

Do you know that feeling of having wondered so far from the path that you are lost? Me too. But do you know the feeling of taking a turning that suddenly feels that you might be facing in the right direction again, yes, that’s how I feel right now. I’m ever hopeful that we are back on track and heading towards a place that is happier, and even more hopeful that I’ll find relaxation there too.


  1. Buster September 15, 2013 / 8:04 pm

    This paragraph – ‘We had a good day, it was enjoyable wasn’t it? But actually it wasn’t that enjoyable for me. I’ve become so uptight around my children that I struggle to enjoy them and the time we spend together. My confidence in them and my own ability to “cope” with them is so thin on the ground that I assume and think the worst at all times, and I therefore never enjoy the moment.’ sums me up completely. We have what could be described as a good day, and I still think ‘urgh’ – and yes, I also (if I have any) have a glass of wine to relax.
    Good to hear you are getting help and support. You do a great job and your blog is always worth reading.

    • thepuffindiaries September 16, 2013 / 9:23 am

      Knowing that I’ve asked for help and someone has listened has helped already. So fingers crossed were on the up. Thanks for your kind comments. x

  2. Mummy Plum September 15, 2013 / 9:20 pm

    You write so honestly and from the heart – I’m sure many parents can identify with the feelings you describe here – I know I can. I applaud you for being able to be abstinent for so long – I don’t think I would have the will power. I’m sorry things have been tough but am pleased to hear that you’re getting some support and that things are starting to feel better. x

    • thepuffindiaries September 16, 2013 / 9:26 am

      This are already improving by just knowing that help is at hand. We are going to need to work on things but I at least feeling were going forward, slowly. Thank you. x

  3. Suddenly Mummy September 16, 2013 / 12:01 am

    It’s an old cliche that realising there’s a problem is the first step in solving it, but sometimes the cliches are true! It’s not everybody that can be as self-aware as you have been, and certainly not everybody that is prepared to admit that they need help and support, so take a big pat on the back for having done both of these things. I hope your optimism lasts a long time and carries you through :)

  4. thepuffindiaries September 16, 2013 / 9:28 am

    I thikn that’s what I lost in these tough times, my belief in my awareness, just felt like I couldn’t read anything any more, and I have found that very frightening. Things are hopefully going to improve now, fingers crossed. Thanks for your kind comments. x

  5. Emma September 16, 2013 / 1:08 pm

    I am glad you are getting some support, it’s definitely important (even if they only come up with reassurance that you are indeed doing a great job!) Emma

    • thepuffindiaries September 16, 2013 / 2:09 pm

      Thanks Emma, it feels good to finally have someone listen. x

  6. sarahhillwheeler September 16, 2013 / 1:21 pm

    What an honest and refreshing post.

    You are not alone. I think some times because we have become so child centric (good in itself) there can be an assumption that parenting should (always) be a pleasure when sometimes it can just be damn hard (and don’t they know what buttons to press?) It can be a struggle to relax.

    Last week I went to a yoga class (my first in eight years – before J I used to practise every day) and for a precious few minutes I got that deep sense of peace and relaxation I got before J. Sadly, it didn’t last. I was back to swearing and pulling my hair out by the next day. But it was something. I’m going to try and build in some regular sanity time.

    Good that you’re talking to a therapist….and that you appear to have found one you can gel with. It sounds very glib (it’s so hard to say something that doesn’t sound glib, as your experiences are uniquely yours) but there may well be some truth in the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. So many of us struggle on in wilful (or not so wilful) blindness.

    • thepuffindiaries September 16, 2013 / 2:08 pm

      Thank you, I sometimes wonder if I am too honest but find it difficult to write in any other way. Thanks for your comments. x

  7. Mrs Teepot September 16, 2013 / 1:46 pm

    *hugs* I’m glad you’ve got some help on board, it sounds like you’re living an incredibly stressful life at the moment. I hope that you get the help you need to relax and enjoy your parenting.

    • thepuffindiaries September 16, 2013 / 2:09 pm

      Thanks for the hugs, I am moving towards being more relaxed, I hope. x

  8. Woebegonechild September 16, 2013 / 2:41 pm

    Hats off to you for asking for help. That’s a big step for a coper, as we women tend to be.

  9. Mother Goutte September 16, 2013 / 5:48 pm

    What an honest post and how courageous to ask for help, such a big step, isn’t it? x
    I’ve often heard that you’ve got to find the right therapist for you, you’ve got to ‘click’. It’s great that you’ve clicked with yours! xx

    • thepuffindiaries September 16, 2013 / 8:57 pm

      I tell my children that the grown up thing to do is ask for help when you need help, so hopefully I’m being a good grown up. x

  10. Sarah Miles September 19, 2013 / 11:46 am

    Your honesty is refreshing, and comforting. I know I drink to ‘take the edge of the day’ and then I finish the bottle. ‘Fun’ days out, like parties, are only really fun for those who aren’t organising/hosting/responsible. Good for you for going, I think I would have given in to the gremlins in my head and not gone.


  11. older mum in a muddle September 20, 2013 / 6:40 pm

    A really great post. So honest. My vice and comfort is food – I love food!!!! So glad you are getting the support you need – I can’t even begin to imagine the stress of adopting older children – that they came to you from shattered beginnings. It takes a tower of strength to do that, and that, my dear, is you. So glad to see you blogging regularly again. X

  12. Siobhan@EveryoneElseIsNormal September 23, 2013 / 11:29 am

    How fantastically honest you are. Don’t apologise for being so honest! That is what blogging is (partly) for, at least about our own failings (I try not to focus too much on my kids’ failings as i know they might read my blog sooner or later). We all fall back on alcohol too much, and its good that you’re talking about it. This need to be the perfect parent is a total crock. It comes out society’s general pressure to be perfect at everything and we need to recognise it as impossible (its my pet fav subject to blog about – see ‘The Good Enough Mums’ post for more, and ‘I used to be nice before I had children’, being another!). I’ve started learning about Mindfulness and meditation. I think you’ll find that soooo helpful. You’ve already started just by showing the amount of self awareness you already possess. I’ll be blogging about it in a few weeks once i’ve started getting a hold of the concept a bit more, but I’m already finding myself calmer etc….. Sorry this is so long! Thank you for your post. S

  13. suzanne3childrenandit September 24, 2013 / 4:54 pm

    Wow Sarah, this is very raw but something I can absolutely relate to. I’ve recently hit a wall in my parenting (in fact both my husband and i have). As you say, I rarely enjoy days out with them and i’ve even forgotten how to enjoy their company. I am seeing a Chiropractor regularly for a bad back (mainly due to the shoulders up my ears syndrome that you speak of) and we’re also both seeing a counsellor who is helping us get back on the track parenting-wise. I feel much positive and more in control than I have for a long time. I think that this help has come in the nick of time because with two pre-teens I can see that life is only going to get harder. We still have some downright awful days where I rarely raise a smile and feel as though I’m constantly nagging or having negative thoughts about them but on the whole, we’re seeing some better patches. I enjoyed them over the summer (mostly!) and I actually never thought I would say that. Hang in there, this blogging world is really great for support. I totally understand your feelings. Sorry this is so rambled! x

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