Most days I feel one or more negative thoughts about myself and my abilities, from guilt that we didn’t leave the house that day and panic that Sophie will develop a fear of going outdoors because of it, to complete lack of belief that I will be able to raise my daughter or any other children I may have to be normal, functioning people who can read/throw a ball/dress themselves etc. I’d like to say this post is one that ends with “and that’s why if you do this one simple thing (bit click-baity) you’ll find yourself full of confidence and will become the perfect mother!” but seeing as I have absolutely no idea how to handle these thoughts and fears yet, it’s not bloody likely.
Today I pushed myself a little out of my comfort zone, and it really did the job of making me feel better about myself and more confident of my abilities. The next trick is to learn how to hold on to that feeling and not wake up tomorrow feeling defeated before I’ve even gotten out of bed, but I’m working on that.
I received a message from a friend yesterday, asking if I’d be able to have their 6-year-old for the day. PANIC. I’ve never been solely responsible for someone else’s children for more than 10 minutes before, let alone a day, so yes, panic was firmly planted in my mind. In all honesty I immediately thought of texting back “really sorry, I can’t because x” but realised that there really wasn’t any reason that I couldn’t do it, other than my lack of faith in myself. So I blocked out the shouty voice in my head telling me I was rubbish and agreed before I had more time to think about it. I had it relatively easy as the girl I was watching was lovely, a little ray of sunshine, and so great with Sophie, but on the other hand I was going in the deep end as we already had plans to go to soft play with two friends and each of their sets of twins, so it was going to be full-on!
I’m ticking Thursday off as a massive success. Ok, I forgot to eat breakfast with the panic and spent most of the morning feeling shaky, (but was given the finger of shame and rescued by wonderful jacket potato fairy friend and made to eat lunch when I couldn’t get my head around ordering something and eating it when I had two children to supervise and made sure they ate too) felt sick to my stomach when I tried looking for my friend’s daughter in the big kids’ play area and couldn’t find her every five minutes (when she was having the time of her life and was completely fine), used up every single wipe I had in my possession in Sainsbury’s baby room while changing a Poonami that leaked everywhere, ran out of nappy bags so I had to fold the pooey clothes in on themselves and tuck them out of sight in my bag, and felt consumed with guilt after getting excited with friend’s daughter about watching a film when we got home but then getting back so late that there wasn’t time (but she ended up doing some colouring and watching Junior Bake Off which was just as brilliant in the end) BUT you know what? It doesn’t matter. Everyone was fed (including me), everyone had a fun day, Sophie was clean and happy and I actually felt like I could do it, I felt positive, I felt invincible.
Now I know that feeling will go away, no doubt about it, but hopefully one day soon I’ll find myself having more invincible days than defeated days, and to do that I need to use the tools at my disposal. I’m still figuring out the things that will help me to become a better version of myself, but I know the first and most important one is my friends. Both of the mummy and non-mummy variety. Friends are so important, whether it’s your longest-serving bestie, a mum you’ve struck up a rapport with in a baby group or just another amazing person like yourself that you have something new in common with (…babies), they are the best tools at your disposal, let them in, and be there for them when you can too.
I was told two things by mummy friends today and I found both really interesting. The first: “Nobody has ever died of a panic attack” was quite interesting, and I will think of that the next time I’m sucked under and will hopefully help me to work through it. The second: “Do one thing for you every day”, and it doesn’t need to be huge, it could be anything, drinking a cup of tea (the whole cup, it doesn’t count if it goes cold in the kitchen), watching a programme you love, etc, because remembering to keep in touch with your non-mummy side is important! Yes, of course, you may be a mummy but that’s just one new side that has popped up when that little one came along, and the old you can exist happily alongside it! Otherwise (like I have been) you will feel you’ve disappeared and been replaced with a mummy machine, and it spirals down and down and life just ends up feeling like “what’s the point?” which is a horrible place to be.
So I’m trying. Trying to push myself a little. To take help when it’s offered. To remind myself of who I am. To praise myself for the great days despite the bits that went wrong. To do the things that make me a better me, that in turn will make me a better mum. Fingers crossed.