Tonight we had soggy broccoli for dinner. This would never have happened 3 years ago without me having a huge meltdown.
3 years ago, in the height of my postnatal depression with Bear, soggy broccoli would have been a disaster. In my mind it would be a huge beacon to the world that I was unable to look after my child and prepare a dinner. It would only have to happen once and I would be left feeling like a complete failure. Failing as a wife, failing as a mother, failing as a human being.
I was very fortunate that through suffering antenatal depression with Fox that I received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I learnt about my unhelpful thinking habits and how I could tackle this day to day. I still use the “Good Enough Scale”. Which I am sure my therapist would be very pleased to hear. I’ve learnt it’s good to have a balance and that I only ever need to be good enough. Even more importantly I’ve learnt that I am good enough.
I still feel sad when I look back on all the times I would have “neglected” Bear to maintain the image that I was loving being a mummy. That I could balance being a mother with working life and looking after a home. To be fair at the time it was the easiest option, I would rather have done these things than enjoy a lingering cuddle.
I am so pleased that that version of me is long since gone. Tonight my Fox wanted a cuddle. It was a sleepy cuddle. He is still squidgy. However the lengthy cuddles like this are slowly disappearing, as he gets bigger and wrigglier. I sat down with him, he nestled in for a cuddle. I remembered the dinner was on, broccoli steaming away. I didn’t care, I knew it would be over cooked. 3 years ago I would have put Bear down to sort it out. I would have missed out on that cuddle. I would have been left feeling guilty that I didn’t love my son enough. Today I enjoyed every second of that cuddle. I could relax, happy in the knowledge that the cuddle was worth so much more (to both me and Fox) than a perfectly timed dinner. And I’m going to keep enjoying those squidgy cuddles for as long as I can.
And to any parent struggling out there, remember you’re good enough too.
Some days I feel like super mum (there are many others that I don’t). This isn’t me bragging, this is me recovering.
Part of my treatment for my depression was cognitive behavioural therapy (more about that another time). But part of the issue identified by my therapist was a lack of self compassion and low self esteem. It was hard to pin point when that had really begun. I don’t think I ever realised quite how bad it had become until he asked me the question “What do you like about yourself?” I just burst into tears, I couldn’t think of one thing.
I was perfect capable of being compassionate to other people and offering normal/sensible advice to those people. But I was unable to give myself that advice. If I was struggling, I saw it as failing. It was MY fault this situation had occurred. I was too hard on myself and as a result to try and compensate and make myself feel better for “failing”, I would try to do more. This is never going to end well, an endless cycle of trying harder and harder, putting more and more pressure on myself until eventually I cracked.
Now I realise that to be kind to yourself and promote your positive points isn’t bragging. Yes, I still very much believe in modesty, however you need to understand your positive qualities. If I was asked the same question now, I could come up with various things.
Anyway, today was a good day. I achieved so much more than I expected. I even managed to bake a vegetable loaf. That isn’t what makes me super mum. What makes me super mum is that despite the bad days, I’m still here, surviving, doing the best I can. I no longer look at the bad days as failed days. I look for the little achievements in the day. I’m not celebrating the mundane (like managing to get dressed), I’m learning that the things I do are good enough.
So for the parents out there, you’re doing fine. Even if you didn’t manage to get dressed today, we’ve all been there.
A short while ago I was talking to a friend about life with 2 children. She expressed concerns that if she were to have another, she was worried she wouldn’t love them as much. This wasn’t the first time I had heard this from someone with one baby. This thought has never crossed my mind, in fact it was the complete opposite. Mind racing, anxiety creeping in, do I admit that I am worried I love my second born more than the first?
STOP. Why was I anxious about this. She admitted her worries to me, why should I not admit mine to her. As mother’s, we were in this together. I should feel fortunate to have a friend who is willing to share this with me. Being a mother is not a competition, you can’t win, you can’t do everything right. Share experiences and try not to judge.
The real reason I was scared to admit this thought was down to two things:
- A life long desperate desire to be liked and to fit in
- That I had postnatal depression after my first so motherhood was less than rosy when I had my first
Postnatal Depression (PND) affects 1 in 10 women. Very few people know that I suffered with it. When I had my first I was flung into a new world. None of my close friends had babies, the only people I knew with babies were my new NCT friends. How do you admit that you have a problem when they all seem to be loving motherhood, it came so naturally, they were all still glowing and gushing with love for their new babies. Desperate to keep these friends, afraid of being rejected from the only people I knew with babies, I pretended to be all these things. The chances are some of the mummy’s I met were suffering too, but like me, were too scared to let on.
Some days I feel that twang of guilt as I look at both my children and realise that my second born brings me so much more joy and happiness in this “baby” stage than my first born ever did. Sometimes all he has to do is look at me and my heart just melts a little bit. But then this is what is motherhood is meant to be like for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the days I want to pull my hair out, have a day off or wish the crying and tantrums would just stop. But first time around everyday was like that.
This time I’m much more honest. A lot of our friends from university and work have now entered the reproductive stage. This year alone we have had 7 sets of friends who have become first time parents! I always ask how their getting on. I never say how wonderful it must all be and they must love every minute of it. Instead I say I hope they are managing to enjoy it despite the lack of sleep and that it really is hard work. I still struggle to admit my PND, partly due to embarrassment and partly because it’s not about me now, it’s about them.