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.
I took a selfie a few days ago. I’m not really part of the selfie generation. When I was at university, we used to take a camera on a night out and point it at our faces from arms length if we wanted a group shot. But this particular photo has become a new favourite of mine.
It’s not actually a very flattering photo of me. My hair looks quite dull, verging on grey. I look tired, with obvious bags under my eyes. I have developed crows feet. But I look happy. I have my chubby little fox in front of me and you can just see my smile peeping out. I really enjoy looking at this photo as I look happy, it makes me feel happy, it reminds me that I am happy.
Perhaps as I am getting older, I am becoming more content with who I am.