Life feels like a big black hole right now. You have fallen into the dark abyss you have been fearing for three months, ever since your sweet boy was born not breathing and the doctors hinted he might emerge with cerebral palsy.
You hoped for a miracle, but as more and more people shared their ‘miraculous recovery’ stories, the reality set in. There are disabled children in the world. Not everyone bounces back against all odds. Not everyone gets that happy ending.
You won’t get that happy ending. Not in the way you imagine, anyway.
Grief is natural. By crying over the direction your life has gone and all the ways it’s going to be different from your dreams, you are not betraying your child. It’s true: he won’t be the person you imagined and he won’t have the life you dreamed of for him. It’s OK to feel sad for this. The park is where you go to walk around and escape the crying but it’s also where you grieve deeply. As you sit watching the other children play, it’s OK to feel sad for the things he will never do like chase the pigeons, splash in the paddling pool, beg for one more turn on the slide, scoot away too fast down the slope, join the junior football clubs. Just remember that it’s you you’re actually are feeling sad for. He will never know about the joys of these things, but neither will he ever realise what he’s missed. You need to mourn what you thought he would do, so that you can make space to accept the things he can.
Aaaaaaaarrrrgh. This quote. This mentality. THIS is why mothers today are struggling so much. It’s such toxic messaging.
A friend shared this meme the other day and while I recognise myself in it (I’m often the first up and the last to eat breakfast), I also recognise that continually putting myself bottom of the pile is the reason I get overwhelmed, angry, burned out as a mother.
We need to stop doing this. We need to prioritise our needs. We can show our loved ones that we love them in so many ways, including respecting and honouring ourselves. Modelling that we are worthy of eating when we are hungry, having a hot meal, using the loo when we need to.
Otherwise our daughters won’t treat themselves with the respect they deserve. They won’t learn to recognise their needs. They too will buckle under their mental load. Our sons will see us as someone who meets their needs at the expense of their own and expect their partners to do the same. Our partners will carry on letting us shoulder so much of the responsibility of raising a family without even realising the imbalance and the negative effect it can have.
We can change this message. Put yourself first, at least some of the time. Show everyone that your needs are as valid as everyone else’s. It’s a small act with big consequences and your family and your mental health will thank you for it.
I’ve spent a good chunk of the past year following my curiosity about ditching drinking.
I am sober curious and I’m not alone.
The past few years has seen a big surge in people choosing not to drink. I’ve noticed it increasingly among women, but that could just be down to my particular social media echo chamber. Some women who I really admire (list at the end) are on this journey too and I am keen to properly commit to joining them on this path.
Like many people who are sober or mindful drinkers, I don’t have a drinking problem.
That’s not to say I haven’t had a questionable relationship with alcohol in the past, I really have. In the days of being young and single, living in London, working on magazines I fully bought into the hard-partying culture.
I’ve been to those places where I think I am a more interesting person after a drink. Or that I need a drink to be funny or courageous or to ease social anxiety. I have felt free, empowered, fun, inspired and grown-up with a glass in my hand and cocktails in my belly.
On the flip side I have had crippling anxiety, low self-esteem, self-loathing and utter despair at my behaviour because I have drunk too much the night before. It’s affected relationships, work, my physical and mental health. Not for long, I might add, but it leaves its mark.Continue reading “Mummy doesn’t need wine”