Tuesday, 9 May 2017

10 Things we are doing right for our kids

Guilt features high on the radar for pretty much all of us in our role as 'parent'. Everywhere you look you can see articles on what we are doing wrong, feeding the guilt and sending our anxieties up into new heights and beyond. So, for a change, here's what we are all doing right for our kids. Because a little bit of equilibrium is definitely needed!

1. We all care about how well we are doing.

The very fact we scrutinise ourselves and read the farsical '10 things you need to do to avoid supressing your child' and '5 ways to make sure your child is happy' articles is because the little doubt fairy and the little guilt fairy are sat on our shoulders dishing out their wares into our weary ears making us feel unsure about our parenting methods. But, the very fact we read this tripe shows we care about how we parent, and that is a very good thing.

2. We would die for them.

If there was a bus hurtling towards our infant, I'm certain all of us wouldn't think twice about lunging forward to push them to safety and taking on the bus instead. That's the beauty of instinct and a testament to the strength of love we have for our creations. How amazing is the strength in that?

3. We Sacrifice so much.

Mums and Dads alike sacrifice a lot when they step into parenthood. As mothers we sacrifice our bodies, our time, our sanity even. And so do fathers... all except the body part of course. Although a fair few do pile on the lbs alongside us so, in a way, I guess we can say they do too. They just don't have to require an epidural at any stage.

4. We lose sleep over them.

Whether its night feeds, teething, sleep regression or good old fashioned worry, shut eye is the something we lose on a monumental scale. And we don't throw them out of the window or bash them over the head, no matter how tired and deranged we get. We sit and cuddle and cradle them. We stroke their heads and pat their backs, sing nursery rhyme and lullabye concerts into the darkness and hold their hands whilst they cry. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. And we never break. How cool is that?

5. We put our careers on hold.

Be it a stay at home Mum or Dad or a mother on maternity leave, someone puts their job on hold for atleast a short while. We throw ourselves into a whole other kind of daily grind... where a coffee break comes in the form of a nap time and even the minimum wage is nowhere to be seen. No holiday. No sick pay. And no colleagues. You work from home alone mostly and are boss, employee, janitor and dinner lady. And then when you go back to work, you juggle both professions on the hop. Multi tasking at it's finest.

6. We put up with kids tv.

Be it Cbeebies or nickelodeon, we all have the kids tv on at some point. A day of Justin Fletcher and his creepy clown alter ego of Mr Tumble along with all the different programmes with their ear worm theme tunes is enough to drive the most together person to the fridge for wine. The other day I found myself contemplating drinking nail varnish remover for its alcohol, simply because I couldn't get the Go Jetters theme tune out of my head. Go go, go go, GO JETTERS!

Side note: Ubercorn the Unicorn and 70's disco?? Who writes this stuff?!

7. We are chained to the washing machine.

All. The. Time. I have no idea where it all comes from?! If I get to the bottom of the basket I do a little victory dance like Chandler from Friends. I thought we were confusing the cereal box with the box of Daz and eating the stuff from sleep deprivation at one point but it's simply a side effect of two under two either pooping, weeing, puking or spilling their way through umpteen items of clothing a day. An hour sometimes when reflux hits! I apologise to the washing machine every night and pat it in reassurance that we shall make it through. That and the dishwasher are the only things in the house more tired out than us. Will treat them both to a descaling soon. If I get time to clean. Which brings me to my next point...

8. We live in Pig Styes.

I've tried to keep things immaculate. Valiantly. I have followed the toddler with the hoover. I have picked up toys on my hands and knees and put them away every nap time. I have washed every dish after use and wiped surfaces clean when I should have been cleaning myself in the  shower. I have tried to keep toy bits all accounted for and neatly lined up every evening and I have dusted my way through a gazillion dust mites. But, it is like trying to hold back the tide. In a wool swimming costume. And concrete flip flops. The mess is inevitable. I now aim for clean and forget about tidy. I have embraced having a home that looks like the set of Home Alone when the burglars are loose and said bye bye to my Ideal Home aspirations. Because ultimately I am not a cat and I do not have a tail to chase. And if the house is a pig stye then remember the saying: 'Happy as pigs in shit'.

9. We give our time.

We all find ourselves reading a number book for the 100th time and daydreaming about what we used to do with our time. We all put down our phone to take interest in a toy that's babbling away in a sickly sweet american voice. We've all put ourselves in the position of an evening where we have to choose between using the time to sleep or have a life. Time is precious and we give it to them. Because they are precious to us.

10. We love them more than anything.

More than ourselves. No other love is as strong and powerful and the fact that we have such a capacity for that love is truly something. That love will shape them into the adults they shall one day become. It will be with them long after we are gone and it is what makes their world go round. Even if you don't do points 1 through 9, as long as you love them then that is enough for them. Because, for our most precious pieces of forever, love is all they need and want. And we all happily oblige.

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Thursday, 4 May 2017

Post Natal Depression: My letter from the depths

I'd heard of PND. It was just a label. Some variation of baby blues that one just snaps out of with magical pills and cognitive therapy. Now I'm in it and it suddenly doesn't seem so simple as that.
It's like being in a room that has no doors or windows. But it's a glass room. You can see everyone around you and even walk amongst them, but you have to fight to be heard and to make sense. You reach out to touch them and you don't feel them, despite desperately wanting to and seeing your hands and arms make contact. In fact, you become so desperate to feel something... anything... that you find yourself contemplating inflicting pain on your body just to ground yourself. To prove you are truly there and not lost in the hell of the glass room. To remind yourself that you are safe, despite feeling the complete opposite.

You try to do the simplest of things... like make breakfast. And you have to truly concentrate on each movement and talk yourself through each action so that you don't get it wrong. You lose things. And then you panic that you have lost them and that you are, once again, becoming lost yourself. You try to find what is missing and then get distracted by a thought (or a thousand thoughts, more on that in a moment) and suddenly realise you are staring into space, the toast is burnt, the baby is screaming, your partner is looking at you with worry all over his face and your toddler has poured his juice all over the carpet!

The thoughts in your head come thick and fast. A huge jumble of thoughts and feelings... some rational others not. The rational ones you cling on to whilst the irrational ones you fight against, reasoning with yourself that nothing bad is going to happen and that all will be ok. You check on the children 100 times an hour and see threats to their well being wherever you look. Will they choke on that piece of food? Will they fall off the sofa and smack their head? Will they ever not wake up from their naps? Will they contract an illness? Will they run out in the road? Will they fall over and end up bleeding and in pain? Will they, will they, will they?!

You see your babies. One new, beautiful baby and one sweet yet feisty tot that you have brought into the world and you feel something for them but you can't figure out what that something is. You know its love but the glass room and all the worry stop you short from feeling the true impact of that love. Because you are numb. Your mind and body are just overwhelmed and it is exhausting.

I have post natal depression and post traumatic stress disorder which causes severe anxiety. It is Maternal Mental Health week and I have written this to document exactly how it feels to be me because there maybe someone reading this, perhaps you or even someone you know, who is suffering the exact same thing and it is good to talk. There is such a stigma around mental health and there really shouldn't be because the cure is reaching out and talking to people. It takes courage and strength, I for one know that for sure. Some people will treat you like you are Virginia Woolf about to walk into a river. Some people may feel awkward and withdraw because they don't know what to do or say. But there will be those glorious ones who rally round to you, who will reassure you that all will be ok and they will take your hand and guide you out of the glass room and bring you back home.

To the people who have done that for me recently, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am going to be fine and, for now at least, am enjoying motherhood more than ever. Long may it continue as I never, EVER want to be in that glass room again.

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