Earlier this year I heard someone answer the question “what would you do differently in life” as follows: “ I’d fill it with less stuff”. That really got me thinking. What is “stuff”? Is it meaningful or just stuff? The answer prompted me to take a rain check on all the stuff in my life and to make some decisions as to what I really needed. I suffer a lot from the classic “mum guilt”; either I’m not around enough or I don’t give Poppi my best. I wondered if perhaps that answer had triggered my mum guilt, but actually, I think it was an important self-care inspection as well. Is the stuff I’m doing in my life worthwhile or character building for me? How does it impact Poppi positively or negatively? Is it necessary, say financially or as part of my CPD (continued professional development)? It came down to the fact that getting the balance between life, work, kids and self-care is a fine one, but one that is definitely worth reviewing before it gets too late.
The last two weeks in my therapy role have been incredibly draining. I have witnessed very troubled children expressing their trauma through their natural threat responses, which usually involves trying to take control of a situation and with no idea of the impact that may have on those around them. I have arrived home from work with nothing left to give. But, somehow, someway, I have to find something to be able to at least give Poppi a cuddle, get dinner together and get her to bed in the most positive way I can. This doesn’t always go to plan by any stretch of the imagination and I find myself going to bed with serious mum guilt. However, therapy is my job so something I can’t easily just pack in so I can be the perfect mother (cos let’s face it, even without the therapy, I would be FAR from perfect).
One of the kids I saw yesterday reminded me of something I think is worth sharing. We all have a strong side and we all have a weak side. For her, the weak side was a bad thing, but as we discussed this she reminded us both of the brilliant film Inside Out and how Joy had to learn that a little sadness was needed in order to fully appreciate the joyful things in life. This kid and I both needed to understand and accept that our weak sides are part of us, but that if they weren’t there our strengths wouldn’t be so noticeable (or strong) either. We need to come to the realisation that when we are weak it is ok to ask for help and allow others to step up where we can’t. We need to realise that it is ok to admit that we aren’t feeling at our best and to be able to apologise for when we get it wrong.
Life is seasonal and the dry and draining patches won’t last forever. As long as we continue to meet the basic needs of our little ones and show a little love in the way they receive it at our most desperate times, that is good enough. The brain forms memories and understandings of behaviour by continual repetition. If we have the occasional “off” day that is not enough to shape our children’s brains negatively.
Today, I speak from a tired and feeling empty mummy. But, I want to encourage us all, me included, that we can do it and we will do it. We will pick ourselves up again because we know this season will pass and our little ones will learn that they can be weak too and that is ok.