How not to survive the baby years
Today, while I was dropping my 10 year old son at school, I was sent a reminder of what it felt like to be back in the baby years. I spotted a mum pushing her baby in a pram who was screaming in a way that sounded as if he/she was being strangled and could easily compete with a loud-hailer. The mother was moving at a rate that only emergency workers or mums with screaming kids move at. The poor woman looked like she had a mixture of inner dialogues running through her brain: ‘If I walk quickly I won’t have to look at the concerned faces of the passers-by’. ‘No, I am not doing anything wrong….or am I?… god knows…just get me home!’
While I sit in my garden on this beautiful sunny day in May. I must admit, I feel slightly guilty at how peaceful and calm I’m feeling and relish all this head space that I now have. I remember very clearly, when I was also a mum with a newborn 13 years ago, peace simply didn’t exist and it felt like it would go on forever. It’s a bit like when well-meaning Aunts say that school years are the best days of your life and having already endured 7 years another 7 just sounded like torture. I also found motherhood difficult because I’m quite a shy person and don’t enjoy standing out in public and when my baby was screaming it felt to me like all my failings as a mum were being blasted up every street in Brighton.
Back then, I found it difficult because I was a bit of an independent, free-spirited kind of person so motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks. I love my children dearly but not being able to do what I wanted, feeling trapped and suddenly the focus shifting from me to my baby took me by surprise. I went from a creative, idea-busting artist/video editor to a worried, milk-giver and cleaner-upper and it didn’t suit me.
I think if you haven’t grown up, then motherhood, as well as providing beautiful moments, slaps you around your face relentlessly until you can repeat ‘I am a grown-up, I am a grown-up.’ But what if you don’t want to grow up?
As you are probably starting to gather, I found being a mother hard and also had post-natal depression that persisted for many years because for one thing it was hard to admit that I was struggling when there were always brave friends who tell you how tough it was for them but they were ok. Added to that, the media are constantly parading super mums who’s bodies snap back impeccably, all apparently running around doing superhuman things on 2 hours sleep.
It was only when my children went to school and I suddenly had time again that I noticed very acutely that I had to do something about this depression. I tried many therapies and some helped, like homeopathy, but when I tried EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, a holistic therapy which involves tapping on the acupuncture points of your face and hands) I made a lot of progress very swiftly.
By using EFT I realised that the negative behaviour that I was experiencing actually led to memories of experiences in my childhood and by tapping on these memories I started to change the way I reacted to situations and actually started surprising myself in a good way. Doing EFT looks a bit nuts but actually feels a bit like magic. My relationship with my children has also improved because I feel better about myself and my children have picked up on this.
Nowadays, I think I have grown up a bit and my kids are growing too into wonderful characters that I could never had imagined.
My daughter is beautiful, creative, very organised and I think she’d make a much better mother than me, but she got me and sometimes our children are here to teach us things too. My son is funny, handsome, sensitive and is starting to walk to school on his own but still gives me lovely big cuddles. These days I can see childhood slipping away and I miss their chubby cheeks and first words but love the beautiful people they are becoming.
So if you’re thinking ‘when will this baby hell end’, I’m not saying enjoy these moments because they won’t last forever, because that’s just annoying… but savour what you can and don’t beat yourself up about it. Also, if you even get a sniff of the fact that you are suffering from post-natal depression, I would suggest getting some help. EFT worked for me but other things might suit you better so just do some research on this wonderful and vast internet because by concentrating on yourself sometimes can benefit your whole family.