So here’s what happened. On the weekend, I met up with a bunch of crazies for a few drinks. We had a great evening and had lots of laughs. During the evening, “Nicola”, who I know as an acquaintance, came over to chat to me and what she said blew me away! Nicola thanked me for running a successful sleep workshop fundraiser for a local School (she’s on the P&C) and gave me a really big head. But then she said something that I would never have even thought of. She told me that the reason she didn’t come to this workshop was because she was too scared to hear that she may have done something wrong.
Something that may have damaged her eldest child and caused her to have anxiety problems. Nicola’s daughter is 8 years old and is currently receiving psychological support for her anxiety. Nicola told me that she was so desperate for sleep that she read a heap of baby sleep books and googled WAYYY too much and finally caved to the pressure of not only societies opinions of where and how babies should sleep but her own physical, emotional and mental need for sleep. She used a sleep technique that she didn’t want but felt she needed to and although she had an improvement in her then baby daughters sleep, she’s always wondered, in silence, if it was her that caused her daughter to have the problems with anxiety that she has today.
Nicola, armed with some liquid courage, finally opened up about this for the first time on Friday night. In a flood of tears, she asked me “Emma, did I damage my baby Daughter? Did I cause her to have anxiety as a young girl? I’ll never forgive myself for this!” After sharing a big hug, we sat down and had a chat. The technique Nicola used was one that I don’t teach as I have developed alternatives to this. Safer alternatives (I believe) but that’s besides the point. I had in front of me a Mum that was so fucking terrified that she had damaged her child that she kept it bottled up for 7 years! 7 years of fear, embarrassment, regret and shame for what she DIDN’T do! Nicola done what she needed to do. She was losing her mind. Her body wasn’t coping with the sleep deprivation causing her to be sick all the time.
She was experiencing dark and scary thoughts and the bond between her and her daughter was virtually non-existent! Had she damaged her daughter? Did she cause her to have anxiety? Who knows? But what I do know is that her daughter has a Mum who is there for her. A mum that loves her and cares for her and will be until the day she dies. She has a Mum to watch and help her grow. She has a mum that is there to comfort her and to seek help for her when needed. What would the alternative have been? How bad would it have gotten if she hadn’t done something? Would she still be here to chat to me today?
You see, this is the problem. We need to let go of the past. Sometimes this is easier said than done and WE need the professional help to get us there. We need to embrace what we now have and always look for ways to move forward, not necessarily improve. There’s plenty that we can do as mums to beat ourselves up about but at the end of the day, we all want the same outcomes for our children. We all want to the best Mum we can be. We’re going to fuck things up along the way. That’s how we learn. If it’s some help, here’s MY parenting motto… “My ultimate aim as a mum is to raise my children so they’re not quite as Fucked up as I am!” And would Nicola have heard at my workshop how much she damaged her child? NO! because my workshops are a place to laugh, cry (usually from laughing), feel supported and learn the best way for YOU and YOUR child to get some sleep!
Raise your head Super Mums, for you are doing an awesome Job xxxx Emma