My darling girl,
It has come to my attention that, at a mere 5 years of age, you are struggling with something that I truly wish that you could have escaped. As you tell me stories about school, I see it in your eyes, mirroring the expression that is so often in mine. Worries about friendships, about getting into trouble about being good enough all pour out, troubles that seem insurmountable in your little world. I hear your words and it is as if you are speaking the thoughts that have plagued my consciousness over the years.
You see, although outwardly confident, I know you know, I see you watching me, like a hawk, my every move recorded, my unspoken thoughts clear to you. I try so hard to protect you from it, to not show you that the band is tight across my chest again, that my thoughts are racing too fast for me to keep up with, all the things I need to do are overwhelming me. Yet often, I get lost in those thoughts, dragged into them and kept prisoner there, finally escaping and re-emerging blinking and dazed into the real world to see you watching me, always watching me.
I don’t know when it started, I was always shy, painfully shy, struck mute in many situations. An only child, sometimes lonely child as can often be the way, I found dealing with others confusing, often making social mistakes and then retreating back into my shell in embarrassment, fear of looking stupid containing me. As I grew older, things got better, or maybe I just became a better actress, who knows, it still lurked though, that shadow, always that shadow.
Then when I had you, beautiful, gorgeous you, the one perfect thing I had ever done. I would do anything for you. Literally anything, I would put my hand up and shout loud in the biggest crowd if you needed me too. When we moved to a new area, I knew that I would have to face up to my demons for your sake. There were all this things that I wanted for you. Swimming, friends, fun, and all involved me interacting with others. I would steel myself outside every play group door. Deep breath, large smile, once in, targeting another Mother on her own, complimenting her child, hiding my blushes in your baby bag, behind the buggy as I searched for something. Babies are so useful when you are shy and prone to blushing!
Slowly, the acting became less and the confidence grew. What’s the expression, fake it til you make it! That’s what I did! But then your brother came along and it was hard, so much harder then I had ever imagined. No family nearby, no one I felt able to lean heavily on, and a huge sense of failure. I was failing you, failing him, failing Daddy and failing myself and it ate me up inside. Every single time I lost my temper after too little sleep, I would be corroded by acid guilt that ate away at me. I would beat myself up endlessly for all the things I wasn’t doing with you, unable to accept that I had years to do these things. Always anxious, new situations, driving new routes just so anxious!
And now? Well, after some real help for what turned out to be some pretty serious Post Natal Depression, a move to a new area, friends, real, phone in a crisis, laugh until you cry friends and a big dose of happiness, things are better. So so so much better. In fact, most people wouldn’t realise that I could have ever been the person described above and yet I know you know, I know you sense it.
I think that we are both blessed, (or maybe cursed!), with a great empathy. We really feel things that others are going through, sensing someone’s mood maybe even before they do and so when I get myself into an emotional tangle, you feel it and it worries you. I am now trying a new tactic. Instead of trying to hide it, an impossible feat some days, I acknowledge it and I talk to you about it. ‘Oh Mummy’s got so much to do and she’s not sure how to fit it all in and so it’s worrying her but isn’t that silly as she will find a way to get it all done won’t she?’ In doing so, I feel as if I am helping us both. I am talking myself down from the ledge while also helping her process it.
I feel that it’s working. You are still a worrier, things still seem to bother you, but we talk about them and work out ways of dealing with them and I never tell you that you’re being silly, because I know that it isn’t helpful to dismiss your fears because I understand exactly how a throw away comment that would breeze past another child can sit close to your heart like a tiny thorn, causing a hurt that you can’t yet understand but can feel so deeply. As the famous quote goes;
“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
― Catherine M. Wallace
So in conclusion my beautiful one, I am with you, oh so with you, your worries are my worries, your pain is mine and I shall always do anything for you, including helping us both to beat this horrible sense of dread that can creep up and pounce when you least expect it. I will listen to every little thing you tell me, maybe not right before bedtime when I know you are stalling, or when I’m on the phone, or cooking, but I promise to make time to talk to you, to iron out the wrinkles in these thoughts that can plague us and to set you back on the path of the happy and confident girl you are most of the time. And in the process, I am also taking more and more steps towards being the happy and confident person I know I can be. Although I’ll probably still shout sometimes. Sorry about that, it can just be very hard to be heard and taken seriously sometimes! 🙂
All my love,
Your slightly flawed but very eager to change Mum. xxx