Believing in yourself…
When I had postnatal depression and my anxiety had me in its grip I lost every bit of self love, confidence and ultimately the belief I had the ability to make good decisions.
I was always looking for someone to validate what I was doing, usually my mum. I felt I needed her approval, to know I was making the best choice, and the reassurance that I was ‘getting it right’.
I also felt a huge pressure to be just like her. Mostly this was put on me by myself. To me growing up my mum had been a role model. She is organised, well liked, hosts the family get togethers, everyone loves her cooking and her house always looks nice. She’s also very rational, level headed and full of common sense, so she was someone I would turn to for advice growing up. This was no different when I became a mum.
However we are different people. I am organised but not as organised as her, I’m much more emotional, my house isn’t always…(ok ever!) perfect. I had my baby, I struggled to keep up with the idea that I should be able to do everything, I felt nothin like my own mum and in my eyes I had failed at parenthood. For the next few years I felt a failure as I battled with my illness.
Now my eldest is 5 and finally I feel confident in myself again. I know I’m a good mum. I know we all make mistakes, we learn and we move on. I know no one is the same and that’s ok. I no longer look outside of my own home for reassurance. Decisions are made by me and my husband, and sure sometimes people will disagree and we may question ourselves but ultimately we do what’s right for us as a family.
This past year we went on our first abroad family holiday. We hadn’t been away for 5 years due to my anxiety and I finally felt ready to do it. Living in the U.K. many people suggested a short haul European destination for us. We considered it, but one place myself and my husband absolutely love is New York City and this was a destination we kept coming back to. Not a traditional family holiday location I know, but a place we had been before and felt confident the kids would enjoy. So we booked it.
We couldn’t wait, we made mental lists of all the places we had been the last time we visited and talked about how we couldn’t wait to show our children, who were 4, 3 and 18 months. Something made me feel uneasy about our holiday choice though…other People’s reactions when we told them. They were always the same; shock, disbelief and we had the same questions over and over:
“Are you taking the kids??”
“Are you mad?”
“Won’t the children be bored?”
I began to question myself, wondering if I had made the right decision. As the trip approached I started feeling nervous and even began regretting it.
However – we went and we had the Best.Time.Ever! The kids loved it, a whole week of precious family time, we packed so much in and the children loved every single second. Even the flight which I had been told by so many others would be hell with three young children, was in fact great. As I walked through the plane to our seats, each person who made eye contact with me I mentally apologised to. But the kids were great, my eldest forgot she was wearing headphones and loudly sang “let it go” much to everyone’s amusement, she loved being served by air hostesses and kept requesting free lemonade! They were no problem, but maybe we got lucky!
They keep asking to go back, they love looking through the photos and they most certainly didn’t get bored! The hustle bustle of the city that never sleeps had so much, and there’s something for everyone.
I’m so pleased we didn’t listen to others and we went with our decision, because it resulted in the best holiday we have ever had as a family or a couple. But I was annoyed at myself for letting others people’s opinions question my decision. We see it all the time, people choosing a baby name they love, family members hating it and the couple then changing because of others. Or other people’s opinions on how we feed our baby when ultimately each situation is different and only those involved can and should make the decision. The list is endless and as parents we are constantly being bombarded with other people’s views, and someone who is telling us how we ‘should’ be doing things.
I’m always keen gain advice and learn from others, it’s vital to make informed decisions but ultimately I now have the confidence in myself and my family to make the best decision for us.
I think this way of thinking is something which we gain over time, but sometimes it takes a leap of faith and belief in ourselves. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. But each time we fall or make a mistake it’s a lesson to be learnt and something we can grow from.