I am the selfish mother

I am the selfish mother, which is something pre children I would have never dreamed of becoming. I make sure I have adequate time away from my children, I buy myself treats, I go to the gym and leave my child in a crèche. I am more than happy to book weekends away with friends and have nights out getting drunk and I feel no shame in this. I go to work and feel no guilt leaving my children for the day, as I get adult conversation and money to treat myself. I lock myself away in my bedroom whilst my husband watches the children so I can write my blogs or even sit on Facebook in peace. I even have long baths and leave my husband in charge of the chaos. I sometimes ignore my children and I don’t jump up for their every request. The playdoh and art supplies stay firmly in the cupboard and comes out if I can be bothered.

I am a selfish mother and that suits me fine. I spent so much time trying to give my children every ounce of me and the consequences were not good. I tried to do too much and I got to breaking point and wasn’t able to care for my children properly because of this. I will never become that emotionally and physically drained mother again as my children were not getting the best of me. For me to be a good mother I need to look after myself first so I can look after them. I am again enjoying being a mother and I am again capable of giving my children quality time that they deserve.

I used to force myself to take the children out constantly and felt guilty if they were stuck in whilst I had to do the housework. I used to spend every penny I had on my children’s clothes and shoes when I reality they didn’t need as much as I was giving them. I am strict on bedtime so I get my evenings to myself again, as this is my time and it is important to me for my mental wellbeing. My children are my priority, I love them dearly and their needs are met but I can be selfish whilst this is achieved. As a mother we are told we need to sacrifice everything, our bodies, our looks, our time, our friends, our money and that really isn’t fair. My husband has given up a lot to be a father, but he isn’t the one who has to drop everything at the drop of a hat if a child is ill, or plan his whole life around school pick-ups and after school clubs. I am the one that keeps this house running not because of my money I put in, it is because I plan every aspect of our lives to fit in and work perfectly. I had forgotten for some time to plan myself into this time for me to have a break, but I now am.

2017 will continue to be about me, my wellbeing, my happiness and the happiness pf our whole family. I deserve a break as much as anyone and I will take it.

 

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Loving myself and happiness that I deserve

Something that I’ve really struggled with all my teenage and adult life is loving myself. I have always had a low opinion of my self and lacked confidence, but with postnatal-depression my self-esteem really took a bash. Not only did I not like the person I was, I was also doubting myself as a mother and how good of a parent I actually was. I am currently trying to build my self-esteem and confidence to become the person I want to be. It’s all about believing and knowing what you deserve and I know I deserve happiness. I know some days will be hard and some days I will struggle to believe in myself, but it’s all about picking yourself back up and not letting those feelings linger and not letting them work their way in so you believe them.

I’m finally feeling well enough to enjoy parenting again and am able to appreciate my children. I can now feel emotions of love and happiness and not just pain and sadness. My children are my main focus through this and I need to get better for them not just myself. I need to love myself so they can grow up knowing how to love themselves. I need to be the role model my children deserve and the support for them when they need encouragement.

I am taking this time to focus on myself and putting my needs first. I am no longer doing things just to make others happy. I am looking after myself, I am taking the time for long baths in peace so I can unwind and relax after a day, going to the gym so I can feel healthier and doing something for myself, writing my blog as its therapeutic and puts things in perspective, taking time to do my make up and hair so I can feel more like me and occasionally treating myself to something I want and not just need. I have dedicated 18 months of the last five years growing humans and 2 1/2 years breastfeeding them and it’s my turn to be a little selfish and start focusing on myself. I have given everything I have to my children and can no longer give as much, unless I start looking after myself. I am Michelle and not just mum and need to focus on what makes me happy from time to time.

These last 18 months have been extremely hard on myself, but they have also been enlightening. I have learnt so much about myself and why I am, the way I am and what makes me act in certain ways. I know I will never been perfect and I am letting go unrealistic expectations and starting my life as a new blank page. I am fortunate that I feel love everyday from the family that I have helped create and I am rich in so many ways besides wealth. Life is good and my happiness is reachable.

 

 

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Lonely parenting and finding the support you need

Taking Miss J home from hospital for the first time was nothing short of magical. She was beautiful, happy, content and feeding well. My husband was lucky enough to be able to take two weeks off and we spent those couple of weeks visiting friends and family and going out for lunches. When my husband went back to work working 12 hour shifts and the visitors died down I started to realise the reality of being a mum with a husband who worked. I started to get lonely and realised that being at home with a baby all day long, with no one else to speak to was lonely and isolating. At first when Miss J came along we had so many visitors, but as she got older they dwindled, not for any fault of their own it was because life moves on and people have their own lives to live.

I didn’t have postnatal-depression with Miss J but I did struggle with anxiety so for me to go to baby grows was pretty scary experience and something I would get myself really worked up over. I forced myself into these groups but in the village where I lived at 24 I was one of the younger mum’s who went and felt a little bit unsure of myself. I continued to go and did make some lovely friends through these groups and me and Miss J loved doing the baby massage class together. My year at home with Miss J was pretty jammed packed full of different groups sometimes even two in one day and it honestly was the best year of my life. The baby stage is very short, even if at times it feels never-ending probably because you haven’t had eight hours sleep over three nights let alone one night. I felt it was important and helpful to me to find some friends who were going through the same stage as me so baby groups and also Facebook groups were so invaluable to me. When I did have to return to work when Miss J turned one I was honestly gutted that I wouldn’t have that time with her again. I went back to work three days a week and I cherished my days off in the week with her.

When Mr T came along I was naive to think it would be the same. I thought having Miss J at home would be helpful and would be nice as I could now have a proper conversation with her. Miss J wasn’t particularly impressed with this screaming and pooing thing that I spent most of my time feeding. She because quiet jealous and wouldn’t acknowledged his existence. As a mum you immediately feel guilty and that you have betrayed your first born child and with my husband going back to work I had never felt more alone and isolated. I tried desperately to get out the house but I found toddler groups just exhausting, as I had to keep an eye on Miss J whilst carrying Mr T with me. I wasn’t actually able to talk with anyone and found the whole experience stressful. Miss J decided to perfectly time stopping napping when her brother was a week old which made me I feel I was unable to have anytime to actually bond with my new baby or time to be able to appreciate my daughter and I desperately lonely in my house all day long. We tried getting out with walks to the park but Miss J would refuse to walk and want picking up whilst I tried to push the pushchair. I found that I wasn’t seeing or speaking to people for days and I would just sit at home crying and feeling like I was letting both of my children down.

When Mr T was 5 months old something had to give and I excepted that I needed to get help for postnatal-depression and anxiety. Luckily Miss J had started pre-school at this point and I was able to get a little bit of a break from her and she could get a break from me and her brother. I started taking antidepressants and started CBT which did help my anxiety. It has been a constant battle and something I am still battling. I’m enjoying my time more with the children and I am able to appreciate them more, but I do still have times where I feel isolated and lonely. Miss J now loves her little brother and also loves to go to school whilst Mr T has got a little easier and is happy to entertain himself for short periods of time so I can just about keep on top of the house.

The point to this post is that it does get easier and it is all momentary and will not last forever. They will soon grow, need you less and became their own little people. It’s important to involve yourself in local groups, even if it means trying out a few until you find one you really like. Connect on Facebook with local groups and also baby groups and you will soon realise you are not alone and that your feelings are quiet normal to feel lonely. I have made some lovely friends through Facebook, some who I have met a few times and some who only live in my phone, but these people are real people who care for me and support me as I do for them. Do what you need to do to get through the day and don’t feel guilty as you are doing a lot better job than you think you are. If someone offers to babysit, take them up on it, if no one asks, then ask them, if you can put you child in a crèche whilst going to the gym, then do it and if you can put an older child in preschool or nursery then do it. A happy mummy equals happy children so make sure you are looking after yourself so you can look after your children properly.

 

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Finding happiness again

Finding happiness again

My task for this week is to find happiness again. I feel like I’m now ready for a few challenges which I know will make me feel better so I can get back to work as soon as possible. My biggest worry this week is being weaned off the medication I was on to help me relax and sleep, but I’m hopeful that I can do it if I have other things in place to make me happier.

Affirmations are something that do work from experience but over the last few weeks I’ve neglected them completely as I’ve been stuck thinking negatively, but I am ready to start these again. See a post I’ve written about affirmations click here . Something else I am starting again is my head space app which from experience has really helped me unwind before bed and clear my head. I find that with my anxious thoughts my mind races at 100 miles per hour and I really struggle to switch off and fall asleep, so I need to again adopt a calming bedtime routine to help stop this.

I’m planning on visiting a gym tomorrow which is local and has a crèche so at least on my days off I can have some time to myself and get fit at the same time. We all know how important endorphins are to make us feel happier so I think if I do a couple of classes a week to start with like Zumba and Pilates Its time to myself, gets me fit, I feel better and I’ll hopefully lose some pounds.

I treated myself to a lovely organiser a few days ago from Paperchase http://www.paperchase.co.uk/ which I am hoping will make my life easier. I have a terrible memory especially with my medication so I thinking if everything is written down and scheduled in it will make me more likely to complete these things. I have a habit of cancelling on things at the moment as my anxiety and depression make it hard for me to get out.

A massive achievement this week for me has been to schedule my first counselling assessment on Tuesday which I know is going to be incredibly difficult, but its something that needs to be put in place so I don’t go back to where I was before and I know the long-term benefits will definitely be worth it.

I am back on Slimming World this week and will be eating plenty of fruit and vegetables as after a 4.5ib gain last week I’m feeling pretty rotten. I gained as I didn’t care and ate what I wanted to try to get some comfort, but I know this isn’t effective as at the time it might be nice and feel good to indulge, in the long-term it makes you feel guilty, sluggish and your jeans tighter. I need to get healthier for my own mental wellbeing as well as my health and stop using food as a coping mechanism. Check out my tasty slimming world soup recipe click here.

I have become guilty of palming my children off to the TV and tablet over the last couple of weeks as I haven’t been able to connect with them emotionally in my depressive state. TV is great and I have no issues with them watching it but they need a healthy balance. This week I’m going to focus on getting on the floor and playing with them, having the time to listen beyond their basic needs and laughing with them. Children can be the best medicine and without mine I would struggle so much more to get better as they really do bring me so much happiness.

Blogging has been a huge help for me to see things clearly. Writting everything down and reading it back is an amazing therapy and something I will be focusing on again, as it brings me lots of happiness. My mind last week was blank for ideas and it was something I just didn’t want to do, but finally now I’m sleeping again I’m getting some ideas again on what to write and I hope that continues.

Last week me and a friend went to Y spa which is local to us and I’ve visited many times before. If I’m honest I really didn’t want to go and have to face anyone, but my lovely friend arranged it all and forced me out the house and I’m so grateful she did. I had a lovely relaxing, child-free time and managed an hour-long nap on the heated water-bed. I had a fantastic facial and scrummy lunch and felt like a new woman when I left. I think spa trips should be compulsory to all mums every couple of months.

This week I’m going to be focusing on me and my happiness and doing things for myself again because if I’m not well I’m not going to be able to be the best parent I can be for my children.

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Blogging – my therapy

I feel like in these short 8 weeks I have achieved more than I have since leaving school. Not only has this blog been my therapy it has been my salvation. I started this blog to purely write down how I felt about things and after some encouragement from friends I decided to make it public. Just two months ago my self-esteem was at its lowest it had ever been. I was still battling PND, anxiety and my confidence was rock bottom. I’ve not been magically cured over night, but I feel so much better in myself and can now see light at the end of the tunnel.

Since I can remember I’ve always had a habit of starting something, but when things get too hard I throw it all in, but for the first time in my adult life I have done something that I have loved and carried on past the first hurdle. I believe I still have so much more I can do with this blog and plan to keep going as long as I have an audience.

Two weeks ago I faced my biggest challenge and decided to go from my wordpress.com blogging platform and become self-hosted, I used https://www.tsohost.com/ who have been amazingly supportive and helpful. I was out of my depth completely and spent many an hour googling and reading eBooks on how to achieve what I had in mind. I have had to learn about widgets, plugins and SEO’s and if I’m honest I’m still not sure, but I am enjoying learning.

I have made something that is my own, my own little space in cyber space where I can write about anything I like. I love that I can do something for just me and have time out from just being mum, even if my biggest inspiration and topic is about being mum. When my head is filled with ideas on what to write and I am desperate to get them typed out, I feel like a child again writing a story where I am excited to find out how it will end. Having a creative outlet is so fulfilling and rewarding and something I recommend.  I don’t know what’s next for me, but in this moment in time I’m enjoying the ride and plan to carry on. I want to thank my friends for their words of encouragement, new blogger friends for their advice, followers for comments and re-shares. I appreciate you all and giving me a massive confidence boost when I’ve needed it most. Thank you.

 

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Postnatal depression, the silent illness.

Since I’ve finally had the courage to come out about my postnatal depression hell, I’ve had so many people either tell me they have had it themselves or that they had no idea I was struggling. Unless you are close by it is really hard to see how much someone is struggling. For me I buried and hid it well and even didn’t admit it myself for five months, but on the inside I was at breaking point.

I feel so overwhelmed with how many people who have contacted me telling me they have also been through this terrible illness and from people who have said they have found comfort in what I have written. This blog was very much about me writing for me, but it has turned into so much more. This blog is now about offering support and letting other mums know they are not alone in this struggle. I don’t have the cure and I am very much still fighting, but I am working through the highs and the lows, which I share with you all.  I will do everything I can to try and lift the stigma associated with having postnatal depression and remind us all we are not alone and we should never feel ashamed of something we have no control over.

My biggest turning point was after reading into the chemical changes in our brains which can cause depression. For me to see it in black and white that it wasn’t my fault it was a relief. I had an a stressful pregnancy, low iron levels and a reflux baby, so for me to look back now I’m really not surprised I did struggle. It is tough to have a new baby and so easy to become isolated and I now look back and I accept that there was nothing I could have done differently.

Postnatal depression has put me in a consuming world of guilt and failure, but it has also taught me so much about myself. I am thankful that I’ve had to take the time to understand how I work and learnt how to be kinder on myself. Something else I’ve learnt is mindfulness which I do try and practise regularly and the improvements are amazing. It’s so important we look after ourselves within as we do on the outside.

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I nurture myself so I can nurture others.

Most the time I am my own worse enemy. I can be so hard on myself and make myself feel guilty when I know I shouldn’t. I’ve been having a hard week this week and I forgot to take care of my mental wellbeing and I can now feel the effects. I’m exhausted but I can’t sleep and again feel detached and not present. I’m so fortunate to have friends that understand me and notice the patterns in my behaviour. My friends have been checking in on me this week and just being supportive of me.

I’m so exhausted but I know this is just temporary and that I can get back out of this soon. I know I have a pattern of self sabotage when things seem to good for me and that is because I don’t feel like I deserve it as I have issues with my self esteem.  I forget at times and take far too much on and become overwhelmed which just leads me to be unable to cope with everyday situations and I start doubting myself as a parent and as a person. It’s a vicious cycle as the more overwhelmed I get the harder I am on my self and the more I isolate myself which then leads to me becoming more anxious and depressed.

Since my diagnosis and my road to recover I have learnt so much about how my mind works and can now spot my patterns in behaviour. I am going to be easier on myself and get rest when I can and stop beating myself up for not being my best. I cannot be the best me and best mother without rest and without time on my own which is nothing to feel guilty about. My wellbeing is important and I need to remember this. Sometimes I need to take a step back and look at who I really am as a person. I know deep down I am a happy, kind and confident person I just need to nurture myself to bring that side out and push the negative away.

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Losing your identity as a mother.

For me learning to let go of guilt is something I really struggle with, but I know I need to address this and except that I am doing everything I can. When we become mothers I think we often forget how to be anything other than this and we feel guilty wanting to be anything else. I’ve lost my identity along the way and have forgotten what I deserve and what I need as an individual. Since my first came along I have only really met my basic needs and haven’t spent the time focusing on my own wellbeing.  I not only look after and raise two children, I also keep the house clean, every one and everything organised and I work part-time. I forgot to appreciate that I am doing a pretty good job and I deserve time to myself and I also deserve to be treated as someone who isn’t just mum.

Parenting when there are two parents in the home should be a team effort but at times I feel like I am the one who is parenting and I am in fact looking after three children. My husband works long hours but I think he often forgets that I am not his mother and he needs to look after himself at times and not expect me to do it all for him. I also need to remember my husband needs his wife and at times I am not just mum. It’s so easy to forget our identities and that we can play different roles in the house, especially when the children are so young and we fall into traps of only meeting their needs. It isn’t a competition on who is more tired and who’s job is harder or a game of tit for tat.

We need to take time to be by ourselves individually and as a couple as often as possible and be open with our emotions. We shouldn’t be ashamed to admit that we miss our partners or that we need for them to emotionally connect with us. These problems will never reslove and will just escalate and turn to resentment unless we can communicate and be honest. I know I sit down and ask my daughter why she is upset and what emotions she is feeling so I can understand her and meet her needs, so why don’t we do this with our partners? We need to not forget how to be wives when we become mothers whilst men need to remember to treat us as our partners and not their mothers. I made a promise to my husband the day we got married and I think it’s time to revisit those vows and remember why we are here.

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