Motherhood and the fear of making mistakes

Last week in a moment of deep reflection, I realised that I have a profound fear of making mistakes. It feels funny to me that I hadn’t realised it previously but the thing with our fears is that usually until we work to unpick them, our fears manifest in our real life as some of our more unwanted habits or behaviours. For me, the fear of making mistakes manifests as procrastination. I procrastinate because that protects me from making mistakes.

Several months back I took an online quiz to discover my fear archetype having listened to Ruth Soukup’s podcast series called, “doing it scared.” The results were a little, “yes, that’s pretty much what I expected,” and so I parked the idea and didn’t think I’d particularly learnt anything new about myself, as I so often seek to do. But then something seemingly insignificant happened whilst I was at work the other day and I was suddenly floored by my realisation that perhaps these quiz results were perhaps a lot more revealing than I’d first led myself to believe. According to the quiz, procrastination manifests as the fear of imperfection, preferring not to do something at all than to risk it not being perfect. I’ve never been much of a perfectionist at anything which is perhaps why this label didn’t resonate with me at first but what does resonate with me is that I put off doing things that I want to and should do because I’m fearful of making mistakes.

Motherhood has opened up a rather daunting portal into my own childhood, my experiences and my upbringing, both the good and the bad. Looking at my inner child, I can see where some of this fear may come from. Perhaps it’s the inherent people-pleaser in me, the child (turn adult) who seeks to please others through their actions, who longs for praise and acceptance and who strives to make others proud before herself. Or perhaps it’s those times at school where I didn’t know the answers and having been put on the spot for an uncomfortable minute too long, I burst into tears in front of everyone, to release my emotions, the fear of being wrong (and therefore being told off /criticised/reported on) paralysing me into a state of discomfort unparalleled by much else. Perhaps too, there were times when I did indeed make some big mistakes as a child and the feeling of disappointment that I sensed from someone else led me to want to avoid that being repeated. I need to go deeper here, to explore the route cause of this fear but for now, I’m just happy to have joined some of the dots and worked out some of the puzzle.

I procrastinate so much in life and literally always have done, that it drives me (and my husband) pretty mad. I’m working on it, and I’ve made a lot of positive changes this year but I guess sometimes, in order to make the biggest changes of all, we have to truly understand the reasons why we have our “bad” habits because the release of fear is in the discovery of why the fear exists.

This fear of making mistakes is the reason I haven’t written more blog posts, despite more than 30 sitting in my drafts. This fear of making mistakes is why I haven’t taken steps towards starting a podcast yet even though perhaps I could have made the time to. This fear of making mistakes is why I agonised for weeks over deciding which new nursery to send the girls to because I just didn’t want to get it wrong.  This fear of making mistakes is why I dwell on the times when things haven’t gone right in Motherhood because I’m scared that somehow, I’ve messed up.

The responsibility of raising babies is heaped with opportunities to make mistakes. Of course, as parents, we will all inevitably make mistakes but sometimes the fear of doing so is so consuming. The fear and worry of not being good enough. The fear of one day being blamed and resented. The fear and worry of not raising kids to be able to manage everything life throws at them. The fear and worry that comes with every decision you make along the way and with that fear of making mistakes, the hope and knowledge that everything will probably be just fine!

So what can I do with my fear now I know why and how it exists? I can be more mindful about it, notice it and not fuel it. Action is the antidote to fear. A life lived to please other people is no life at all. A life lived to be of benefit to other people, is quite a different story.

 

 


Moving house, a lesson in saying Goodbye. 

Four and a half year ago when Ben and I bought our first home together, newly-ish married and full of young naivety about the world and our future, I couldn’t have dreamt of the happiness that was due to come our way and I couldn’t have imagined how at least ten years worth of our lives would appear to squash themselves into just four (and a bit). I couldn’t have dreamt about my two girls, Jasmine and Summer, and all the joy they have brought into my life. I couldn’t have dreamt about how it would feel to bring my first baby home from the hospital and through the door of our home, to start my life as a Mother and our life together as parents. I couldn’t have dreamt of the smiles and the laughter that would come from watching our child grow, through all the first times and proud moments and through all the tears and the sleepless nights. I like to think that the walls have watched us all grow up, soaking up all the love they’ve seen here, all the good energy and all the happy moments. I like to think they’ll hold onto that goodness forever, and sprinkle those happy sparkles onto anyone who needs it next.

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I couldn’t have dreamt of the deep heartache and pain that losing a baby here would bring upon us too. This home was my anchor, my safe place to grieve and cry but also get me back up and it supported me in more ways than one. I couldn’t have dreamt that I would ever, ever, then welcome another baby into our family, whose first breath was taken in this home, in the very room where we have grown together as a family and shared almost every single day. That little baby girl has once again brought me back closer to home as babies do when they’re so small. I couldn’t have imagined the ripples of joy that would wave through my body as I watch two sisters laugh together, giddy with glee, pure with childhood wonder. I couldn’t have dreamt how watching them could be enough to stop me in my tracks, to bow down in gratitude and know that if nothing else, my world and my heart are full to the brim. I couldn’t have dreamt up the half of it, probably not even a fraction and back then I was probably too scared to dare to dream this big.

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Summer, born at home

Now I’m here, surrounded by boxes, all of our things wrapped and ready to go. I’m staring at empty shelves and empty walls, where special photos used to hang and filled jars used to stand, the very items that became part of our everyday environment yet that become strangely unnoticeable over time. They’re noticeable now that they’re no longer here. I can see the marks on the wall where Jasmine has rubbed her sticky hands whilst carefully climbing the stairs and I can see those little holes where we hammered in nails, trying to get frames to lay straight before giving up and getting on with more important things in life, never ones to have been good at DIY. So now as we prepare to bid our home farewell, I sit with the comfort that we are taking our memories with us, that they are not lost but merely traveling too. But with that comfort, there’s an ache in my heart. It hurts my heart to think that Jasmine and Summer won’t remember this house and the way they chased each other along the corridor upstairs or fought over toys in the living room. They won’t remember their garden and the games that we played and they won’t remember their birthday parties and the family celebrations we held in their honour. They won’t remember the baths we took and the snuggles we had or the cakes we baked. I know though, that they’ll remember the feelings that go hand in hand with these memories that I suppose are mostly mine. They’ll remember the warmth and the connection, the happiness and the love and those are the feelings that will be familiar to them forever. Perhaps with time, my own memories will fade too, however much I hope they won’t, I know that’s just what happens over time.

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Jasmine and Summer

This home is part of a community too, a community of neighbours (the best kind) and a wider community of friends. Friends who have held me up through the early years of Motherhood and friends whose children mean not only the world to me but to Jasmine and Summer too. Children who have played here and snacked here and smiled at me at the door. Children who Jasmine calls her best friends and who I wish we could stay close to forever.

Tomorrow is the start of a new and exciting chapter in all of our lives and I feel so grateful for every moment we’ve had the privilege to spend in our first family home. I’ll miss doing yoga under the skylights and I’ll miss sitting on the stairs taking deep breaths having finally got both girls down to sleep. I’ll miss things I won’t even know I’ll miss until we’re gone but I’ll notice those moments and I’ll stop to realise that we only miss things that once meant so much to us.

Farewell, lovely home,

Take good care.

 


My wildest dreams

Last night I opened my journal and I wrote down 30 of the wildest dreams that I want to manifest for my life. I was inspired to do this exercise after listening to a podcast about how writing our dreams down with pen and paper and then taking actionable steps towards them can actually help to make our dreams a reality.

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Motherhood and the phenomenon of time

Time changes our children at a remarkable rate and time replaces our memories that were once so vivid with ones that have now become a little hazy, much to our disbelief.  Time changes the appearance of our children too. Longer hair, longer legs, a bigger smile. It fulfils for us a wish we made when they were babies, when we could only begin to imagine how they’d be as they grew and what a delight this change is to behold.

As our children approach their next birthday and become a year older, it becomes harder to remember them before, with the newer version of them forever replacing the older one even though really, they’re still the same. Layer upon layer builds up, each day providing new joys, new memories and new things to absorb. Do we have endless capacity to remember each and every change?

Photos and videos we took provide a heartwarming and beautiful way to remember times gone by yet also make us question how we let these moments pass and how, maybe, we didn’t realise then just how magical they were. Or maybe we did? We document first steps, first words, first birthdays, first shoes and first moments of everything in an attempt to lock these moments in time forever because otherwise, they just vanish. We can’t trust that our memories alone will stand the test of time in years to come.

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Newborn Jasmine

Time is a constant in our world and it is always moving forward, never stopping. A second will always be as long as a second has always been and a day, the same length too. Yet on some days time seems to stretch and drag and on others it races us to the finish line. Time reminds us that nothing, be it good or bad, lasts forever.

Time confuses our minds into feeling that the numbers can’t be true. “How can that have happened a year ago?” we ask, our minds searching to make sense of this confusion.  Our brains scramble that this week marks the start of year three of parenting yet day one feels like yesterday and in an instant we are stunned by how much time has passed, the proof being the child stood before us.

Time passing is a reminder of the need to slow down, to pause and to breathe and to take things in just as they are but then we remember that “slowing down” is simply a perception too because time waits for no man. Memories don’t stay as vivid as we believe they will. Not all memories anyway. The details slip away. What age they did that and what age they did this. Some of it is foggy now, not that it matters I suppose, as long as the memory itself still exists. It’s just scary how passing time makes us forget, isn’t it?

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Jasmine at 16 months, appearing to me now to be just a baby

Our children are constantly growing, blooming and changing at a far greater rate than we are, even though we grow as they do. Our child today, at nearly 3 is the same child she was at 2 because she was destined to be this way but who she is now was impossible to know as time doesn’t allow us to truly see into the future but just to live project forward using imagination.

Time makes things appear differently depending from where, or when, we are viewing them. Our once “so grown up” two year old now seems so baby-like to look back on. So small, so sweet and so young. At the time she’d never been as big as in that moment and so in that moment, that’s how she was. Now we are in a different time and therefore my view of that same child is warped and we are confronted with feelings of longing for that once so small child.

This childhood. This precious time of which parents so often speak. It is going so quickly though the speed of time has never changed. It is yet another perception. An interfering emotion. A desire to be able to hold on a little tighter to feelings and moments so that time doesn’t dissolve them as it so cruelly does and perhaps a desire too to speed things up sometimes, the long days, the hard bits, the not-so-fun moments.

We long for a way to be able to hold moments in time forever. That cuddle with arms wrapped round wide, that kiss on the soft and still chubby cheeks, that sweet and curious voice. We don’t want to forget that sentence that made us chuckle or that question that in it’s innocence made us momentarily remember childhood ourselves. Time allows our children to learn, to make sense of the world a little bit more each day. Time gives them the ability to experience life, moment by moment.

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Jasmine, one year ago today

Will time allow us to remember it all, to lock it up forever and have it all to look back on? The sacred details of the most wonderful moments that are a struggle to recall nowadays. Time often seems to be rushing us and it’s hard to keep up. It is the most precious commodity, each day only providing a finite amount, urging us in this quiet way to learn to live fully.

Time gifts us so much and is the gift that keeps on giving. Every day we are granted another day to Mother, to parent, to love and to laugh and to marvel at the funny games time plays with our minds. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds to use as we please. Every day our children live so presently as we, the adults, dart back and forth between past, present and future, forgetting so often that the only time that is truly ever guaranteed, is now.



Creativity in Motherhood

I’ve never considered myself much of a creative person. I’m the one drawing stick people and a house whilst my husband Ben is sketching faces full of character. I’m just no good at drawing and whilst I appreciate so many forms of creativity, “creative” has just never been an adjective I would have used to describe myself. Read More


To the lady who made my daughter cry

Dear unknown lady who made my daughter cry,

I do understand that what you did had good intentions, that you didn’t set out to make my daughter cry and that you were trying to be helpful. I do understand that it wasn’t the most convenient thing for my two year old to want to walk independently down the stairs of Oxford Circus Underground station by herself, at her two year old, slower-than-average pace, at a busy time of day on New Years Eve. She wanted to navigate those stairs by herself and why shouldn’t she, seeing as she does all other stairs by herself all day long. On top of that, her father and I had our hands full carrying her baby sister in the buggy downstairs because there’s no lift access at many of London’s major tube stations. Read More