I was amazed and very proud of my daughter, a few weeks ago, as we sat discussing her progress on her two- year college course. She is currently studying a mix of A’ levels and BTECs. But it was her comment on her Summer exams that floored me, and I’m paraphrasing here; ‘if I don’t do well, I can retake. I’m not going to worry about the outcome too much.’
Now before you all write in to put me straight, let me point out; clearly, I would prefer she does well and is happy with her result. Before GCSEs, both my husband and I encouraged her to put in the work, rather than worry about the outcome. To hear this from a little girl who was always petrified of failure is a huge step forward. As her mum, I am hugely relieved to hear she has a plan B and whatever happens, we’ll both be there to support her.
Thinking now about what I’ve learnt from being a mum, here is my list with both the serious and the not so serious:
First things first, despite tummy bugs, infections and sickness, the preschool years were a walk in the park.
‘Mummy I have a tummy ache,’ ninety-nine per cent of the time all that was required was a trip to the loo.
I learnt to cope with just about anything that emerged from either end, through sickness or illness. I was amazed at what I could get on and do when I had to.
You will be hijacked by your emotions when you least expect it. I remember bursting into tears, when our daughter emerged on the stage as a star in her preschool, Nativity. I then laughed as the star I’d made for her started to slip off her back.
‘Mum, I am bored is not a cue for me to leap about providing entertainment. The ability to manage boredom is a much under-rated skill.
You feel their pain when they are upset and hurting.
There were times when I needed to act as a buffer between her and the rest of the world, school and life in general. To give her the time and space, she needed to just ‘be’.
When I needed to step in and play, ‘bad cop’, and say ‘no,’ on her behalf. There is at least one P.E. teacher who is still probably shaking her head at the mention of my name.
That I can start to relax a little and let go of some of my anxiety. In the early days, I always felt I needed to be especially alert and watchful over her.
I’d fight to the death for her. But I can’t fight all her battles, as she matures and grows I will need to step back and allow her to face the consequences of some of her actions.
That I’m tougher in certain situations than I thought and will hold it together if I perceive that my daughter needs me to be firm and clear, interestingly I am noticing this in my work with vulnerable young women.
I need to ‘pick my battles’, know when I need to stand firm and when to simply, ‘let it go.’ In the past, more experienced mums have said to me, ‘you will not have the time and energy to fight everything, decide on your priorities and stick to them.’
Our children seem particularly anxious again, something that is not helped by social media. There have been times when I had to say, ‘if they are not friends with you in the real world, they are not your friend in the virtual one.’
Not everything is a drama; I don’t always need to get swept up in it all.
I am far more interested in her resilience and her ability to persevere than her exam grades which will always be relatively short-lived.
Being consistent is helpful, I am consistently ‘grumpy mum’ as far as my daughter is concerned, but I am there for her, and I think she knows that.
Get the help you need when you need it. There is no shame in bringing in professional help.
And my final lesson:
Our daughter is a beautiful gift, pure and simple.
So, there you have it
Until next time