Somewhere along the line in my parenting journey I lost a lot of confidence and gained a shit load of anxiety.
Despite being a beautiful soul, my six-year-old son Brody is unpredictable and has no danger awareness due to an undiagnosed genetic condition, autism and a learning disability. Because of this, there have been many heart-in-mouth moments for me over the past six years. Thanks to the trusty helicopter parenting technique, he has thankfully had a lot more near misses than accidents. But I’m only human and sometimes I take my eye off of the ball for a second or I’m not quick enough. And it that second, anything could happen.
The thought of exactly that – what could happen in that second - is all-consuming.
I hate to admit it, but I feel anxious taking Brody out on my own. My fear, coupled with my annoying, need-to-get-over-it, ability to get upset/angry/uncomfortable/sad at strangers with their looks and occasional comments – is not a good combo.
When my daughter Sydney came along three years ago, I knew I would struggle to do things on my own with them both. Partly because of my anxiety and partly because I knew that I would be unable to keep them both safe, which of course is paramount.
So when flying solo, I became a bit of a stuck-at-home mum. I could handle this but it admittedly stung if people would question my reasoning for not doing things on my own with them both. We live in a house comparable to Fort Knox where I can actually sit down and breathe. My kids are both safe. There’s literally no place like home.
My going out motto is power in numbers. If someone else is there, everything just feels doable.
The wheelchair and the buggy.
The Brody meltdowns and the Sydney toddler tantrums.
The unpredictable behaviour.
The ability of one and the inability of another.
The stares and the judgement (admittedly sometimes all in my head).
My overthinking, overanalysing brain.
I can read this back and think that I sound like a ridiculous, shit mum. And I can read it back and think that I sound perfectly reasonable, my feelings justified.
I’m not sure which is true. But I know I’m limited on the number of those who will get what I’m on about. It has chipped away at me. Whether I’m just not very good at being their mum as I want to be. Why others appear to manage and I don’t (I know, maybe they don’t either). But a few days ago, I took a leap of faith, it paid off and it felt amazing.
Two weeks into the Scottish summer holidays, I decided to let go of my fears and take a trip to the supermarket (trust me, I’m aware of how ridiculous this sounds).
I didn’t risk walking into the store with them both and the specialist trolley not being available (good job, it wasn’t) and I put Brody into his wheelchair whilst Sydney walked. She complied. He complied. And we even found baskets with long handles and wheels at the entrance that could be pulled along. Ha, a sign!
We came, we bought and we conquered.
All of a sudden I feel like maybe this will get easier.
All of a sudden I feel like I will get my confidence back.
All of a sudden I feel like I will stop doubting – myself, others, our situation – and every now again, I will take that leap of faith and it will be okay.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” (Martin Luther King Jr).