Taking responsibility, and making the necessary changes to correct a situation, requires one to step back sometimes to say "this isn't good enough". Recently I have thought to myself on many occasions, I must take the boys to see their mum's special place but having the idea in your head for months is one thing, making it happen, a simple exercise that brings many benefits to the boys, is another.
We all put things off, continuing in a similar pattern, knowing we should be doing 'something' but struggle to 'do' what needs to be done. Until that is, the choice (because all but illness is a choice) is taken from you and inevitably something 'gives' and the problem is exposed leaving you with no choice but to face up to facts.
The facts were sadly apparent for me last week when an incident which involved Freddy losing his temper in the lesson after he had a counselling session with Relate led to him being excused from school for a short period. Instead of being cross I knew that this aggression, something quite out of character, was not from a place of disobedience or petulance but from a place of frustration and sadness caused by his grief, the very thing I'm supposed to be helping him and his brother disperse and manage.
I instantly felt responsible, this flare up would have no doubt been avoided if Mum was kept 'on the table' over the last six months, which as I have always advocated as vital, instead of under the carpet which is inexcusable as I know it will not help the management of their grief in the long or short term.
I summarised my thoughts in a tweet that day: "I'm grateful that after a tricky day as a parent I'm focusing on the solutions and not problems". I mean the problem has happened so there's nothing we can do about it now, other than to look forward and establish what needs to change about the way we remember Mum and the regularity with which that happens.
I had felt like I had been too focused on my recent training and qualification as a life coach to see the bad habits form. While it's wonderful to be in a position to help others through coaching, I was reminded I must keep my children's needs the priority. While it may sound like my new direction was affecting my priorities it's the resource that I will always turn to in any situation that requires any thought and clarification.
I turned to my comecoachwithme.com colleague, Lydia Wild, for a coaching session, an hour focused on Bobby and Freddy and my ability to help them cope with the build-up of all the worst feelings and emotions that grief generates so that my children do not have to be 'angry' with life. Lydia is a fantastic coach and helped me quickly establish plans to make them feel as close to their mother's memory as they can.
In no time at all I had planned a gesture to mummy on Christmas day which would help them show they are thinking of her on what is typically a very difficult occasion for them, especially after the initial excitement of opening some presents wears off. I had planned to take them to Jade's special place once a month on, or as close as possible to, a particular day each month.
We would have a family meeting once a week where we discuss any issues or plan any activities ensuring mummy is brought up and discussed in whichever way they choose. I also thought it would be nice to invite Jade's mother Jackiey over to stay once every month, the boys love her immensely and she's the only prominent blood related link to their Mum they have so I think this is particularly important.
In a similar vein, the boys godmothers, and Jades best friends, Jennifer and Kelly are important to the boys because when they are amongst that group, they feel like they are with their mum. Life has a habit of moving so quickly and we are all guilty of forgetting that the little effort it takes to arrange something goes so much further than we think.
I've had a great relationship with Grief Encounter over the past five years but I have stopped taking the boys to their events which have previously enabled them to reap the benefits of being around other bereaved children, helping them to avoid feeling lonely in grief and enabling them to make friends with others who truly understand how they are feeling. This is certainly something I will reinstate along with the regular updating of photos of Mum around the house.
The boys met with their dog, Batman, a few months ago and naturally it took them back. The little sausage dog was passed to Jade's neighbour over six years ago and I will contact her again to arrange another meeting for the boys because I'm sure it was helpful and constructive.
Lastly, and possibly the most wonderful thing I could think of doing for them, was a scrapbook of photos of their mum telling them the kindest story of her life and also one that would tell them of how far they have come since they lost her, so that they can feel proud and strong in the details of their achievements.
It's great to have ideas but the coaching is also about committing to those actions so in the coming few days I'll be contacting all in order to get those visits and gestures put in place so they can move forward positively, Freddy can feel less bottled-up and I can feel like I'm on top of things again.
I guess my situation speaks for many, if you take bereavement out of the equation we are all just parents trying to do our best to juggle everything without dropping a ball. Sometimes you have to just put them down for a minute, stretch your back out and then go again!
Keeping the many facets of our lives going is a great and progressively more common achievement that we have little choice but to challenge ourselves with. However, if you are not paying attention to the areas of your life that matter the most then in the end the success is found to be hollow because we dropped the ball that matters the most. The easiest to forgive is the easiest to overlook. For the love of my children I won't be making that mistake again.