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This latest teething stint is finally behind us (yippee!) but Henry and I have both been unwell. Alas, the sleep deprivation has continued.
Sleep deprivation does crazy things to a person (that’s why it’s used as a form of torture!) Last week, we went to the doctor and they asked for Henry’s last name – I forgot what it was. No joke. When we got home, I got out of the car but forgot to turn it off and get Henry out. I’d poured a glass of water before I realised he was still in the garage. Humorous aspects aside, when you’re sleep deprived, that’s when things fall apart - both physically and emotionally.
Mum came to visit yesterday and I was really looking forward to it. I started the day off feeling energised and happy. She walked through my door, and I felt like bawling my eyes out. What the!? Brain what are you doing?! I thought. I realised it was just relief and those tears disappeared before they reached the ducts.
We spent the day shopping. Throughout the day, I vented some worries, doubts and questions about motherhood. Mum validated how I was feeling. She assured me that every mother feels the way I do at some point. She made me laugh. She renewed the faith I have in my ability to do things on my own, while also reminding me I’m not alone. I felt like crying a few times, not because I was sad but because I was just so relieved because she totally gets it!
There’s a pattern with my parenting. The worries and doubts creep in when I’m tired. I know that when I’m tired, I just need to be kind to myself, let it sit with me and know that it won’t last forever. Also, the only time I seem to ask for help is when I’m tired. It’s the support that I receive during these times, particularly yesterday, that teaches me things.
Yesterday I was reminded that one of the greatest gifts a mother can give her child is to be their sanctuary. A sanctuary is a refuge; a place of safety; a retreat.
I look back on my own childhood and it’s not the possessions I treasured. I had no appreciation for how much the clothing, the toys and the family holidays cost. I didn’t notice (or care) whether the house was clean or messy. I don’t remember how many minutes a day my parents spent playing with me on the floor. I can’t recall a lot of the things we did growing up. I couldn’t tell you on which days my mum was exhausted and on which days she wasn’t.
What I can recall is how my parents made me feel because these feelings have stayed with me all my life. Yesterday, a realisation smacked me square in the face: my parents have always provided me with a sanctuary.
I haven’t lived a single day doubting my parents love for me. I’m one of the lucky ones in this respect, I’m well aware. My parents’ metaphorical doors have literally never been closed. I’ve never felt unloved or unworthy in their eyes. They’ve never bullied or belittled me. They’ve never made me feel unsafe. I’ve felt these things in the big wide world, but never in my relationships with my parents.
I want Henry to feel and be vulnerable in relationships, to feel out of his depth at times, to experience fear, to grieve when life calls for it, to be confronted by self-doubt. I want his trust broken within reason, for him to see what anger looks like and to know love doesn’t always prevail. That’s what will shape him and teach him his limits.
Through it all though, I want to be Henry’s sanctuary: his refuge, his place of safety and his retreat - for all things, great and small.
It is not until this sanctuary is well developed that I will tell Henry I forgot his name and left him behind in the car.
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.