Self care

Gratitude is what gets me through the darkest days

Last week was one of the toughest weeks I’ve had as a mum. Henry is teething. He’s got four top teeth coming through at the same time. He’s been miserable. He’s been in pain. He’s had diarrhoea. He’s had a fever. His sinuses are blocked and he can’t breathe properly. I’ve hardly slept. No-one tells you how horrible teething is.

It all came to a head on Friday. I was sitting on the rug with Henry on my lap. He was whinging. It didn’t matter what I did that day; he whinged. I ended up just balling my eyes out. Henry looked up at me and smiled. I paused and thought to myself wow, does he really understand that I’m upset right now? He then smiled and hit me in the face. Guess not, I thought. I laughed, but was then a blubbering mess again.

I honestly couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was sleep deprived and I felt depressed. I couldn’t muster the energy to play with Henry like I normally do. I didn’t want to burden Sam because he was having a big week at work. My anxiety kicked in. I felt guilty about not coping, well aware that I’m not the only mum who has struggled with teething. It won’t last forever, I reminded myself. But when you’ve been up every 2 hours or less for days on end, every hour feels like forever.

Sam called me on Friday to see how I was. I said I was okay and tried to be upbeat. I didn’t tell him I’d been crying all day. I absolutely didn’t want to be crying when he got home from work, so I decided to put Henry in the pouch and walk on the beach. A walk always does wonders.

Henry loved it. He made noises of delight the whole time. We saw rabbits. We saw people. We watched the surfers. We played with rocks and shells. I sang to him (he’s the only one who likes it). I talked to him constantly. The sun was out. I was feeling great again.

We got home and I sat down to take the pouch off. The whinging resumed instantly. So did my tears.

I put Henry down for his nap and took a breath. I can’t do this anymore, I thought. But I was determined to pull myself together before Sam got home; it was the start of the weekend after all.

Sam arrived home a while later. He was carrying a giant bunch of flowers. He gave them to me and proudly reported he’d chosen the best bunch. He also handed me a beautifully wrapped candle, excited to report he’d found a new local brand that he knew I’d love.

I asked what the presents were for.  He said that he could sense I’d been crying on the phone. He said I’ve been doing an amazing job with Henry. He said that he knew how hard my week had been, and not to worry because it was the weekend now and he was there to help for 48 hours straight. He said that he knows there are a lot of things he can’t do with Henry (like the night feeds) but that he will do whatever he can to share the load. My heart sang.

I felt uplifted, relieved, assured, supported and loved. I’m normally not a fan of flowers; I think they’re a waste of money… but I’ve smiled every time I’ve looked at this bunch.

I was reminded last week that there’s always a silver lining (and I’m not just talking about the gifts!). On the darkest days, there’s always something to be grateful for. For me, practising gratitude at these times is what gets me through them.

I’m grateful that Henry isn’t affected by my dark days; that he smiles, coos, chatters, giggles and loves me regardless. I’m grateful that I have a husband who chooses to be devoted, loving, positive and empathic even when it’s not convenient. I’m grateful that I live in an area where I can just walk to the beach; the place that energises and inspires me. I’m grateful that I have family members on my side and Sam’s side that are wholly invested in supporting us; who are fun, kind, generous and down to earth. I’m grateful for neighbours who are like family. I’m grateful that we’re all in good health and that we can afford to live comfortably.

For so many of us, our dilemmas usually relate to having to choose between two good things. Do we see friends this weekend or do we spend the weekend away somewhere nice?  Do we cook a delicious meal at home or do we dine out? Should we go to the beach or to the park? Do we watch TV or do we play a game on our phone?  Do we ‘treat’ ourselves to a café coffee or do we settle for a coffee pot at home?

My baby is teething. I’m exhausted. But it’s not the end of the world; it’s just part of it.

I am enormously grateful that even on my darkest days, I know there’s light coming in from so many different angles. I see the dark days as being like a kaleidoscope – you need the dark parts to illuminate the colourful ones, and all it takes is a slight adjustment to see the picture from a different perspective.

Beth x

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