One of the things I love about having a blog is the people I’ve met. Suzy Lyons has a blog called In the Lyons Den and writes about her experiences as an imperfect mum juggling the balance of life and kids, winging it all as she goes. She so kindly wrote this post for me about how it feels when your own fears cross paths with your children.
There are often moments in the day, or through the week or sometimes just all the time that I feel I let my children down. You name it, I have yelled too much, not paid enough attention, looked at my phone too much or just done stuff that bloody well needs doing and then felt guilty about it.
Unfortunately, us mothers worry about this stuff on a regular basis. I know I constantly judge myself and sometimes are my own worst enemy. I think about myself as a mother, but I also have my own insecurities and little niggles that sometimes bubble their way to the surface. We are all about making our kids feel secure, but sometimes I don’t feel secure.
In saying that I had a moment last week that I really felt down. My own fears let my children down. I had promised my little/big boy for his birthday we could do his wish to go up Sydney Eye Tower. For those of you who don’t know the Eye Tower is one of the tallest structures in the Southern Hemisphere. It is 309 metres tall to be precise. He said to me but mummy you don’t like heights and I said; “I will do it for you.”
The Google Dictionary states that the definition of vertigo is “a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; giddiness.”
I have this and quite badly. I have also found that it gets worse as I get older. I have never actually felt anxiety or been an overly anxious person but as I get older I find that if I am in a situation where I have to tackle something like this and it is height related, like flying or certain walks.
I completely freak out and get stressed and very anxious. I build it up for days in my mind. I need 3 vodka shots to get me on a plane but surprisingly I do it because I know I can’t let it consume my life and stop me from doing things.
On this day I was determined for my little man to see that I could overcome fear and that if you put your mind to something you can work through it.
I thought this would be a great life lesson to teach him and a few days prior gave myself a big pat on the back for thinking so. That morning little man had come into our bed early and we had cuddled for a few hours. It started going through my mind. The lift ride up, how long that would be, the feeling of going up, how much I would start sweating and then how high I would be off the ground. I tried to put it to the back of my mind and think of Sam.
As it was, I then as usual am quite grumpy and snappy with the kids when I am stressed and anxious and did have a few moments I had to reign myself in. This was Sam’s day, his choice of activity and we were doing it as a family.
But then as life would have it, I got there and looked up at this huge tower and started freaking out. It was so, so tall. I got that feeling, I started sweating and I really, really didn’t want to do it. I knew if I went up I wouldn’t be happy, I wouldn’t make the experience fun and would talk with gritted teeth. As it went, my husband made a comment about the cost and all of a sudden I had an out. I started to relax, to enjoy walking through the city and into the building. We couldn’t find the entrance but it didn’t matter I had an out.
I didn’t do it, he was upset momentarily because I wasn’t coming up. I was upset. I let him down and I let myself down. What a wimp. I was just showing him and teaching him it was okay to back out, it was okay to give in to your fears and I was furious with myself. I know that not all things you back out of are cut and dry and obviously some things are completely okay to back out of, but in this case, I felt like I hadn’t actually really tried hard enough. If you try to back out of something, at least you gave it a shot. I didn’t even try.
I wanted him to see the sweat and the stress so he could see I was giving it go, because in my head it was just a tower. I wasn’t jumping into a bear cage so in my mind I gave up too easily and that’s why I was angry.
I also missed out on the experience of sharing something special with him that he really wanted to enjoy. I just got to hear about it afterwards, after I sat and ate lunch on my own. I apologised to him and said I felt I had let him down and was sorry. He told me “it’s okay mummy, but next time will you come up?” My immediate to him was “yes, absolutely” while in my mind I knew that I would have a hip flask with a double vodka involved that would get me through. I know, I know. But I am not going to beat myself up over that as well!! Not today!
Anyone who has suffered from anxiety or fear will understand that thoroughly intense feeling that overwhelms you and you can’t shake it. It consumes you and almost turns you into a different person.
I know that in life little man will do lots of things without me and have many amazing moments without me there sharing it all. This is just one and there will be more all through his life. I just needed to write about how I felt.
This will lead me to tomorrow write a post on all the amazing ways I am a mum because I am a good mum and the day after will be finding ways, other than vodka, to deal with when I feel anxious and particularly have to deal with heights.
Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward towards finding an answer.