For about three seconds in 2005 (the year I became a mum) I thought I could be a SuperMum.
It didn’t last long.
Unfortunately, I spent a few years trying to pretend to be a Supermum. Every morning I donned my Lycra suit and tried to trick everyone into thinking I’m Superman.
Having a son with severe disabilities meant my to-do list was immense. Soon busyness became a badge of honour and before long my days were devoid of any rest or time to myself.
I wasn’t Superman – I wasn’t super-anything.
I knew things weren’t right when I found myself choosing ankle socks instead of knee length, because they took less time to put on. Breakfast became any food consumed before midday and before long PIPs had nothing to do with an independence allowance but a much coveted ‘Poo In Peace’.
When I looked around I realised I had tied up my worth as a woman and mother in all the things I did. But I didn’t value what I did enough, so I tried to do more of it to compensate.
I realise I’m not alone
Slipping into a role where my needs are bottom of the list is not unique. Yet I know that the pressure of therapies, anxieties about the future and endless medical appointments make caring for my eldest son a different kind of hard. In comparison, looking after my other two children is a walk in the park. That isn’t to say it is easy (it’s a very muddy and hilly park), but it isn’t the same kind of challenge.
But what makes this whole parenting thing much more difficult, isn’t the appointments or physiotherapy. It isn’t even the waking through the night for a decade – it is the potential guilt and regret.
It is like walking around with a backpack full of ‘What ifs?’
What if I didn’t do postural care early enough?
What if it is because I haven’t stimulated his vision that his sight isn’t progressing?
What if being too tired to use the standing frame will mean he has to have a major hip operation?
What if someone had told me about this specialist therapy earlier, maybe it would have made a bigger difference?
What if I will never be enough of a mother?
The truth is, I can’t answer the ‘What ifs?’, no-one can. Because they are simply little rabbit warrens that lead to nowhere helpful. They just get deeper and darker and further away from the light. If we aren’t careful the load becomes unyielding and our expectations have no foundation in reality.
So, here is my alternative ‘What if?’
If my son is no longer with me, will I regret not stimulating his sight or will I regret not taking more care of myself and simply relaxing in his company?
Maybe I’ve been asking the wrong ‘What ifs?’ all along.
And there is something else I noticed when I looked in the mirror.
I only have two hands
No matter how many times I count – there are still only two.
And here are some other truths
I can only do my best with the information I have.
The day only has twenty-four hours in it.
I’m only human.
I can’t do it all, all of the time.
Asking for help and advice is good.
I would like this not to be true. I would like the mirror to lie just a little. Because it’s hard realising you aren’t a Supermum, but then it’s good. It’s good to know that I can ask for help with lots of stuff, even postural care – a decade after my son was born.
When I had this revelation, it caused me to take a very big deep breath. And I found a freedom that comes from letting go of the lie that it is my responsibility to keep the universe intact. So, I ask for help and take it when it is offered (mostly). I try to shout over the feelings of guilt with my armour of truths.
So, why don’t you join me, take a deep breath and repeat after me.
“I’m not super-human but I am more than enough.”
Originally posted on Simple Stuff Works Blog.