So it’s 7:30pm Sunday night. It is the end of what has been a wonderful summer break from school for the kids and us. The kids are getting last bits ready for school starting in the morning. Then...
Son: “Mum, where are my school trousers?”
Me: “Oh S@$t, I forgot to collect them today from M & S!” (Looks at watch and sees store closed some hours ago).
Son: “Mum!!! Are you telling me I don’t have any trousers to go back to school in?”
Me: “Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out.”
In the background my daughter is laughing and referring to the fact that I am the most “un-mum” mum she knows these days.
Let me tell you what kind of mum I used to be 5+ years ago.
I could multi-task like a ninja and never ‘dropped the ball’ on anything, EVER. I was hyper vigilant and super organised – a complete controlling super mum. Nothing ever got forgotten or mislaid.
I consider myself a super mum in a very different way since I learnt about what it is that really creates our psychological experience. My kids can ‘feel me’ these days, the real me, that is imperfect.
Five years ago, a situation like this would likely never have happened in the first place, as my mind never relaxed. But if it did, let me paint a picture for you as to how it would probably have played out.
There would have been panic for both of us, followed by tears, again probably on both sides. There would then have been some blaming and shouting, well it had to be someone else’s fault, as I couldn’t have admitted to being a less than perfect mum (in terms of how I used to view a ‘perfect ’ mum being).
There would then have been tension and tears in the house for the rest of the evening, overnight and the next morning, and my poor son would likely have gone to school feeling wrung out with nerves and anxiety, before he even started his first day at senior school.
This is how it then played out though...
Me: “Let me see if I can find your old trousers with the hole in the knee, they can make do for the first day.” (I look but can’t find them anywhere, then vaguely recall them being thrown out at the start of the summer holidays).
Son: “Are you seriously telling me I have no trousers for school tomorrow?”
Me: “It kind of looks that way, but we’ll figure something out.” (My son laughs incredulously. I am completely calm as this is all playing out, and because of that, my son is too.)
Unplanned stuff happens in life, A LOT.
My way of coping with life’s ups and downs used to be around control. If I could control everything that life threw at me, then things would be fine because our feelings of security come from what goes on in our day-to-day life - right? - WRONG!
Our feelings come from thought in the moment and not from our circumstances, or another person, or lack of trousers.
Living in the ‘got to control everything to feel okay’ reality made me burn out and made me a not very present or connected mum. Sure I got stuff done though and nothing ever got forgotten.
BUT, when you inevitably have a lot on your mind living this way, it’s impossible for those around you to feel any love or connection. You have to be present to experience love. A busy mind has you being anything but present.
You see on that Sunday night it could have looked like emerging feelings of anxiety and worry for myself, and my son were coming from:
- My son not having any school trousers to wear on his first day of senior school
- My son looking stupid going in to school in tracksuit bottoms/jeans
- My son being told off by teachers throughout the school day or being questioned as to why he was not in full uniform
- My son not having a Mum who cared enough to get everything ready for his first day in senior school.
If either or both of us had believed any or all of the above, we would have gone into blind panic and would likely have had a whole tonne of thinking around the situation.
As it was I had a moment of “Oh S@$t, I can’t believe I forgot to collect his trousers!” But then within seconds it moved to “Oh well, we’ll figure something out.”
There was laughter from everyone in the house and then a quick search on Google to see what time M & S opened in the morning. As luck would have it, it was 8:30am, which meant we could collect the trousers on the way to school, and that is exactly what we did, with 5 minutes to spare before the school bell went for the start of the new school year. Everyone still calm, everyone still smiling and a much-relieved son in his smart-ish (they did need a bit of an iron) trousers.
How things played out last night and this morning, I am pretty sure, will be a better lesson than anything my son learnt at school today.
There is nothing more important we can teach our kids than where their feelings come from. It creates resilience to life unlike anything else I have ever seen or experienced, and let’s face it there are always going to be challenges and unplanned happenings no matter how organised we think we are.