Being a mother

As I write this on Mother’s Day around the world my social media feed is full of posts on people’s mums that have a special place in their hearts to their own children that mean the world to them.

There are group of people we rarely mention on Mother”s Day, those that have loved and lost a child, which causes a pain few can ever begin to imagine. I have also noticed few posts talk about non-biological mothers, the step to foster and adoptive mothers that come in and give the love to a child that is not biologically part of them but are still part of their hearts.

Being a mother is something very special that we often take that bond for granted. Not all mothers are best friends or understanding, some are abusive and hurt their children emotionally, mentally, and/or physically. Having a narcissistic mother that makes everything about her, controlling your every move, and hates when break free as you have done her wrong.

Yet what about those that are childless? Not everyone wants to have or is able to have one. I felt in my teens I would never have my own and now I know I probably won’t, not 100% by choice for my body says no. As for adoption it is certainly been a consideration in recent years, but I can only see me adopting a furry child that barks and woofs than one that speaks and walks as a human does.

Mother’s day is a privilege to have and share with either one we have given birth to or one we have taken into our hearts. However, please remember it’s not a day of joy for all, from those that have lost to those that are victims of their mother’s action. Equally, to those of us that may never understand that unique bond, we are not failures or freaks, we are loved as siblings to aunts and friends.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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A survivor’s song

Crying tears that were never seen or heard
Heart was broken but unable to heal anew
Isolated as uncertain how or who to trust
Lonely for the prisoner and jailer in one be
Dispirited so picked at scars until they bled

Angry that trust turned into a lifelong pain
Behaviour that made the abnormal a truth
Unbearable seeing their faces in the present
Secretly wishing they could feel this pain too
Every day getting stronger to fight on through

Survivors learn to dance to their colourful beat
Undoing the chains that bound them in fear
Ready to take on the world with both hands
Victim no longer be what they call themselves
Inspiring others not to give up hope in the dark
Visualising a light to keep them safe and warm
Observing karma do her thing without revenge
Revealing a new path filled with peace and love

© Fi S. J. Brown

A child’s question – mental health

Yesterday I was asked: how do you explain mental health to a child? The child in question being 4 years old. Although I will never have my own children, it is an important to realise with an increase in mental health that we consider it from a child’s point of view and not ignore their questions. So, I felt it was an important point to ponder. N.B. I am not a trained counsellor but considering a basic course in 2016 as many have said I should be one, but use my own experiences to offer support and advice to friends.

Immediately I remembered my step-mum after my breakdown and suicidal thoughts said I could not stay with her, my dad and step-sister as was not fair on my step-sister as she was too young (I was almost thirty where as she was twelve). My own parents split up when I was eleven, so thought when I was her age I had already gone through a major traumatic experience. Equally, she was of the age when lots of changes would be occurring and have questions about life. Was she really too young to understand why I felt the way I did or was this the stigma of mental health kicking me at my lowest ebb?

My step-mum also would never let me explain fully why I was depressed to her and events had become the way they are. I was having therapy at the time so I could understand my past and how I got to where I was today. So what I had learnt from therapy, I could never put into practise, for as soon as my mum’s name was mentioned, she’d go deaf; my mum had painted her (wrongly) as a scarlet woman thus could not hear a bad word about her. It was incidents like that every time I saw her that lead to my re-estrangement with my father, as she would corner me to ask me again and again, but not give her the answers she felt I should be saying. How could I explain when what needed said was not being heard?

My family never talk about things, so all sorts that hurt me from physically to emotionally and mentally can still trigger or impact upon me decades later as cannot always move on from them. Only the other week I had a panic attack at the dentist, partly through a fear I was choking as I nearly blacked out and my fear of people coming in my face after things my brother did to me thirty years ago, which my parents never punished. I once nearly punched an optician as he came close to my face when helping me try contact lenses and my head kept thinking he was going to strangle me like my brother kept trying to do. I would never knowingly hurt anyone, so both incidents left me crying and shaking at being a fool to let the past strangle my present and possible future. However, it also tells me that I also need further therapy to move on from them.

Going back to the original question I was asked. I feel honesty is the best policy, especially with children, but just how do you tell a small child about something many adults do not understand or accept? The friend told me the child already knew they cried, got angry and took medication, but as children often do, wanted to know more. It made me consider both my nieces, one almost 4 and the other almost 5, how would I explain how Auntie Fi’s health? The eldest already asked why on why I did not do certain things. I also felt that children need reassurance and that it is not them, but their parents still love them and always will.

I thought back to my own childhood, how I used the Care Bears to show how I felt. When I was seven, my tummy felt like Grumpy Bear with a cloud on it with the drops feeling like the tears I had in my tummy. He was the only Care Bear I was never allowed to own, as my mum found his image too depressing! Ironic given it was me trying to tell her I was depressed from events at home and the bullying at school.

I looked up an image of Grumpy Bear on the internet, and immediately hit upon an idea. The friend could colour in with and/or supporting their child the image of the bear, describing how sometimes they felt like the bear, the raindrops were like the tears he cried and medication the hearts that stopped the raindrops falling as much, which together with their loved made more hearts form. My friend felt this was a good idea, but reminded them they knew their child in terms of development and sensitivity required.

Discussing mental health is not easy, whether it is with a child, teenager or adult. However, it is by discussing what it means to us and impacts our lives with family, friends and colleagues that will end this terrible stigma, which I believe should have been left in the 20th century. In many ways discussing mental health is like discussing having cancer, diagnosis under either umbrella term can change lives forever but they do not have to mean the end. We all feel like Grumpy Bear some days, needing the love of others to be the hearts when sometimes we forget to love ourselves and know it is okay to cry like the raindrops, as the sunshine after the rain is almost worth dancing in the street!

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Parental Split

It is funny how some days and events are engrained in the memory long after they occurred. Twenty five years ago my parents marriage was over, the day is as clear now as then, combined with being muted of words and feelings to be expressed left me alone and unable to express the world I now felt part of. I already knew things were not right with their marriage, and my father leaving for another woman did not surprise either as already knew he was having an affair with someone else but as an eleven year old I was not able to say as much as was what my instincts had said for months. My father was the parent I could trust, my mother was not, making the blade of pain that bit sharper that felt like it cut me up day after day as she sunk in her venom like a snake.

I hurt for days to months and years after the day itself as like so much in life it is the ripple or domino effects we feel from the actions of others. It is only as an adult can I put myself in the shoes of both parents; to think of and empathise with the emotions and feelings they were going through. What that day continues to teach me is how important communication is and the children should not be left in tearful mute because the adults do not talk on issues. My father managed to highlight again how poor a communicator he and my mother are by neither expressing what the “split” actually meant. Why could someone not say it meant it was over. My step mother could not understand as I tried to explain to her things I could not change or have done differently then when in contact after a decade of paternal estrangement.

I have learnt that we need to talk to each other and accept things in life, no matter how hard they seem today because these are the foundations of tomorrow. Thus dwelling on the past means we cannot enjoy what the present has and it soon will be but a memory too. I may not speak to my father again but that is my choice as this day was the domino for times he’s hurt and/or let me down when I have tried. My mother still will never move on from that day, many a time she still sees me as that eleven year old girl, not the woman of almost thirty seven. All our actions have consequences, so remember that and the ripples they touch (the good and the bad). Life is not disposable, nor is it recycled, so appreciate those that bring us joy and love, not bring us down with negativity and jealous hate.

© Fi S. J. Brown

I wanna hold your hand

There is something uniquely special, intimate and comforting about holding someone’s hand. Perhaps as it something that reminds us of earliest childhood, that comforting feeling when a large hand enclosed our little one, creating bonds and memories throughout our lifetimes. Then as we become teenagers we no longer want to feel the hand in ours as want to feel the freedom of not being tied to our parents or anyone else.

We touch or hold hands with the person we love as bonds us together, symbolising that two souls are touching and uniting. It may not be a kiss but a clear signal to ourselves and others of our love for another. A Pagan wedding tradition is for handfasting, which entails gentle wrapping cords around the bride and groom’s clasped hands and tying a knot, symbolically binding the couple together in their declaration of unity.

As adults ourselves, we are the ones with the big hands, which comfort and bond with our little ones. We connect with friends and strangers alike in stress and crisis. We also want to hold our parents hands as now look wrinkled and older now, they seem more fragile as the child’s and want to relive our own happy and carefree memories from childhood without the responsibilities that being a grown up has brought to us.

© Fi S. J. Brown

A Mother’s Day letter

The chances of me having a child that is biologically my own are very slim for many reasons, however inspired by Maya Angelo I have written a letter to the daughter I have never had to mark Mother’s Day.

To my dearest daughter,
You are the most special person I have ever held in my arms and will ever hold in my heart. There is no course for being a mother, no book, website or babysitting can really prepare you. For the nine months you grew inside me, feeling you grow, I thought of what of me was growing with you. The day you were born, I thought I would drown you with all my tears touching your little fingers and toes. I was so scared I would mess it up on day one that by two you may have been taken from me as though it had been some mistake that now had to be corrected by the universe, as I did not believe I was allowed to create, hold and care for someone so special forever and ever. I considered observing and asking how friends for advice along the way, from breast feeding to what school you should go to. In the end I did what I always do, weigh up my options but ultimately go with what feels right, trusting my instincts.

Every day you grow, asking more questions than even I asked at your age but like me you know an answer leads to yet more questions, which need time to consider,  thinking about what you have learnt and what you would like to learn about next. You paint with your words, brushes, and music, never forget that creativity is your self expression and does not matter that it is not understood by the masses or bring you in money, as long as it brings you happiness. Equally, your love and affection to me and others is beautiful beyond equal, but remember if someone truly loves you back it is a priceless gift so do not abuse or throw it away as though it were a tired old toy. There are many that will hurt you and put you into boxes, so embrace your individuality as much as what brings you connections with others. Blood and genes we may share, but the best thing I can give you is the freedom to be you.

Today is mother’s day, for me every day is mother’s day as I get to call you my daughter and I will never tire of hearing you call my name or seeing your smile from eyes to lips. I know how blessed and fortunate I am to have you in my life, for as long as we journey together and you continue after I am unplugged from the life matrix.

All my love and best wishes always,
Mum xxx

The Childcare Paradox

Why is it that a woman who chooses to stay at home to bring up her child it is seen as a “waste of time” instead of having a job, where the child is left in the care of others? “You’re throwing away your potential” cry some, how is wanting the best for a child throwing anything away, surely we are by being there when our child needs us most, being a true mother and not just the woman who gave birth to them. A child’s relationship with each parent is different and unique to that child, surely the influences of both matter?

We praise our teachers as they do so much and are often overstretched by doing increasingly more than teach, which should be the role of parent but is blamed on bad parenting for them having to do so. It’s almost like we cannot win, whatever we choose. A parent of either gender can act as teacher, nurse, counsellor, disciplinarian, storyteller, chef, etc. on one day alone, but does not get the same recognition or respect from others as chooses this as their vocation rather than a slave for money to others.

If we educate our children at home instead of mainstream schools there is also a stigma that some how they are failing to learn important life skills that being at school brings. Yet as life is all about learning new things and age is not a barrier to learning, why not use the world around us as a classroom rather than box in a child physically, mentally and emotionally. A child’s curiosity should be encouraged as much as their creativity, to develop who they are as individuals not what is interpreted they need to learn.

Is the family unit being destroyed like so many other things, another part of the ever crumbling cookie. We are told each generation is getting smarter, faster, better, when the reality is we’re getting stupider, slower, and sicker than our elders. The lack of respect some of the younger and older generation show each other is worrying too. Older people have the experience, knowledge and wisdom, the youth as want it all now and cannot wait for tomorrow, with the new adventures it will bring. 

© Fi S. J. Brown

Soothe my soul

I went to the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, yesterday afternoon, a place that really helps to soothe and calm my soul. The flowers vibrating in the wind sounded like Tibetan singing bowls, all different tones to match the different species and colours, making my every step like a mediation. The trees gave me hugs like a parent to a child, with their overwhelming height and branches so long, I felt loved and safe in their arms. Watching the animals, birds and squirrels, they took my worries in their wings or up trees far away where they could no longer hurt me and stop me dwelling. The river that runs throughout whispered to me I must relax; stopping to watch her flow felt like a massage touching my every part, and by the end her rhythm had become one with my heartbeat. 

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