Being Brave in 2015

That video was the theme for MOPS in 2015.   At the end of that year four women were asked to talk about their journey with bravery.   I was one of them.  That surprised me a lot.  Before I was asked I didn’t consider myself to be very brave.  2015 had not felt like a year in which I had felt all the things I used to associate the term brave.  Then I thought for a little bit and I eventually challenged myself to actually be brave and share the following story.  I share it here because this blog is my personal weblog.  It has contained reflections for different parts of my life for many years.  What I write below was part of that journey.  I wasn’t very good at writing very ‘truthfully’ last year. In fact I didn’t really write very much.  Here is the written down version of what I spoke to those mums about.  It’s not exactly what I said but it’s the first draft of what was never meant to be me reading from paper in the first place.

When Kate first called me and asked me to be one of the ‘brave’ mums today, I was surprised and scared all at once.  How could I count as brave amongst the other worthy speakers ? I haven’t really felt very brave this year and there have been many times where I have actually been the antithesis of courageous.  I nearly said no. Not because I have nothing to share but because I know how hard i find it to be vulnerable infront of others.

As usual though, I am left wondering about the perfect timing of Kate’s request.  It made me think about the past year within a new frame.  “Brave” and “You.” With those words in my head, as I look back my perspective changes a little.

I can remember the sesssion where the video “Be You Bravely” was shared with us.  We were sat in the Shed, not our usual space, and I was rejoining a group of mums that I hadn’t really gotten to know yet and who i hadn’t seen for 8 weeks of a summer holiday. I also remember how that video made me feel.  TO be honest… emotional. It reminded me of a person I was before I left my comfort zone of family, friends.. before I had a child.   I had to be brave to leave that comfort zone in the first place right?

That day i set myself the goal of spending some time away from Tristan so that I could have some time to myself.   I felt that, somehow, that might be how I could rediscover the bravery in me.  It felt brave to say I needed that space. I was also instantly wracked with guilt, my heart was breaking to admit that I needed that space.  How could I NOT want to be with Mr T all day, every day? Is it ok to say I need some time away? It didn’t feel like it.

Before I started putting my thoughts for this little chat together I did two things.  I watched that “Be You Bravely” video again (making notes – I can’t help myself) and then I wrote down all of the things that I have had to face with bravery this year.  So, here they are, very briefly because I am not good at being vulnerable remember (but I’m working on that – It’s a thing)

  1. I became an entrepreneur, a momtrepreneur a teacherpreneur (take your pick). I took my passions in education and my experiences to create a business idea that is already empowering a professional community to be brave and grow themselves.  We’ve achieved a lot in one year – Even gaining recognition (and some degree of partnership) with Microsoft SA.  Scary Biscuits!  I am so NOT a business person at heart. I’m an educator.  I am also a learner though and it’s been a really good challenge.  Now I know (and understand) new terms like ‘revenue stream’, ‘MVP (Minimum Viable Product)’ , ‘pitch’, ‘pivot’… eurgh! Who knew!?
  2. I have continued to attempt to make baby number two.  I have always seen myself with at least two kids.  I never refer to my ‘child’ or ‘kid’ at home. I have grown up with the term ‘kids’.  Often people assume i already have more that one!!!  But no.Twisty was an IVF dude and we were very lucky.  He was our 2nd transfer.  We didn’t realise how lucky we actually were to be honest.  Since he was 9 months old I’ve been trying to help his sister/brother join our little family. We’ve used up all the embryos left from his round of IVF, gone through another complete collection, had everyone genetically screened, completely down regulated my cycle (putting my through temporary menopause as a result) I’ve been a joy to be around!  Six failed transfers later and we’re still very lucky to have Twisty. :)Dealing with the roller coaster of hope and loss that IVF brings, – Having enough hope to keep going whilst not hoping too much so as to protect yourself if it doesn’t work,  as well as being constantly under the microscope (from a medical perspective) has if I’m honest, been the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life.  I’ve been pumped full of alien hormones and my body has not been happy about that. I’ve had scans on my knees, pelvis, ovaries, even my brain!  I have heard the word “tumour” uttered three times this year.  Thank fully none of those “tumours’ ever existed… They just turned out to be nothing or something little and not of concern.  Turns out, I just had a GP with no bed side manner and a very overactive referral trigger finger.  The stress that the medical side of all of that has put me under has been seriously tough and the bravest thing I have ever done has been to make the decision to STOP.  Just for now.  To stop before the whole thing broke me completely.
  3. I had to confront all of the anxiety and emotions that number 2 caused.  I lost so much confidence in myself.  Not in who I am but in how I read my body and what it’s trying to tell me.  In my body’s ability to heal, to be ok.  I became oversensitive to every sensation it was giving me until I became completely panicked.  Frozen and terrified.  I got overwhelmed.   but I was brave to seek help when I needed it.
  4. All of these situations have presented me with opportunities for me to  be brave by finally allowing myself to be a tiny bit vulnerable with others.  When you move to another country you don’t have your family or besties to cry at.  If you’re like me, it’s hard to let others see how you really are.  I have always been great at telling people stories. I’m happy to go through all the details of what I am going through.  What I won’t do though is show you how I feel about any of those events. I’ll keep that part locked up until it explodes.  The story is easy to share.  The underlying themes, dreams and emotions behind them is not so easy.  I’ve been brave enough this year to finally choose to cry on one or two shoulders.  I’ve started to move beyond “mum friends” to real friendship and it’s O.K. to start telling the whole story.
  5. Making room for me.  Remember? That was my only shared wish all those months ago? I heard the “you” in that theme so loudly.  I wanted to re-discover who that “you” is now that it includes ‘mum’. To be honest this has been something that I have only really and truly started to understand a few months ago.  The biggest barrier to getting this right was myself… Well my brain and how I never thought twice about the little instructions it was giving me.  I’ve been on my feet all day, i’m tired, cranky and I have 5 minutes where I could do something… My brain tells me that the sheets on the bed need changing….  The spare room sheets… the ones that wont be slept in until Christmas.  I listen and off I go. Half way through I realise that this is silly.  That I could have made a different choice.  That the sheets don’t really matter!  I could have taken a breath, some time out for me and I didn’t.  I didn’t think about what I was thinking… if that makes sense.  I’m very guilty of that… GO GO GO GO GO.  That’s not good for me.  I need to prioritise self care.I got everyone to have a go at the 24 hour challenge so that they could see how much time they had available for this themselves.So, i’ve been brave because i’ve started taking time to consider what ‘self-care’ means to me. For recongising the debilitating need I had to do everything like I did before I had Twisty.  No… I can’t read two novels this week or go to the gym and do three classes but I could read a little bit of a book today – with a cuppa, I could go for a walk by myself and listen to music (maybe whilst Matt baths Twisty), I could be flexible and not put so much pressure on myself.There really are only 24 hours in one day. I can’t change that.  I change how I prioritise what I do with that time – especially if there is some room for self-care.

Despite everything, Twisty and I do spend time apart.  1 year ago he’d stay in creche for 20 mins before I’d get a call.  One year ago I was panicking about how i’d left him with a stranger in a room full of toys! Now he arrives here and tells me he’s off to see his mates upstairs whilst I have a coffee.  That all started here at MOPs where I was given the opportunity to take what honestly felt like a massive risk and give him to someone else for a bit. I’d not really had that opportunity before.  This week I spent 2 and a half days working away from him whilst Matt cared for him and wasn’t there at bedtime for the first time in his life.  I went for a drink with a friend after work.  A year ago I would have thought that was awful – How could I choose not to be there at bedtime? Now i’ve realised that a tired, over stretched, anxious mummy who’s been ‘overachieving’ finds it very hard to be a very good mummy.  I need to find me.

I needed to stop “waiting to live”  and start “asking brave questions and search for answers”. MOPS has helped me to do that. To understand that being brave doesn’t have to involve massive battles with inexplicable odds.  That being a mum means that you are being brave every day.  Brave  enough to tale the journey into the unknown realm of mother hood, brave enough to work out where ‘you’ fit into that picture and brave enough to find and lean on your tribe to, be ok with being less than perfect and to find support where you need it.  I really have had to “step into places where I am uncomfortable” and give myself time  to “hear the melodies that seep into fearful places and remind us of who we are”


MOPS = Mothers of Preschoolers  Find your tribe and embrace it 🙂


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