Earlier this year in the pre Lockdown world you may remember there being a huge surge in people posting slogans of "In a world where you can be anything, be kind" stemming from the death of television presenter Caroline Flack. I had worked with Caroline in late 2019 on a project that in itself was surrounded with some controversy though everyone involved were looking forward to its release mid-year. The day before her death, we had welcomed the arrival of our precious little girl and I was so excited that my little shout out to my fella had been aired on the Love Island: the morning after Valentines special. I am a huge fan of Love Island and was looking forward to the next series and the return of Caroline as the presenter. So you can imagine the shock when it was announced a day later that Caroline had passed away. In my mind, my baby was born into one world and only 1 day later, the world had changed. So by the time lockdown hit, I think I reasoned that nothing is ever going to be the same again. Ever. From that day forward, a butterfly effect has happened and created a vacuum of incidences that for the first half of this year have almost felt like the world is on a roller coaster leaving even the strongest of people left with their careers, homes and lives all up in the air. And repeat:
In a world where you can be anything - be kind.
It has been said that good mental health is a journey, not a destination and by jove 2020 has thrown some curve balls at us so far. As the dust begins to settle, now is the time that we can start reaching out to each other. New parents that have had to start their parenting journey in isolation can now come out of the shadows and be the exceptional parents they are for all to see. They need the old timers to be giving advice in person instead of their thoughts and fears being subject to public forum, text message and 3am voicemails. The outside world has become quite alien and it is a whole different ball game heading out for the day with the little ones instead of just walking out of the door. So please be kind to yourself if you are running 5 minutes late because the baby is still feeding. Or 45 minutes late after a poonami. Or not even making it out because of one thing, then another AND THEN ANOTHER! These days happen and rest assured they happen to us all. Give the new mamas who are still having to find their feet in the outside world a break and remind them that they've got this.
That said, lockdown has been a challenge for even the most seasoned of parents, with friends of mine having the most stressful time of their lives locked down and having no escape. Even if pre-lockdown they were managing, things have changed as we enter our 6th month of restricted contact from our support networks. Taking things day by day is the healthiest way to get through this and try to do just one small thing for yourself, be it a bath or a short walk out in the air. Looking after yourself needs to be high on the priority list to be give you the strength to look after those around you and for God's sake BE KIND to yourself.
One of the reasons for me wanting to start this blog is to encourage conversation between us all and to share information that can make our parenthood journeys so much more enjoyable. A quick conversation with another mama at the park can quickly turn your day around from dark to light. Just being out in the open air can be enough to clear the mist when the fog starts to build. It wouldn't be possible to have made it almost two years of motherhood without having a difficult day (or week) here and there.
If you do feel like you are struggling, please do not suffer alone and know that there are people out there to contact and support you through. Friends and family are such an important part of anyones parenting journey and the past few months has reduced the amount of support that a family can give. Stress, anxiety, depression and postnatal depression are very real and especially now. It can feel like you are totally alone. You are not alone and there are many ways that you can access services. Your GP will be able to support you and guide you through the NHS services available in the area and resources such as Salford Women's Centre and Mind.org have a wealth of information to help you through.
And lastly, I can't say it enough. In a world where you can be anything... be kind, especially to yourself.
The Monton Mama