On the eve of Neve’s fifth birthday, I’m once again in reflective mood. I’m sure all parents will understand that feeling of having a new measure of time once you have children. You have this little person that is growing and changing in front of your eyes every day and whenever they reach a new milestone it’s a mixture of joy at what they’ve achieved, but also sadness at the time that has disappeared (in what feels like) the blink of an eye.
Neve turning five feels like a particularly big milestone – not only for her, but for me too. For Neve, because all of a sudden she isn’t a little toddler anymore and she is making those first big steps on her own at school. For me, because this will be the first birthday of Neve’s that I have felt well for.
When I look back at her previous four birthday’s it makes me feel sad that I wasn’t able to be fully present for them and enjoy them as I would have liked to. Despite feeling like I’ve come out the other side of a difficult time, there are still days when I’m overwhelmed with guilt and sadness at how the first five years of Neve’s life have played out. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’ve been the best mum I can be to Neve under the circumstances, but it isn’t how I would have chosen for things to be. Over time I’m learning to accept that I can’t change what happened, but it’s usually during big milestones (like birthdays), these feelings come to the surface.
I’d be a fool to think that me being ill during those first few formative years of Neve’s life haven’t formed her character in some way and I can see glimmers of my anxious/perfectionist personality in her more and more as she gets older. That said, I believe that everything happens for a reason and I believe my breakdown was just as much for Neve’s benefit, as it was mine. Having a child is like having a mirror put in front of you and you all of a sudden become very aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours – particularly those ones you don’t want to pass on to them. My anxiety and perfectionism have caused me a lot of discomfort over the years and I don’t ever want Neve to feel the way I have.
I hope that when she is old enough, she will be able to read this blog (and the others that I have written) and understand that my difficult pregnancy and subsequent breakdown, were the catalyst for me to peel away the layers so I could make some changes and become the best version of myself I could be – and ultimately, be the best mum I could be. I hope she’ll understand that none of what has happened was a reflection of how I felt about her or being a mum and that at no point have I ever felt nothing but overwhelming love for her. I hope that in the end she’ll be able to see it was that overwhelming love that made me do all I could to get well as quickly as possible and that the work I continue to do to break those old emotional habits is all for her too.
Naturally, she’s also inherited other elements of my personality and I know that she is a kind, caring and empathetic little girl because of me too. A little girl who I can’t wait to celebrate her fifth birthday with tomorrow, a little girl I couldn’t be more proud of. A little girl who I hope one day, will be proud of me too.