Saying NO and Taking Societal Pressure into our Own Hands by Leanne Rodgers

image by Guillaume de Germain

image by Guillaume de Germain

We need to look after our kids and nurture our communities.

We really do. I have been thinking about it a lot recently, about the world our children will be growing up in. We need to take care of our kids, our siblings, our village, be it through bloodlines or friends adopted into our familial village. We need to empower them and make sure they know they are safe and can be whoever they want to be. We need to take delight and celebrate when they blossom. We need to celebrate others’ successes, instead of comparing their strengths to our weaknesses. We are all light and dark in different ways.

I have really struggled mentally the past few months. It started in October, and like a bad smell, it permeated every part of my life. I think anxiety and depression never really leaves you, you just learn to manage it better and you learn more about yourself along the way. For me, it started just before Jack’s second birthday, when I had a panic attack in the car. My mind was racing about everything I needed to do, things I needed to buy, and whether we had bought Jack enough which twisted and turned into irrational thoughts like ‘am I being enough for him’, ‘he deserves better’, and ‘I’m a shit Mum’. This all happened within a few minutes of thinking about what to buy for his party.

I am feeling well again, and I have since looked into birth trauma a little more. Reading about how mothers who have experienced horrific birth trauma often struggle on their little ones birthdays due to the overwhelming pressure to feel happy and elated, when all you feel is sad is rather common. And that was just how I felt; I had this sinking feeling of sadness and panic when Jack turned two, of time that I had lost and also of the time of his birth when I felt so broken. In hindsight, maybe the manic party wasn’t the greatest idea, but you learn. So this year I have a plan – we will not be having a party, and not because his birthday isn’t something to rejoice and celebrate, of course it is. But as the previous two years have shown, I struggle and hide away whenever Winter hits. Instead, we will be going away for two nights as a family.

I’ve been thinking about what we leave behind as well, and how we tend to focus on things that do not matter. As a woman, I know that we feel a tremendous amount of pressure to be good enough, to be the perfect parent, to excel and nail a great job all the while driving a car you can’t afford. Scrolling the mindless Instagram posts, analysing the world of some ‘famous’ influencer and wishing their life was yours. It is so easy to forget that this Instagram version of reality is not reality at all, but rather a curated artificial window into someone else’s life.

I am truly frightened by what is expected of me from society. We are supposed to be everything. Mother, daughter, best friend, wife, lover, carer, listener, fucking carpet cleaner, full time worker, part time worker, stay at home mum, cooker, personal shopper, admin assistant, life organiser. It is all too much, and the excitation only seem to increase.

So what can we do to help ourselves, and in doing so look after our sons and daughters? We can take the pressure off a little bit, step away from social media, turn your notifications off and unwind. Leave your phone at home (try it, it’s actually quite liberating), visit places you have never been before with your child, show them the wonder of the world. Get outside and explore, play with your children, breathe in the fresh air, laugh with them and more importantly have fun. Enjoy the simple things in life, for they are the most beautiful.

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