Pride is a funny thing, isn’t it? I think there is a difference between pride, having pride and feeling proud, if that makes sense? Sometimes I can be pretty hard on myself and feel like I have nothing (bar my child, obviously) to be proud of. I certainly spend a lot of my time telling myself that I’m not good enough, I’m too fat, too ugly, too quiet. Too passive, too stupid, too inexperienced. Do you know what, though? I bollock any of my friends who tell me they talk to themselves in a similar way. I list all their good qualities and make them agree with me. I tell them I am proud of them and I love them.
A few weeks ago, I finally managed to badger my partner into taking me climbing. He is a professional, he runs his own outdoor activities company and I have been asking and asking since before I was pregnant…then I got pregnant, got SPD, had a small breastfeeding infant, he couldn’t be bothered and then we both suffered periods of ill health. It was never the right time and physically possible for one or the other of us but finally he said he would take me. My mother jumped at the chance to mind our son and we went. I bore the humiliation of wearing a harness and experienced the shaky-hand fear that abseiling back down induced, but I was genuinely proud of myself for so many reasons. Instead of focusing on the negatives (yes, I own trainers and always have done) like I’m fat, I’m climbing for the first time at 30 years old and I’m a little scared of abseiling, I concentrated on what I did well. I climbed, for the first time, at 30 years old! Despite having shitty body image, I put the harness on and ignored the fat bulging through the gaps and this is huge given that some days during last summer I hated my body so much I couldn’t leave the house. My partner was proud of me. I may not be as fit as some, I certainly am not as physically capable as lots of people or even myself this time three or four years ago, but fuck… it was good to feel proud of myself and what I’ve achieved. My achievement might not be much for some but it was a bastarding big deal for me. Fine, it didn’t take long for the snidey, niggling little voices to come creeping in, but for a few hours I allowed myself to feel proud.
Do you know what I am also proud of? My son. My child. He is funny and he is bright and he is kind and affectionate and has fabulous fine motor skills (can you tell I used to be an Early Years teacher??) He also was flagged for speech and language therapy at his eighteen month check up because he didn’t have 8 – 10 words. He is now two years and one month old and has many more words but still probably falls below the average expected of children his age. Does this mean that I am any less proud of him than other mothers? Absolutely fucking not. I am fiercely proud of him, so proud that I feel it burning in my veins. I’m not blind (or deaf, ha) I am well aware that he is not speaking as well as other children of a similar age but I also don’t need to listen to negativity, to the idea that he is different or the notion that his speech is ‘noticeably’ slower. It’s unnecessary, it’s hurtful and it is unhelpful. I shut down those voices and refuse to entertain them. I focus on celebrating his achievements in the same way every other mother celebrates their child, because that is my job and that is what he deserves. When he went from saying ‘ummee’ and ’boddee’ to properly pronounced ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ in the space of three days, I was so proud I took a video every time he said it and sent it to everyone I thought would join me in my celebration. Every time he attempts to vocalise his thoughts I tell him how proud I am and how clever he is. Every time he picks up a new word (three or four a week, now) I am excited. In the last three days he has learnt to say duck, birdie, bee and shoe. I have been overjoyed.
What I am trying to say is this. It is ok to be proud of your achievements and not compare them to those around you. It is important to celebrate the things you achieve as well as those of your offspring and your friends and family. None of us are the same as the other and some of our strengths are others weaknesses, but that doesn’t make a personal achievement any less of a big deal. That is my lesson learned for this week – I must practice blocking the negative voices and teach myself to speak positively and kindly about myself. You all probably do this already and if that’s the case then I salute you – hopefully I’ll catch you up! If not, though, then I’d love you to join on my journey.