I find it hard to actually say "I'm a good mum". I don't know if this is something other people feel or if it's just me but the fact I know I could do better in so many ways almost makes me feel like a fraud to admit I am a good mum.
I remember a few years ago at a therapy session writing a list of what it is to be a bad mum and what it is to be a good mum and after going through it I found myself more towards good than bad. In fact I wasn't really near the bad section whatsoever.
I was having a conversation with my mum when I said the words "I did really well with that. And with that. And also with that" and when our phonecall ended I sat and thought about the three events I had mentioned to her and how actually, these events are a pretty big deal to anyone but I managed to make them less of an issue or of a massive, scary, life changing event and was able to put a positive spin on it all.
And if I say so myself...I did brilliantly.
And if I say so myself...I did brilliantly.
I guess I realised that some things I'm not good at and I am lacking at when it comes to being a mum. But I have confidence that those bigger things, the bigger events, the times that take you by surprise and you have to think on the spot...those are the times I do well and I earn my "Best Mum" badge.
When the boys father and I split up I was pleased that we hadn't got to a stage where we were constantly fighting or arguing, especially in front of the boys. It would surprise me if the boys hadn't picked up on something between us but I think them being so young definitely helped.
I was adamant that I wanted them to know the truth and to not be protected by secrets.
I remember casually telling them in the car that mummy and daddy wouldn't be together anymore and wouldn't be married anymore because we didn't love each other anymore but would stay friends.
I explained that they would have two houses, two bedrooms, and the thing they were most concerned about was not having NickJnr at both houses.
I was really proud of how they took it, and I was proud of myself for being able to deliver the news in a way that felt comfortable and easy.
I think with children things only seem a bit deal if you make it out to be a big deal. The bigger an issue you make it, the bigger the issue it is. And yes, divorce and a family separating is a big deal, but it doesn't have to be to children. They don't need to be aware of the hard times, the difficulties and the panicked moments of "what the hell am I going to do now?", of any fall outs or debates going on.
However, I also let the boys see me when I was crying, I let them see when I was sad, or a little bit angry. Without ever placing blame on anyone or trying to turn them against a parent, I have always felt it important for my children to see me as a person and although they see me as strong and brave and powerful, I want them to see that other side and to know how to react or sympathise with someone who is sad.
As a result I can confidently say I have raised two children who, although at times get me to the point I am crying, will drop everything to run and get me a tissue, a glass of water, and a ridiculous amount of cuddles to try and help.
The boys idea of divorce isn't bad. They never got sad or cried because mummy and daddy weren't together anymore, instead seeing and realising that mummy and daddy are happier with their different lives.
My (ex) mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and was given an expectancy time frame. Telling the boys was really important to us and although I respect my ex I felt that, due to my faith and the things me and the boys have talked about, I was the best one to discuss this with them.
I remember being sat on Charles' bed and tearing up as I told them we talked about my great-nanny and about how she is one of our Angels and is with us. Thankfully the boys have the same faith and belief as me...which I know is maybe a silly thing to say when they are so young but I have always been open with them that they can believe in whatever they want to. They have both had proof of our spiritual belief and therefore their own reasons to believe in the same as me.
Anyway, digressing, although this moment was sad we were able to bring a positive to what could have been a scary thing for them.
We discussed how there would be moments Grandma would be poorly and she might not be able to see them and do things with them, and they really understood that. They do have the sweetest, kindest hearts.
The day she passed was really hard. That morning we had discussed going to see her as we would go past the town she lives in on our way home. Harry had drawn a picture of her as a Superhero.
We almost popped in to see them on the way to where we were going, rather than on the way back but something told me not to. Around two hours later I had a Whatsapp from my ex telling me Nancy had passed.
I was stood in a garden centre. I looked at my phone, I gasped and had to somehow keep strong until it was the right moment to tell the boys.
We were going out for dinner and I sat with the boys in my car and gently said to them that I had some news. Charles knew straight away, but I said the same as when I told them about cancer. That we now had another Angel. Through their quiet, gentle tears, I told them that any time they want to talk to Grandma they could because she would be there listening. Anytime they want to talk about her they could. And that she would never miss a thing.
I comforted them. They comforted me.
I was so proud of how they expressed their worry and love for their granddad.
I was proud of the three of us and how each of us had handled and coped with the initial telling them she was poorly to telling them she had passed.
We still talk to her. We still talk about her. We all miss her incredibly but I am so proud of how calm their emotions are and how understanding they are.
I avoided certain words as I think they create a scary, dark image and even now I can't bring myself to type those words as I don't like to associate them with her. I think that's really important, to make sure you choose your words and wording carefully, to really think about how you are going to deliver such news because not only does it make it easier for them, it makes it easier for you too.
Moving house wasn't something I had really been planning but after two years of emails complaining of no heating in my lounge and dining room, the crack in the bath, the broken fence at the bottom of the garden meaning anyone could come in, the big hole in the shed roof, and then a chance opportunity of moving to a house with heating, a nice kitchen, fixed fences and a landlord that might actually care I had to take it.
I looked at the house before telling the boys I was even considering it and as I told Harry his eyes filled with tears and he started to cry. Silly excuses for being sad came out which I completely understood. "But we only have two cat boxes and have three cats!" being my favourite.
The thing was, I knew he was scared. He has felt safe here for two years, he feels comfort here, he doesn't understand the fights and stress and emails I send asking, politely, for simple jobs to be fixed.
I soon did as I did when we moved out of the main family home they lived in before their father and I divorced. I pointed out the downsides to the house. I told them of all the issues we've had. I took them to the new house and pointed out things that were better. "We'll have proper heating" being one of them. And soon enough Harry's tears were gone and instead he was super excited that he would be able to walk to Asda....seriously, children can be very strange!
With the house move soon on top of us and the boys in single figures of the nights left in this house, I am so glad that when I ask how they are feeling both reply with "a little bit sad but mostly excited. We can't wait to move" and I know that, again, I did something right.