“I’m really sorry you’ve had a bad mental health day”

I shut my laptop and started to cry. We were in a rush to leave the house to get to the doctors for my son to have his overdue immunisations so my tears didn’t come at an appropriate time. I also didn’t want my children to think I was crying at frustration at them for us being in a rush (that wasn’t the case at all).

I hoped I could hide my crying by the fact that I have a cold and that the boys wouldn’t notice. Hoping I could give myself some time to pull myself together and straighten myself up. 

Too late, Harry had noticed. 

“Are you ok Mother?”

I went from mama, to mummy to mother, completely skipping the mum stage. Something that seems to bother other people but I’m used to it and like it, it’s easy because if we’re out and I hear “mum” I know it isn’t going to be me!

“I’m just having a tough day darling. I’ll be ok.”

We talked in the car about what had upset and frustrated me. My boys are 12 and 14 and at times can be annoying, in the way children can be, but in moments like this I realise just how grown up they can be too.

They listened to me, understood my frustrations and felt those frustrations themselves too. As much as I don’t want to cause them stress and frustrations on my behalf at such a young age, I feel it’s important to have those conversations with them not only as help for me to vent as it’s just the three of us in our household, but also to show them that it’s ok to talk and share if people have done stuff to hurt you or make you feel a certain way. It’s also important for me because like I mentioned, I didn’t want them to see that I was acting differently or maybe going through something and thinking it was due to them. By talking it means they can be a bit kinder because they know I’m struggling and it changes the atmosphere completely. It also encourages them to talk to me and do the same if they've gone through something similar.

We came home, made dinner, watched Deal or No Deal, they went off and had their showers, did their homework and the other chores and left me to relax a bit.

I said goodnight to Charles and then went to say goodnight to Harry. He lifted up his duvet, moved over to make room for me and invited me in for a cuddle. 

I remember when I fell pregnant with Harry that I’d hoped for a girl initially. I worried that having two boys would just be too similar. I’d already had 2 years of a boy and wanted something different, as harsh as that sounds. The day before my 20 week scan something inside me switched and I felt so at peace at the possibility of having two boys.

As much as they have similarities they also have their differences, in quite a big way.

Charles, 14, isn’t affectionate, he feels awkward if you cry or are struggling and doesn’t know what to do or say. He is great to talk to and can have an adult conversation but in terms of the comforting side he struggles with that. He can take banter and isn’t at all sensitive if we take the mickey out of him for whatever reason, in fact he encourages it.

Harry, 12, is incredibly affectionate, and has an incredible way of knowing exactly how to deal with emotional situations. Like Charles, he is great to talk to, maybe not quite so in depth but he has this amazing way of knowing how to turn the conversation positive and focus on something else. Unlike Charles he is incredibly sensitive, something we are working on in terms of not wanting to change it but to make life a little easier for him at his own request.

My boys are built differently too, Charles is thin and quite square. We joke that any hugs with him feel like hugging a table. Harry is a stocky boy and is lovely to cuddle, so I’m glad he’s the affectionate one.

Cuddles in bed with Harry are a bit like a role switch. He lays, with his arm out and I cuddle up to his chest, and he then puts his other arm around me. We laid there and he stroked my shoulder and all of a sudden I realised I was tearing up. I didn’t want to let these emotions out. It was 9:30 and he needed to be getting to sleep and I didn’t want him to see his mum, sorry, mother, cry just before he went to sleep. I wanted him to go to sleep with his mother being happy.

But the emotions were stronger than my control and I was crying.

He didn’t ask me if I was ok. Instead he held me tighter and said “It’s ok, it’s ok”. He stroked my back and my arm, so comforting for a 12 year old boy.

“I’m really sorry you’ve had a bad mental health day”.

I said thank you to him and apologised for crying. I loved that he said those words.

We had a lovely conversation, and ended up laughing because he admitted that whilst I was crying he had been silently crying for me and one of the tears I felt on my cheek that I assumed was mine was in fact his.

I’m going through therapy at the moment which I’ve been open with the boys about and he said “When do you next have therapy?”.

I loved that he thought about that in that moment, knowing that maybe this is something I could talk to my therapist about.

We had a chat about my therapy homework and how at the moment I am looking at things that make me “good enough”, because I don’t feel like I am in a few areas of life.

He told me I am and I explained that I’m not happy with certain things at the moment about myself and he immediately said “I HAVE AN IDEA!!! Let’s say 3 things we like about the other person”.

We laid there taking it in turns to say one thing we liked about the other one and at 10 o clock I thanked him for his kind heart and for making me feel better. I made sure he hadn’t taken on any of my hurt or upset and he hadn’t, instead taking on the satisfaction of knowing he helped his mum, sorry, mother.

I went to bed with a lighter head, woke up feeling a bit better and we had a nice morning getting ready for school.

Driving to school he asked me if I was feeling any better today and wished that I have a better day. 

I’ve really tried to teach them the last couple of years that if someone wishes you a good day, you should say it too, if someone asks how you are and if you have had a good day it’s polite to ask them back.

It made me so happy to realise that this has sunk in but also that he had that on his mind.

I realised right then that despite knowing that although some people don’t like how open I am with my children, the conversations we have and so on, that I am raising these boys right.


I saw a post on LinkedIn recently that really hit home to me. It was a lady talking about her two grown up sons, one who lives away from hom...