This isn't a post I thought I would be sharing and 3 years ago when adventure planning with the Bear was just an idea...well it wasn't even on my radar. Now I think it becomes part of the story, the journey and the adventure so here goes!
At the point of July this year me and the Bear had navigated the following; losing my dad, my mum coming to live with us, the cat getting run over, the coronavirus and my mum then moving out. On top of this Bear was also navigating the idea of her Dad getting married and rocked a very tough patch at school that saw her refusing to go almost daily. In all the conversations I have had this year there is a very common theme; that is a lot for an adult to deal with let alone a 7 year old.
7 by the way is a massive development age for the brain and hormones, so when I reflect on this year it takes my breath away. The thing is when you are navigating this crazy world you can't be on top of every moment and by July this year Bear was overwhelmed and weighed down by the most horrible anxiety. Now I know a little about anxiety being I've been a fearful sort in the past and I know how it bubbles up inside of you; working in the field I do I've also listened to many experiences on this subject but I was not in any way prepared for how it would enter my house this year.
Bear has a busy brain and it would seem the collection of events above weighed so heavy that the night my mum moved out (the last big change in the chain) she literally snapped and what happened next was almost the worst 4 weeks I have ever experienced as a parent. Now I'm not going to go into all the tiny details because its not fair on her but my once confident Bear who would kiss me good night and say 'Love you Mummy, see you in the Morning' was screaming and lashing out for anything between 2-4 hours a night until she exhausted herself.
Our adventures were amazing but our nights at home were the opposite, don't get me wrong there were warning signs that happened during lockdown with tempers and unsettling nights but there was a global pandemic going on so nothing was normal. I mean I was working, teaching and schooling from my dining room, it was insane!
The thing with being a parent is that it is sometimes difficult to step back and take yourself out of the equation. In all of this I was treading on eggshells, dreading bedtimes and feeling like I'd suddenly lost my Bear. The day after what seemed like the lowest parenting point I've ever felt my friend said to me 'I wish you could see this isn't because of something you have done or something you missed' she went on to tell me that Bear has one of the most present parents she knows. The thing is when your child is upset and you feel like you can't fix it....it is really difficult not to take it personally and there in lies my only mistake because I did exactly that. I made it personal and I made it about me and it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her.
So from that point on I chose to see things differently and I had to reframe to find the softness to help navigate the Bear back from being weighed down by grief, death, fear and a whole host of negative emotions. Getting support was not easy and to be honest still ongoing, I've chatted to some lovely people, our friends have been bloody amazing but we had to navigate this between us. As a baby and a toddler I had never had to be so present at bedtime other than for stories so this was hard for me to accept but my evenings needed to be about her and no one else. After 6 weeks of my sitting in or outside her door she was finally going to sleep at a reasonable hour but she was in my bed by 11:30 every night. After 9 weeks I could walk downstairs but only if I checked on her 2-3 times between audio stories and at that point she was sleeping through the night about 3 nights out of 7. Then 2 weeks ago after all the trials, incentives and talking, there was no negotiation, no questions, no drama just 'Love you mummy, good night'.
The one thing I know for sure now is that Bear knows she can say whatever is in her head and I will not judge her (and she does!), I just listen and we figure it out. We are still waiting on support and you could argue it might be a little late to the party when it arrives but time will tell.
Some adventures happen at home and they feed into how adventurous we do or do not become as we get older. I'm more determined than ever to feed Bears adventurous soul and battle my adventure fears! As for now well until the New Year our mini adventures will be trips to the beach, cold sea swims and I'm planning on surprising her on a walk round the Valley of the Rocks. I can't see her being too thrilled about that but an experience it will be because all those little adventures build the foundation for the bigger ones too.
Tonight we danced, laughed, cooked dinner and Bear opted to go to bed early. Life is pretty good right now.