How do I not turn my fears into fears of my kids? Not only because I am not supposed to do that, but also because my kids do not deserve it, they are to have and develop their own fears later in their life instead of being crippled by my fears this early on.
The noise was one of the big issues that I had. I could not stand the noise of any kind. People shouting, loud music, loud TV, street noise, as traffic, or train stations, airports, any noise. If it is continuing, if there is constant loud sound, I could not bare it. I don’t like continuing noise and it is hard for me to cope with it. What I tended to do was to get away from the source of the noise, protect myself from it. Leave the place, switch the source off and most of the time, I would go back home, to my silent safety or retreat to a quiet place in the vicinity – a park, river bank or similar.
When I had my first and then the second child, I realised that kids’ cry is another type of noise that makes me feel like I want to jump out of my own skin. This was a big one because babies cry and there is no way around it. Now, it is a bit easier with one crying baby than with two, which is what I had at times and, at first, I would lose myself in that noise and wouldn’t be able to react in a proper way or in any way for that matter. I would get all flustered, anxious and would just want to run away or shout, neither of which would bring any good results. My feeling like this would only make things worse because the kids would feel it and I would have more problems in calming them and myself down. If my husband was around, he would take over and I would be able to stay away until I felt better and so he could calm the kids down. It came to the point where I got nervous when I was to stay with them on my own.
That was not the way to be a mother. I couldn’t have that. I wanted kids, they were not an accident and I love my kids more than anything else in the world, so I had to find a way to be there for my children when they needed me and that meant all the time, when they cry and when they are happy.
I don’t like sudden noises, like firecrackers, door slams, fireworks, etc. They startle me and paralyse me for a couple of moments. I remember one time, my daughter who was about two and I were on the street and I was holding her hand when the firecracker went off – we lived abroad in a country where any celebration involved firecrackers and fireworks – I stopped instantly and squeezed her hand and I remember my daughter’s confused but loving look as if she was asking me ‘what is happening, mama?’. I managed to smile and say that it was ok, but I knew that I didn’t calm her down in a way that I wanted to. I was thinking then, my daughter was not reacting to the firecracker noise (until I did) and I should be the same – the roles have changed, I was looking up to my two-year-old daughter.
A few months later, it was me and my kids in the house and at one point both of them started to cry, my daughter hurt herself and the baby woke up more moaning than crying – but I started to panic and lost a grip of myself and the only thing I managed to do is to worsen the situation by far. The kids’ cry was getting louder until it turned into screaming and I completely lost it. I shut down – my hands were shaking, I was sweating like crazy, breathing heavily and I couldn’t speak. Naturally, my children felt that I lost the control and they were screaming their heads off, looking at me expecting me to help because that’s what I was supposed to do – be there for them, not the other way around.
I left the room and locked myself in the bathroom. I covered my ears and started taking deep breaths, saying to myself ‘you’ll be ok’. I started counting and managed to slow down my breathing, to get some composure back. ‘I need to be there for my kids, I need to be there for my kids’ I kept repeating to myself and then I thought ’this is not their fault, they are only crying, I have to go out’. I took a deep breath, opened the door and as terrified as I was, said to myself ‘you’ve been through worse’ and went out of the bathroom back into the living room. My daughter stopped crying when she saw me and I called her to come to me so I could see where she was hurt. The baby was hungry and there was only one thing it could calm him down – food, but I gave him the pacifier and he stopped crying if only temporary. My hands were still shaking, but as soon as I realised that I managed to put the situation under control, I felt better and my self-confidence was on the way back.
It took me a while to completely calm myself down and the whole time my daughter was looking at me quizzically as if to make sure that I was still there, in control. She wasn’t even three yet…
I had more situations like that, especially with the kids as they are getting older and start to argue and fight and then cry as a result of those arguments and yell at each other and everything else that goes with it. It still happens that I lose myself in the noise, but now I have my own little system that brings me back to reality and I use it almost every time I fall into panic mode or if I have a minor flashback.
Also, my kids especially my daughter, although only three and four and a half now, can recognise those moments when I need silence and they would, sometimes if they are not too busy arguing, let me be and give me time and space, only to jump all over me when I return to them.
I want to protect my children from my fears because of exactly that – they are my fears and I shouldn’t ruin their lives with my fears. They are too young and innocent at this age for me to explain to them what my husband and I went through in a way for them to properly understand it. However, them being observant as they are may bring moments of explanation sooner than we expect.
Am I clear that I will have to explain to them what had happened? Yes. Am I nervous about it? Yes. Will I tell them the truth? Yes. I just hope that I will do it the right way the first time…