Our daughter is now at an age where she notices a lot more. Recently I had the most heart-breaking and heart-healing conversation with her. Although we’ve touched on this topic before this time was different…… She asked me through tears rolling down her face, sobbing on the floor in a little ball “why am I on my own, with no brother or sister ? I’m the odd one out mummy.” I felt her sadness and confusion. Gulp! I gathered her up on my lap and took her through our reality!
Amongst many things, I took her through the moment I sat in her room watching her sleep after news that changed our lives. Our little squidge was 2 yo. I combed my fingers through her bundle of curls as she slept. I was being brave and afraid at the same time.
Bittersweet. And yet the deep sadness, void I was left with on not being able to naturally have another child, a sister or brother for Imogen filled me with overwhelming guilt, shame and sadness. As a sister myself I get it! For years though I’ve contained it, swallowed it and whispered it to a few near and dear to. I bought a little black dog to help heal!
Over the years I’ve heard many comments, many well intentioned, or linked to cultural beliefs around ‘an only child’. I’ve also heard it described as ‘selfish’, ‘unfair’, ‘lonely for her’ and that’s hard to hear on top of the bag of shame and guilt I carried (past tense). After much soul searching, truthful conversations with Imogen, I’ve concluded that nothing is normal in this world and the experience of emotions are all part of our human experience/ we’ve all had times in our lives when shame shuffles in, sadness envelopes us, guilt grabs us. As a parent I think guilt is universal for many!
Reframing what motherhood and sisterhood is goes beyond bloodlines. Some of my dearest friends I call sisters.
What I’ve learnt is ‘Guilt’ particularly is an opportunity to reframe and grow as a mother. A chance to become more aligned with what I believe is my OWN truth and not some fairytale, tv programme, or story I’ve been sold growing up! Guilt allows me to recognise I’m not aligned with something within. A chance to make changes or rediscover what would feel and be better.
The biggest thing is giving myself a frigging break and being a little more kinder and gentler for what supports conversations like my one with Imogen. It will be an ongoing conversation, thoughtfulness around social times and helping her see and find her place in this world! And making these emotions something that we can talk about and normalise and give ourselves and others and gentle hug and asking what they need! #sisterhood #motherhood