A couple of weeks ago Brian and I went to Scotland to do the finishing touches (again) to our beautiful little house in Scotland (no, not a stone-walled croft with roaring fires, but a seventies bungalow with central heating, stunning all the same!)
When we left home in London in the early hours of Thursday morning, our daughter was feeling unwell. She had a fever, a back ache and was feeling miserable. I suspected flu. I was tempted to stay at home with her.
But, we went anyway and, as she pointed out, she is eighteen, her brother was at home and she would be fine.
Roll forward to the early hours of Friday morning and a 5 am phone call from Jen, and boy was she upset!! The pain in her back was terrible, she had been googling, and she was convinced that she had kidney stones or worse and was probably going to die!
She wanted to call an ambulance, there and then. I wanted to be at home, there and then.
So, what do I do? The ex-nurse, the homeopath and the oh-so-enlightened human being.
I panic, that’s what.
And then I start googling. Not to see what her symptoms mean, but to see the quickest way to get home to London. My racing mind became encyclopaedic as I entertained thought movies of kidney disease, slipped discs, meningitis, cholera (cholera?!).
Now, I’m ashamed to say that a lot, probably most, of my thought movies were not really about Jen at all, but about me (sorry Jen), as I hit a rich seam of guilty mother gold.
I shouldn’t have left her. I should have known she would get worse. I shouldn’t be having a nice time in Scotland. I should have made sure she had all of her vaccinations. I should have hugged her more when she was a baby (really? I never put her down, ask anyone!). I should have breast fed her (hang on a minute, I did until she was 2!). I should have been a better mother, I SHOULD BE BETTER.
At that point, I ground to a halt as I realised exactly what was going on. I was making movies, freaking myself out and pacing around on a toxic high of adrenaline, cortisol and whatever else my perfect body produces in response to my panicky thinking.
I suddenly became aware of my surroundings. I was back in the room.
So, already feeling calmer I looked around for something to do, only to notice Brian on his mobile calmly chatting to Jen and making suggestions. Jen was also in a calmer state, funny that!
To cut a fairly short story even shorter, Jen got better. With the help of big brother, water, remedies, paracetamol and sleep, a couple of days later she was back at work. She did go to the GP and was given antibiotics, but that’s another story!
I also became helpful. Once I had returned from la-la land I knew exactly what to do, what suggestions to make, how to be good enough. And we even stayed in Scotland for another five days. And that was fine.
So, to make it all about me again, what was that all about? Simple really.
I temporarily forgot about my natural state of resilience, my common sense, my amazing powers of rational, helpful, creative thinking.
I forgot that I was just feeling my thinking in the moment (the made up techniclour movies) and that Jen’s condition had nothing to do with my crazy visit to the land of make believe. A land where I experienced the shoulds, the coulds and the maybes of the past and the future. I had bounced right out of the present and hung out for a while in the land of crazy.
Fortunately, my psychological system knew what to do and I returned to the present. Somewhat shamefaced and humble but sane again (sort of).
So the next time that my role as a Mum feels tested what will I do? How will I react?
To be honest I have no idea, and that’s okay.
p.s. the house in Scotland is ready and gorgeous and I’m doing beautiful intensives there! So, if you want to know more, just get in touch. I’d love you to join me.