“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt…“
“We’re NOT Scared.“
This book was one of my favourite childhood stories.
Those words above, iconic words shouted with glee and gusto during “calm” and “quiet” pre-bedtime stories, have become my mantra as a mother.
I may not actually be hunting for bears (though Noah would look super cute in a fur lined Trapper hat) but like the characters in the story, I face some obstacles I don’t feel I can get over, or under and I just have to get through them.
Sometimes even basic endeavours, with Noah, can seem like a massive task, mostly because I’m doing them on my own, and all the responsibility falls to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are many situations which are just as daunting for two parents to tackle. Having a baby is hard, not only do you have to get used to the demands of this little person, and then find balance with a schedule, you still have to carry on with life. But not having another parent to help you can sometimes feel a little as though you are struggling against the tide.
For a long time I was scared of going out of the house. Then one day I told myself enough was enough. If I got myself stuck into this little world, where only Noah and I exist, I would never achieve anything. So I went for a walk. Only around the local area close to my house, and only for about half an hour. Of course someone was on hand to rescue me, Noah and the pushchair at a moments notice, but I didn’t need saving, because I knew if I was “saved” then it would set me back into my little world of not going out.
All the time I went on this walk, that lasted all of about 30 minutes, I was saying in my head, “We’re going in a bear hunt… We’re not scared.” It really helped to calm me, and keep me from having a freak out. Some would contest that it was the rhythm of the words, rather than the words themselves, which could be true. It worked though, and those words stuck.
Those words became especially handy when I took Noah to the baby weight clinic for the first time. I got to the family centre, and joined the waiting room filled with parents and children. I could already feel the first fingers of anxiety trying to pull me under. Eventually Noah’s name was called and we went to the room, I got Noah weighed, and my health visitor came over to ask how I was getting on. Then it happened. I burst into tears, it had all become too much. Noah had started to cry, and suddenly I didn’t feel like I could cope anymore. My lovely health visitor calmed me down, helped me stem my streaming eyes and (embarrassingly) my nose, and help me re-dress my little man. We sat and talked for a while, and she reassured me I was doing well and could cope. I soon felt better, and felt like I could leave. I got to the front of the family centre, and was placing Noah in his pushchair, when i was gripped again by fear, this time instead of not wanting to be at the centre, I wanted to not leave. This place had kind people who could help me, as soon as I walked out the door I would be on my own again.
Then the words from the story popped into my head, and I said them over and over to myself, as I walked to the car and drove home.
I eventually branched out to do things with friends, meeting for coffee, going shopping, spending longer away from the warm safe cocoon I had been building. All the time saying the words from book, in my head, whenever I felt like it got too much.
People say not to put too much pressure on myself, I don’t have to do anything I feel uncomfortable doing.
I know this, but I feel that if i don’t push myself out of my comfort zone, I won’t achieve anything, I wouldn’t have gone to baby groups, and made new friends with other parents. I want to go on holiday in the future, just me and Noah. So I need to push myself now. Get myself somewhat used to being in new situations, with Noah in tow, and being able to cope.
People who know me well, know that I can come across as so confident, yet under this bravado is a scared person who is assessing everybody in every new social situation, and that it puts a lot of stress on me.
I’ve kept trying, and kept pushing those boundaries, and the other day I spent the day in London with Noah. I went there to meet an old work colleague and introduce her to Noah and Noah to her. It was such a lovely day, and I was pleased with myself for being able to cope, with only a small bit of anxiety creeping in when 1) I wasn’t sure how I was going to get Noah in the pushchair off the train at our stop ( two lovely men lifted him off for me) 2) wasn’t sure I was going to get back home before Noah went into full meltdown (he was tired and fed up of being in his pushchair for most of the day). Even though me and Noah went up there and it was successful (in a baptism of fire I might add, think FA Cup final, drunk crowded trains, and the end of half term, families lots and lots of families) I know I wouldn’t have gone if I wasn’t going to meet someone up there.
I know that I can do it now, and the obvious next step for me is to go on a day out, and not be meeting someone, and manage it on my own. However I don’t mind saving that Bear Hunt for another time, because like the book I don’t want to come face to face with a “Bear” that I feel I cannot cope with and have to run for the safety of my “bedcovers”, before resolutely declaring,
“We’re not going on a bear hunt again“.