I don’t think anyone ever really explained to me how, when you’re a parent, you suddenly have to step up, or if they did, I didn’t listen (properly)!
I knew I’d have to put someone first, of course, feed them, love them, stay up all night with them… But I wasn’t prepared for some of the other stuff, that sometimes took me right out of my comfort zone. Like going in for my first meeting with the teacher when they were at school. Who knew a grown woman could feel like a pupil again?
Sometimes, doing what we need to for our children is hugely affected by our own needs and it’s hard to balance. Many of us will have experienced standing in the corner of a toddler group, you don’t know anyone, no one is talking to you, your child is trying to prise a toy away from a seemingly very well-behaved and quiet child, who by now is screaming, loudly, and everyone is looking at you. Probably not an experience many of us would want to rush back to?
Our Home-Start family groups support mums and dads to give their children the experience of being with other children and adults, as well as an opportunity to make friends themselves. There are friendly staff and volunteers to help make integrating a bit easier, but we know that for some parents, even coming to a Home-Start group can cause crippling anxiety.
When Jude, our Poet-in-residence visited one of our family groups, she asked parents to tell her what it was like on their first visit. One parent’s immediate response was, “oh, the first time I walked in, I walked out!”, and that became the starting point for Jude’s poem that we share with you today.
With words, Jude demonstrates the journey some families go on when they come to our family group. How being in an environment where they feel accepted, normal and not judged helps to grow their confidence and self-esteem. These skills in turn help to prepare families for their next phase of life, with the capacity and resilience needed to move forwards positively.
It’s a lovely read, but have your tissues to hand. (Sarah, Scheme Manager)