So, I’ve been reminiscing over the last two years this week after successfully completing my foundation degree and attending my graduation ceremony.

Two years ago, was probably what I’d call rock bottom; I was trapped. Trapped in what felt like a never-ending cycle of a failing, almost toxic relationship, trying my damned hardest to make it work, stubbornly refusing to accept that I couldn’t make it work. I didn’t believe in myself, my confidence had hit an all-time low and I had no respect for myself. In my head, I thought that throwing myself into my work, taking extra hours and accepting more responsibilities within the workplace, whilst also taking on a foundation degree was the way to bring myself back up again. Boy, was I wrong. I honestly thought that trying to fix my relationship with his Dad, working every hour God gave and then throwing my spare time into being super mama until he was in bed, then staying up most of the night studying so it didn’t cut into our small amount of time together was what was best for TJ. I thought that a hard-working role model, in a (for lack of a better phrase) “non-broken” home was what he needed. Trying to be that person, stole away any last dregs of me. The gobby, fun-loving, sociable girl had gone and was replaced with this defeated shell of a woman, who honestly believed there was nothing better in this life for her. After the absolute car-crash way that the relationship ended, I thought I was going to be this shell forever. I couldn’t feel anything, let alone happiness.

Two years on, and for TJ and I, our lives could not be any more different if we tried. When I look back upon the past, I can’t help but feel disappointment and sadness for that woman. These past 18 months (after my initial 6 month breakdown), I can finally see the light and together Elliott and I are finding a way for me to get back to being that gobby, fun-loving sociable girl I once was. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go and I continually struggle to find that balance between being Mummy and Gemma but I am trying my best.

Being a mama; there are no words to describe what it’s like, there are no words to describe how it genuinely does take over your life, but in all honesty, I think we’re all guilty of falling into and getting stuck in Mama mode. Taking on more and more, that in the end, the bucket does just overflow. You truly believe that what you’re doing is best, because everyone says Mama knows best, but let’s face it, why keep taking on more and more and providing a pretty rubbish container, when if you take on a little bit at a time, empty the container space regularly, you’ll have more space to take on bigger and better challenges. (I’m crap at metaphors, so if anyone missed it, the container is your mind and mental capacity). I personally hate the phrase “Happy Mum, Happy Baby”, because I believe that my children’s happiness should always come first. When my children are happy, I am at my strongest and my mind is more at peace (See, it’s not all due to the meds!). Not completely, but more than usual anyway.

These past two years, I’ve honestly thought that any time I’ve taken for me has been selfish. Having a kind and loving relationship, with 50/50 accountability for our actions, our children, our lives together, Elliott has helped me realise that time for me isn’t selfish at all, I need it. It helps us to get through major milestones and stages in our relationship without me imploding. (Not exploding, trust me, I don’t think he’d cope with another explosion of my temper). It’s also that time to refresh, to boost my self-esteem and to teach our children that their needs matter and they should always respect that.

Life is never going to be easy or straightforward, and I think that’s something every individual parent needs to accept. There is always going to be positives and negatives, and it’s our job as parents to ensure that creating more positive situations outweigh any negative implications. Overcoming any negative obstacles, gives you so much more respect and appreciation for your good experiences, and when you’ve come out of the other side from a terrible part of your life, shows you have the strength to create the most amazing memories to look back on. I need to overcome these anxious thoughts and to stop letting my anxiety rule my life, I oversee my emotions and feelings, and I know that my attitude and how I channel my emotions and feelings is down to me (Again, not just a few tablets!), however no matter what way I do this, it will have an impact on my children.

My me time is well deserved, and not only do I deserve it, my children do too, so I can encourage them to be strong independent adults, and to know that having emotion and feelings that aren’t so nice sometimes is normal, and that there is nothing wrong with exploring them as it’s a part of life that many struggle with. But I’m going to get there. I’m going to show them both, that they can do anything they put their mind to.

Taking them both to my graduation this weekend was the crucial first step in showing them that their Mama can do things that she puts her mind to. The photos just showed how proud of myself I was, but also how proud that my family were. I have overcome some horrendous things since beginning my degree, but I’ve fought through them with their love, their help and support, and I am so so happy that I’ve still come away with my Level 5 qualification in the Children and Young People’s Workforce, with aspirations of going into teaching further down the line. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to do something for me, alongside being a badass, although forever anxious, mama.