“You’re the best mum ever!”

How many times have we heard this from our kids? How many times have we dismissed it? I know I have, especially when I’d heard it from one of my sons, who had been relentlessly bullied for almost three years. How could he say I was the best mum ever? Why would he think that? How could he think that? Had he not seen my failings, the times I had cried myself to sleep, wondering if I could have done more and why I was unable to stop it?  Sure, I had spoken to the teachers and even escalated it to the headteacher, but still for a time, it persisted. I had failed my child; I had been unable to protect him and now here he was saying I was the best mum ever, making me feel, if anything a million times worse.

So, one evening as I tucked my son into bed, I asked him “Why do you say I’m the best mum ever, when I couldn’t stop the bullying?” My eight-year-old son’s answer left me speechless. “Mummy there are lots of bad things that go on in the world and we can’t stop them all, but as long as we do our best to try, that’s all we can do, and I know you tried your hardest”. 

As the conversation continued, my son explained that when he first told me he was being bullied, his biggest worry was whether I would believe him, but I had believed him. He hoped I would explain as best I could, why it was happening and I had done that too. Lastly, he hoped I would agree it was not his fault, something I had also done. “See mummy, you are the best mum ever, you did lots for me, without even realising” he said. Kissing him goodnight, I walked away seeing things very differently. In my son’s eyes, I had not let him down at all, quite the opposite, I had given him everything he had needed, my love, my understanding and my unwavering support.

As mums, we tend to focus on what we perceive as failings, never acknowledging our victories, no matter how small. I always thought that unless I could make the bullying stop, I had let him down, but my son knew there was no magic wand to make that happen. The expectations from him were based on having my unconditional love, my continued support and for me to do the best I could to defend him and fight his corner.

As mums, we should never underestimate the impact we are having on our children’s lives, we are their safety net, their source of inspiration, their everything. We may not always be able to make the bullying stop, but if we make our children understand that we will always be there no matter what. That we will always do our best for them, we will have given them the greatest gift ever.

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