40 and Fabulous | A story of a mum and her son
Fiona and 7-year-old son Malachi having a cuddle
Fiona Small, Peckham local, single mother of 2, founder of Young Mums Support Network C.I.C. - which she built with her baby, now 7, on her hip. She is a well-recognised parent practitioner, she has visited 10 Downing street, hosted NatWest’s International Women’s Day roundtable and been a guest speaker in Atlanta. But now, at 40, Fiona wants to share with you, the other side, the side that doesn’t get reported on or awarded.
When Fiona’s son moved from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 his behaviour started change, he started being disruptive and running out of class, one time sending the deputy head on an hour hunt to no avail. Opening up to a new friend saw her take her son to a behavioural therapist and get a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Did you have many people in the area to talk to about what was going on?
At the time I wasn’t really talking to people because I was thinking it must be me, maybe I am doing something wrong? I couldn’t get my head around what was going on.
There was another mum at school, she had an autistic boy who was friends with my son, we really clicked. One day, sitting in the car outside her house in the rain she asked ‘how are you?’ after a pause I said ‘Actually I’m not fine’ so we sat in my car and I opened up for one of the first times about what was really going and I just burst into tears. It was her who recommended the behavioural therapist. So through sharing I got access to that.
When you are going through something like this, that you can’t quite comprehend, the best thing you can do is to surround yourself with others who aren’t going to judge you and can empathise with what you’ve got going on.
Do you think a diagnosis helped you?
What the diagnosis does is, it gives you something to work with. To be totally honest, I didn’t know what was going on, I had to take my practitioner hat off, I had to take my professional hat off, I had to take my business hat off and just be a mum who didn’t know what was going. I had to go back to basics and look at my son as an individual and try to work out what was going on with this individual.
Why is it important for people to hear ‘the lows’?
What social media can do, it can sell a lie, the achievements of my organisations are fantastic, and I don’t want to play them down, but I want to get across that I am human and I have stuff going on. It’s about how we respond to situations.
You know I am on one of these parent forums where people are saying that they have got similar things going on and when you look at their Facebook you would have no idea, they are always living their best life.
So, as I build my own brand, in the parenting space, I want people to know that I have stuff going on. There is no manual, some people choose to share and some of us put on face.
I’m not gunu put on face, I want to be real with who I am and what I have got going on because, in that. I know that it can help somebody else.
I solely believe you have to try things, that has been my mantra, that’s why I think doors have opened for me. But at the time before diagnosis I felt ashamed, I felt like a hypocrite and I wanted to shut up shop with my company, I thought ‘I can’t be supporting mothers with different issues and I too have it’, but now I realise that it does qualify me in this space because I can very much relate to what others are going through.
If you want to talk to someone about ADHD then you can email Southwark ADHD email@example.com