Three months ago, Sydney corporate recruiter Sasha Dumaresq bravely went public with something she had until then kept to her inner circle of friends and family: the knowledge she was struggling with the daily challenges of being a mum to three girls while smashing her corporate career.
Sasha has long been expert at the Tetris puzzle of making pressure, pace and people fit together, but when the birth of her third daughter made her a mum to three kids under four years, she found her super power stretched to its limits and sank into post natal depression.
"I had no connection really to my emotions—I was over functioning, controlling, very controlled,” Sasha says, admitting her need to present a perfect, I've Got This front to the world affected her relationship with her firstborn, who is now nine. (Her other girls are almost 8 and 5.)
"I shut my eldest down," she admits without hesitation. "I didn’t allow her emotions to be okay because I didn’t know emotions were okay."
Still carrying a mother lode of guilt and heavy feelings years on over feeling she didn't allow her eldest "to be who she is", Sasha—who started studying at The Coaching Institute in 2016 and is now a mindset and career transformation coach with her own business—volunteered to be coached one-on-one by me in what was a #Perspectives first.
Now, after her first session was watched nearly 30,000 times by #Perspectives viewers, the amazing Sasha has stepped up again to reveal what happened with her daughter when the cameras stopped rolling and she put into action the strategies we came up with.
For anyone who hasn't caught the episode yet, we reframed how Sasha was reacting to her daughter's clap backs against being what her mother admits was controlling behaviour.
Now, in Mother Load Part II, Sasha says the reframe of "look how wonderfully my daughter's doing" has been"amazing" for their connection. They now share a special half hour at night when the youngest girls are in bed, where they cuddle on the sofa, reading, talking and meditating (yes—at nine! This girl is so much more evolved than I was at that age!)
"She was doing her emotions her way and I couldn’t reach those, and that reframe … really brought out her brilliance and that’s what I wasn’t seeing in her," she says, laughing about how she now deals with her daughter's feistiness.
“I’m loving it. Show me your spunk! I’m like, brilliant, go you, whereas in the past I might have seen that as a sign of disrespect or some other bullshit. She’s bringing more of her and that is exactly what I wanted from this, to bring more of her.
"It's her just being who she is without me needing to focus or change or put some sort of mask on her. It is just seeing her, and there has been some wonderful shifts.”
Speaking of wonderful, it felt that to hear how Sasha and her family are doing. The way she ran with the reframe was authentic and immediate, and I'm not taking any credit. It's her self-awareness that has been tremendously empowering for herself and her daughter, and seen their communication move from sometimes-brittle to often in flow.
Watching her talk about the changes, there was a playfulness and joy about her, which you could see in her eyes and hear in her voice.
And no wonder. She's creating space for her child.
"12 months ago she was quite shut down and not very communicative and I recognise that she wasn’t allowed this space just to be her because I was so about action and process," says Sasha of her daughter.
"I’m enjoying her so much more than I ever had as a result.”
Of course, family life is all about mess and ground that seems to shift beneath you just when you feel steady. What Sasha has set in place isn't a magic fix all for everything and she admits to one area of parenting that still sees her slip into "rigidity" and "mum mode".
Mothers, you know what I'm about to say, don't you? Yep. The rush to get everyone out the door on school days with shoes, hats, lunch boxes, water bottles, a light spirit. As I told Sasha when she recounted the daily 8.30am stampede towards the car, I would be popping champagne corks once it was done if it was me—seriously.
It was another interesting area of everyday life for parents to discuss, and again Sasha was honest and raw talking about her challenges and how her consistent parenting with healthy boundaries can veer into control.
I loved the conversation that followed. It veered from the serious—external and intrinsic motivation and self-autonomy in children—to the totally fun (that because of her children's musical tastes, Sasha often has to sing along to Psy's Gangnam Style eight years after it was a hit ... "but at least they don't like The Wiggles.")
Sasha is really committed to changing some of the family dynamics and I admire her so much. Like me, she's a little highly strung and gets gratification out of getting things done fast so she can have the fun later. The fact that she's prepared to let go of that is very inspiring, and so is the fact she knows there will be messes.
Her embracing of that last bit as much as the delightful stuff is truly remarkable. Sasha, please let us know what happens next with your lovely, perfectly imperfect family.