School is going back and it triggered one of the lovely mums I (Rosie) work with to send me the most incredible, honest, vulnerable email. It’s worthy of a wider read because she so beautifully captures the heart of many mothers I know whose children have differences in their communication skills – social, language, literacy, speech.
If you are mum, dad, grandparent, or carer to a little person with communication differences, you might find some of your deepest thoughts reflected in this mum’s open-hearted words. You might be encouraged to know you are not alone. But if you feel alone, please reach out. As this generous mum and I shared reflections about her worries and wonderings, we decided to activate a parent reflection and connection opportunity. We will meet by telepresence at a convenient time. Connect with us and join your voice to ours as we evolve support and connection that will help us all toward vibrant health and care of ourselves and our children and families.
Here’s this mum’s story. Shared with her permission.
As we head into the time that school starts back, I find myself becoming shorter in temper, easily distracted, and at times teary. Sleep is eluding me and I find myself lying in bed worrying about my son who doesn’t talk as well as the other children.
This week, when he speaks to me, I can hear every problem. “Look mum, my two… [pause]… both thongs are… [pause] off…”
I wonder, is his speech really bad? My friends tell me they don’t notice anything. Am I overreacting or underreacting?
But at 2am, on my third night of little sleep, I feel like I am leading a lamb to the slaughter by sending my child to school to be ridiculed and teased because he doesn’t talk as well as others.
I wonder, did I do enough work this summer with him? I was tired a lot. I wish I had done more.
I wonder, do other mothers worry as much?
What about the mum whose child is anxious and cries a lot? What about the mother whose child has a diagnosis and struggles socially? What about the mother whose child is shy and won’t speak?
Are they too lying awake at night wondering if their child’s problem is really that bad, and whether others will really notice?
And the big one, will this be the year my child realises he is different? And will he crumble under that realisation?
Then comes the guilt. I tell my children all the time that being different is cool. I tell them to unapologetically be who they are and not to care about the inevitable judgment that comes to us all.
But when it comes to my child who doesn’t talk as well, and doesn’t read as well as the rest of the kids… I just wish he was normal! How is that for hypocrisy!
I know adversity can grow a resilient, successful and fulfilled person. But, deep in my heart, I just wish he spoke like the other children.
It’s quite fascinating this ride of motherhood with a child who isn’t quite like the others. Because, at our last speech therapy appointment I was so proud of how far we had all come. I was noting my son’s progress but also my progress – of less worry and more acceptance and joy.
And so, the roller coaster goes on…
Keep perspective mum.
See the joy mum.
It’s going to be ok mum.
Photo credit: Abigail Keenan – Unsplash.