Have I Failed My Child?

Is a question I’m sure, as Mums (or Dads), we’ve all asked ourselves at some point. This has hit me particularly hard lately.

A few weeks ago we had Noah’s Parents Evening. I know it sounds bizarre right? A Parents Evening for a not even 2 year old? But actually they are pretty useful. The Nursery have them to update the parents on their child’s progress and we get to look through Noah’s “book” which shows said progress as well as some lovely photographs of what he gets up to at Nursery.

At this particular Parents Evening all was going pretty well, they said his motor skills are really good, his social skills have improved, the only thing they said that he is behind in is his speech. To be honest I wasn’t really surprised by this. I’d noticed that he didn’t seem as far along in his speech as other toddlers his age but it didn’t really bother me till I saw it there in his book in black and white. At this point he was 22 months old but, according to them, his speech level was more around that of a 16-18 month old. Not a huge difference but when you’re told your child is behind in something, it feels a big deal.

And I felt instant guilt. The first thought to enter my head was “is it my fault?”. Have we not talked to him enough? Have we let him watch too much TV? Have we not read to him enough? Is there some way I have held him back? Deep down, however, I know that we have tried our best to help him along. We talk to him all the time. I try my best to ask him questions as we do things, talk through what we’re doing etc. Admittedly at times I forget but heck I’m only human. I read to him every night but maybe I should be reading more with him in the day too? He does watch a fair bit of TV I confess. Normally Cbeebies or Disney movies. But often it’s background noise as he plays. There will be some shows he pays attention to but I’d argue he’s learnt some bits off them too! I caught him mimicking signs from Something Special the other day! We’ve also been doing flash cards with him which he loves. I got a “first words” pack from Dorling Kindersley and I love them because they show actual photos of the objects rather than just cartoons. He recognises most of them now and can say a number of them really clearly. But others he is struggling with. You can tell he knows what it is but he can’t quite form the word.

He can say a fair few words now. “Hi” “Hayo” (Hello) “Bye” “Yes” “No” “Mummy” “Daddy” “Milk” “Peas” (Please) “Ta” “Potty” “Beebies” “Elsa” “Dancing” “Ball” “More” “Bubbles” etc are all words he can say without too much bother. I’m sure there are quite a few more than that but those are the first that spring to mind. However he doesn’t really form sentences yet and some simple words like “Cat” and “Dog” he struggles with. I am noticing some progress though. Like the other day he said “Get Down” when he wanted to come down from his chair which took me aback as I hadn’t really heard him put together two words much before. So I definitely think he’s moving forwards, it’s just taking him a little longer than some children.

But then he was always way stronger with motor skills than communication, even as a baby. He crawled from 6 months, could feed himself with a spoon before he was even a year old and, for the last year, has been very confidently feeding himself. Nursery even tell me that lately he’s been practising threading raw spaghetti into small holes which I think is pretty cool for a child not even quite 2 yet.

I’m not quite sure what the point of this post is. Maybe to reassure myself that he’s doing ok, that I’m not letting him down, who knows? I think a lot of my feelings stem from my battle with depression. There were definite points at my worst where I felt like I could have done more in my parenting. Don’t get me wrong, Noah was well looked after, cared for and happy but there were moments when I felt I lacked the energy to really give it my all in terms of teaching him and playing with him. It doesn’t help that he’s always loved to amuse himself and can be fiercely independent in wanting to do things alone, even at this young age. But I have felt so guilty about it. And wondered if I had not been so absorbed in my mental health, would he be behind now?

But I could spend forever and a day beating myself up over it. The truth is, none of us are perfect. We all have days where we think “I could have done better today”. But there were also many many days where I gave and do give it my all. I’d take him to the park, do painting, invent games etc and do as much as I could to stimulate him and help him learn. Do some off days make me a bad Mum? No they don’t. They make me human.

So my answer to my original question is, No. I don’t think I have failed my child. If he does turn out to have a speech delay then it’s most likely one of those things and he will catch up eventually. And in other areas he is doing very well indeed. So it balances out. And perhaps it’s unfair on him and me to keep comparing him to others anyway. He’s developing and learning at his own pace and it’s all amazing. In fact it’s my favourite thing about this age, watching them learn new things and grow and develop.

So let’s take the pressure off, stop worrying that we’re not doing enough and just enjoy our children whilst they’re still young.

Agreed?

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

First I have to start this post by apologising for my lack of posts lately. Those of you that follow me on Instagram or Facebook may have gathered that I’ve been struggling with my mental health lately and you wouldn’t be wrong. Hence my radio silence on here, as I just didn’t know what to say or write or I felt like everything I wanted to say or write just came out as a rambling mess. A bit like this.

Lately my anxiety has been sky high and my moods have been buried low. I find each day harder and harder and it’s become a real effort to just find the strength to put on a smile and get on with my day. But I’ve had to. Noah needs looking after and bills need to be paid. But I do feel incredibly sad. I hate feeling this way. It’s like I’m watching someone else from a distance. It’s just not me.

I feel guilty that I’m not being the best Mum I could be. Sure Noah is well fed, dressed, clean and generally happy but am I playing with him enough? Teaching him enough? Does he know how much I love him? I feel every day I feel this way that I’m failing him.

I debated whether or not to write about my feelings then remembered that I set this blog up to be honest. About motherhood, depression and life in general. Warts and all. My posts won’t always be doom and gloom and I hope there’ll be many happy ones too but, for the moment, this is me.

I’m hoping over the next few weeks my moods will improve. I’ve got a couple of days of work next week to relax and a health in mind telephone consultation on the 20th November, so it’s all steps in the right direction. But for now I know I need to be kind to myself. Self care becomes extremely important. It’s all too easy as a Mum to neglect yourself but if you’re not happy and well cared for then how can you expect to care for a little human being?

I just want to finish off by saying thank you to everyone who has reached out to me with words of support. It all means an awful lot especially in my lonelier moments. Hopefully I’ll be back here with a more positive and upbeat post very soon.

Much love

xoxo

Hard Days

Today has been a hard day. We all have them although we feel like we shouldn’t. We put pressure on ourselves to be perfect and have perfectly happy days but, nope, we all have hard days.

Today I woke up feeling like a black cloud had descended over me. I felt so sad though I couldn’t pinpoint why. Everything just felt an effort. Like I was trudging through mud, fighting for every step.

I did my best to soldier on. To “snap out of it” but it’s never easy. To be honest I could have quite easily just headed on back to bed for the day but, with a toddler to look after, that’s just not possible.

So instead I did the best I know how. I got my cleaning done, tried to play with Noah (though he likes to be Mr Independent and do his own thing), and we headed to the playground in the afternoon, even though it was grey and grizzly, just so Noah could blow off some steam. And, in the end, we had fun. I revelled in watching Noah exploring the playground, laughing as he slid down the slide and chatting baby talk as he befriended an older boy.

Now I’m sat here at 9:50pm writing this. Jamie’s gone out to table tennis, Noah’s fast asleep, and I feel exhausted like someone’s come along, inserted an IV and used it to drain all my energy. But I feel like I’ve taken a hard day and made it just a bit better. It’s still been a hard day but I made it through.

Jäger Bombs & Snotty Noses

So this week has been a pretty quiet one, mainly because poor Noah has been poorly with a nasty virus. Tuesday we ventured out to town on a shopping trip in an effort to get me out. My anxiety levels have been pretty intense lately and being stuck at home just makes it worse but a bit of retail therapy always helps!

I had every intention of doing a bit of shopping and getting the bits on my list and then taking Noah to a sing and rhyme session at the local library. However, he was in a foul mood, resisting napping and I decided that I wouldn’t subject the other Mums and children to my grumpy, snotty toddler. So I decided to annoy fellow shoppers instead. Later in the day we headed home with 3 pairs of new shoes, my first ever hoodie purchase in years (I know, shocking!) and some other bits and pieces. My favourite purchase I think is my Faith slip on trainers in a sparkly rose gold shade. I love wearing them already and just looking down and seeing my feet sparkle cheers me up. I’m just a human magpie really, it’s all about the sparkle.

Wednesday was unfortunately a working day and that night Noah was at his worst with his virus, poor thing. He just kept coughing all night so neither of us got much sleep; hence why Thursday turned into a lazy day. We just chilled out, watched Frozen (for the gazillionth time), did some colouring and generally relaxed. Until, after his nap and lunch, I noticed he was increasingly chesty and wheezy. My brain went into hypochondriac mode thinking “is he struggling to breathe?” “do we need to see a doctor?” and, in the end, I decided that safe was better than sorry. After a phone call with the 100 year old receptionist (I swear that’s not much of an exaggeration), an appointment with a lovely sympathetic doctor who tried to reassure me that I’m not crazy and neurotic, it was deduced that Noah just had a particularly nasty virus and I just needed to keep an eye on his breathing. He’s on the mend slowly but still sounds pretty phlegmy and crackly. The wheeze keeps coming and going, making me nervous, but hopefully the virus will b*gger off soon.

Yesterday he seemed well enough to go to his Grannie and Grandad’s as planned and Jamie and I headed out to a wedding reception. We had a ball of a time with wine, vodka and too many jager bombs till, with a sudden realisation as I made a quick dash to the ladies, I realised that drinking probably doesn’t combine all that well with my anti-depressants. Never the less I had great fun being taught how to floss by the kids/teenagers (I wasn’t the best pupil) and making a tit of myself trying to do the macarena. All in all a really good evening. Oh and yes, the bride looked beautiful of course.

Today I’m not TOO hungover, more just knackered which doesn’t mix well with an energetic toddler. Currently he’s napping as I write this and Jamie is watching the formula one, the sound of which is drilling into my brain. Only 8 laps of this fresh hell remaining….Once Noah’s done napping we’ll probably take him down to the playground to be big kids and attempt to wear him out. Great fun!

My Inner Struggle

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been struggling lately. My close friends and family know that I’ve had a battle with depression and anxiety on and off since I was a teen but, before now, I hadn’t had a major relapse since 2011.

To be honest I didn’t even recognise myself that I was slipping backwards again until, one day, I thought “nope this isn’t right”. I was having intrusive thoughts, was being increasingly snappy with my husband and I just felt disconnected from my life. I think it started a few months after Noah was born but I can’t pin point it exactly, it just came on so gradually.

So I went to my doctors and admitted that I was struggling which, not going to lie, I found incredibly hard to do. I had been afraid of admitting my depression since having Noah in case I’d get labelled as a bad Mum. I recently had a phone call from a counsellor at Health in Mind after doing a self-referral and, as soon as he asked “are you managing to care for your son ok?”, I could feel myself bristle. I know deep down that I have nothing to worry about, that Noah is well cared for, loved and a very happy little boy but it still terrifies me.

Anyway, I’m now back on antidepressants (Sertraline to be precise) and am slowly feeling an improvement. The depression isn’t completely gone, neither is the anxiety, but they’re manageable. I’m no longer so snappy and irritable and, in my husband’s eyes, I’m probably more bearable to live with!

It’s going to be a long road and probably something I’ll have to battle on and off for the rest of my life. I wanted to talk about it openly though because, even if only one person reads this and knows that they’re not alone and they don’t need to feel ashamed, then I’ve done some good. It’s time we broke the stigma regarding mental health and people felt able to talk. Because maybe if more people felt able to talk then more lives could be saved. Who knows? But it can’t hurt to try.