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Right Now

You have all been so lovely the last few days. The comments on my post about the Health Visitor’s worries about Kai have been endlessly comforting and supporting and I am so grateful for you taking the time to respond so thoughtfully. Thank you.

I had a bit of bad day with it all yesterday. Actually, I had A LOT of a bad day. There were moments there were I could genuinely have opened the front door and run as fast as my legs could carry me.

I didn’t, obviously. Instead I wrestled the ferocious ball of frustration and bad-temper that is my son till bedtime, put him to bed without a bath and went downstairs and cried. And cried. And cried some more.

I doubted everything yesterday. EVERYTHING about myself, about Kai, about my abilities and suitability as a mother, about my perception of my life and how perhaps that differs from reality.

And do you know what scared me most? That maybe there is absolutely nothing wrong with him at all. That he is just spirited, and wilful and frustrated with the world  – no different from most other toddlers.

And weirdly, this made me feel like shit.

I convinced myself that every toddler is like Kai, that all mums have to manage behaviour like his, and as such, the fact that I’m struggling to cope with it so much means I am just weak, neurotic and failing miserably. You probably have three children like Kai. Ten. And you still manage to do normal things like brush your hair, and eat, and go out.

Everyone tells me he is delightful, and fun, and charming and he IS! Maybe what I endure behind closed doors I have blown vastly out of proportion.

Maybe I am just not cut out for all this at all.

No, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want there to be anything ‘wrong’ with Kai. It’s just that the thought that it is supposed to be like this, supposed to be so impossibly hard and feel so unmanageable ALL THE TIME just made me go cold.

Luckily, I have good friends. Good, kind, honest, supportive friends who listen (and I could list hundreds of you, thank you so much).

I have a husband who has been through it all with me and keeps me grounded.

And after being told an awful lot of sense, I realised this.

Do you know what? Kai is hard work. He is really, really hard work.

I’m not saying its some kind of competition about ‘who has it the hardest’, or that other parents don’t find it hard either,but the reality of life with Kai is incredibly challenging and I don’t think anyone could question that.

He’s always been hard work – early months of constant crying and refusal to be any where but attached to me, followed by endless battles getting him to cope with transitions and change and him resisting everything. The speech delay and the near-constant tantrums and the freak outs at the slightest thing are just a continuation of something that’s been going on from the beginning.

He can be lovely of course. He is obviously bright, and can be so much fun and entertaining. He charms everyone around him and can be fabulous company. He plays beautifully, when in the mood to, and if you get it right with him you get it SO right and it is wonderful.

But this is offset by the most rigid personality I have ever come across. It is offset by moods completely dependent on things being just how he wants them to be and endless frustration and tears and anger when they are not. And I can honestly say? The hard times far outweigh the good times right now.

I am not enjoying motherhood right now. It’s not much fun to be honest.

A vast proportion of my day is spent ‘coping’ with Kai, managing his moods and single-minded determination and enduring the frequent screaming, crying, hitting, pulling, outpouring of his emotions. Every single day involves a good deal of time listening to long bouts of crying. It’s incredibly draining, exhausting. And I defy anyone to not find it hard.

And the speech thing IS worrying. The constant, weird, babbled gobbledegook? The fact that has somehow ‘forgotten’ how to say the odd word he could say a few months back? That he makes NO attempt to imitate words yet will copy the sounds he hears himself making on recordings? Of course it’s worrying. I’m not saying it won’t right itself, I’m sure it will, but obviously it’s going to be a concern to me. What kind of mother would I be if it wasn’t?

Whether he fits some kind of ‘label’ or not, whether he is like other kids or not, whether I find it harder than you or anyone else? It doesn’t really matter. Deep down I know it will be fine. I know that he will be fine, that he will grow out of most stuff, and we will survive. I know that really I am very lucky, he is healthy, so am I. I know it could all be so much worse.

But it doesn’t change how hard it is right now. It doesn’t change how much I am struggling.

What matters is I love him. I love him so much it actually hurts me to think about it. I see so much positive in him, despite all the bad stuff, and I am so enormously proud of him, of his fierce strength and passion.

I know I am doing the best I can, I know I am doing a good job, even, because I care about all this stuff and I think about it and I want to make Kai happy.

I just want to be a better mother for him.

I want to figure out what is he needs that I seem to be missing.

Mostly, I just want to see him happy.

And I want to see me happy too.


  1. Josie, I am blown away by your honesty. It takes courage to say things which might be hard to acknowledge, but in doing so I think you get clarity and strength. Best wishes to you and Kai. Please keep blogging and talking – we’re learning from you and sending support.
    .-= Cathy at nurturestore´s last blog ..Valentine carrot printing =-.

  2. Beautifully written that lady. You are such an inspiration and your love for him and frustration at the whole thing comes pouring out of the page. Chin up, keep going, and remember you have so many friends here when you need us. I just wish I lived close enough to pop round for a cuppa or give you an hours break on those really hard days.

  3. That is a wonderful honest post. Thank you. xx

    • @Susan Mann, Thank you Susan. I’m not very good at being anything but honest though don’t think it always does me any favours! x

  4. Josie this was a difficult post for you to write, it’s hard to admit that sometimes ‘this’ is just how you feel & all the worry which accompanies. Honestly there were many many times I felt like this with boyo & it was extremely hard, especially as I’d already had girly and she had been a breeze I couldn’t work out why I suddenly couldn’t do it! Boyo now has turned into a beautiful well rounded little boy, but getting him there has aged me & completely put me off doing it again! He was intense all the time, obsessed, gobbledygooked speech, cried constantly until at least 2 1/2 & was thoroughly & intentionally nasty to girly! And some periods it was just endurance & only just coping that got me through & nobody helped or understood! And now we are just balanced & sometimes it just takes time to get there, sometimes there maybe a label attached, but you will get help if there is and he will still be your beautiful boy and you will still love him so much it hurts xxxx

  5. If you are finding it hard, then it is hard – that is the reality, and there is no shame in that. Anyone can see from your posts how much you care. Kai is extremely fortunate to have a mother who is so thoughtful and focused on him.

    It sounds as if there’s a lot to worry about at the moment, and that not knowing exactly what the ‘problem’ might be, or even if there is one in a diagnosable sense, makes it even more difficult.

    Are you able to get a regular break? Even just half an hour to have a bath or go for a walk might make a bit of a difference in how charged your battery feels.

    Sending lots of virtual moral support. Gappy.

    • @Gappy, Thank you Gappy. Kai went to his Grandma’s for a couple of hours that helped a lot. It just gets so intense day in day out without a break x

  6. There’s a million things I could say … so I won’t. But you know I bought the two bags of marshmallows in my cupboard for you … :o)

    Incidentally … have a chat with my mum? Not for any kind of diagnostics, but she is excellent at ideas on the ‘play’ front.

    I wish you lived nearer … xxx
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..The Clothes Show =-.

  7. Josie,
    This is a very honest post and must have been hard to write, but I really admire you for it.

    I don’t have anything highly significant to write but I just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you.

    They are hard and it is not easy, and it is so hard when you are with them the majority of the day. I hope that you do have a chance to have a little break but your hubby sounds like he is a great help and if you ever need a chat or a virtual hug we are all here. Just keep talking and everyone will try to help.
    Kerry xxx

    • @Kerry, Thank you Kerry. I sometimes wonder whether all day on my own with him sometimes makes his behaviour seem more extreme than I think. Urgh, I don’t know.

      Thank you anyway – you are so kind xx

  8. Ahh Josie, so much of what you’ve written I wrote in my dairies 16 years ago about my son. I well remember how it feels. But you know what? I look at him, this tall dark young man and I realise I did the best I could by him, just as you are doing with Kai. He’s had so many ‘labels’ thrust at him over the years but I love how he is ‘different’, and in return he is fiercely loving and protective of his mum. I often think of how that Developmental Paediatrician bitch tried to tell me he was Aspergers and would ‘never have a friend or intimate relationship in his life’. What utter bullshit. At times it was so lonely when I was struggling with him on my own – the frustration seemed endless both for him and for me. I relied on helping him communicate in pictures and sang songs to him. I allowed him to find security in the same dvd over and over again and eventually he moved on from that. Oh, and that kid who would never have a friend in his life? That bugger invited eight of his closest mates to our leaving party (and left me with a bill of over $800!!!!!)Good on him eh.

    I know I’m only a name on a screen but please feel free to email me anytime if you need some support. All I can say right now, is that it will get better. You will both grow through it and these difficult times will only serve to bring you so close together. Of course you love him, but you just wait until he grows a little and can show you how much he loves you in return, for being there, for fighting for him. It will blow you away!

    Much love and hugs (and virtual chocolate cake) xx

  9. Hey lovely,

    As some of the other ladies have said, this is a wonderfully honest post. I actually think that you are coping far, far better than you realise; you are way stronger than you give yourself credit for, my girl, as I have seen many, many times.

    I’m not panicking about Kai: odd thing to write, I know, because I love that boy to bits and also can’t wait for the day when him and Izzy get married, and he becomes my future son-in-law :D However, the reason I’m not panicking is because if there is an issue with Kai’s speech, or Kai’s behaviour, or even Kai’s third eyelash on his right eyelid, I know that he has the best Mum in the world to help him through whatever difficulties he may be facing. This Mum has endless patience with him, I just know that she will spend hours reading books, throwing books away, reading articles, researching conditions and talking to people until she finally throws out everything which has already been written and finds her own, brilliant way through things.

    You are wonderful, and it is you who I am worried about! We need to give YOU lots of support, help and encouragement so that in turn, you can then have the energy and strength to help Kai.

    I know from having to deal with Izzy’s hydrocephalus that the endless hospital appointments, scans, monitoring, physiotherapy, paediatric consultations and assessments can leave you feeling exhausted and upset as a mother. Always here to talk and eat obscene amounts of cakey with. Love you lots XXX

  10. Josie, as everyone else has said, it takes an enormous amount of courage to come out and say that motherhood is anything other than one glorious round of sunshine and laughter with photogenic babies. Lots of us know the reality is often very different but that doesn’t mean we love our babies any the less, even if we often can go weeks at a time without liking them very much!
    It sounds to me from what I’ve read here as though Kai is a very lucky little boy to have a mother who loves him as fiercely as you obviously do, and to my mind that’s the most important thing – that he grows up knowing that you love him, as you said, till it hurts. All the rest is by the by.
    I really hope you make time for yourself in all this, it’s too easy to go under if you don’t and I speak as one who knows…
    As someone else said, I know I’m only a name on a screen but I do feel for you and if I can be of help in any way please let me know

    • @Cathy Dean, Thank you Cathy – I’m not sure why more people don’t come out and say it to be honest! It’s obvious we all feel it sometimes :)

      Really appreciate your kind words and your support x

  11. Josie, you have an incredibly intelligent, independant little boy. And yes he is different? But you know what? That doesn’t matter, it is his differences that make him unique and the little boy we all know and love. I love watching him and Kyle play together, Kai plays so well with my little man. It’s only natural to feel worried and wanting the best, they are our flesh and blood. I’ve lost count of the times Kyle has thrown tantrums that are silly in my eyes, but obviously so very important to him. You are doing an amazing job sweetie, and there will never be a better mum to Kai than you are. You give him the room he needs to grow and be independant, and give him the love and support he needs also. I’m going to text you my home number so you can call me if you ever feel that you just want to chat xx
    .-= Berni´s last blog ..Parenthood =-.

  12. Oh Josie, sometimes you make me want to jump in the car, speed down the M6 and give you a great big hug.

    You may think I’ve got it hard working, studying and being a mum but I tell you, nothing is as hard as what you’re doing. I get a break, a chance to be myself. I can run out of the door every day which is why I think you’re brilliant. You do have a hard job with a demanding child but he will be ok because he’s got you, Ant, your families and your friends. You can achieve an awful lot with love and cuddles. xxx

    • @Emma @ Notsuchayummymummy, Ahh Emma my love. I feel so guilty saying how much I struggle being home with Kai sometimes because I know how much you would love to be able to spend your days with Sam.

      I guess it’s about balance isn’t it? And we’re both at opposite ends of that scale and wishing we could be more in middle.

      Can’t wait to see you xxx

  13. First time commenter here but I just wanted to say that I know exactly how you are feeling and my heart goes out to you. I recently wrote a similar post about my son (now four)and the battles I’ve had coping with his personality… the rigidity, the obsessiveness, the hysterical screaming for hours and hours, the lack of social awareness, the anxiety. I have to say, about 15-20 months old it was at its absolute worst. Like, Get Thee to a Play Therapist, worst. We’re waiting for a referral to see a specialist now about the possibility of being on the (mild / Asperger’s) side of the autism spectrum which I have total mixed feelings about. I don’t want to attach a label to him but if it helps us get resources to settle him into school this autumn then I guess it’s worth it. Good luck to you, this too shall pass :)

    PS. If you want to read a bit more about what we went through, it’s here:

  14. You write so well Josie, really you are amazing.

    You are you and Kai is Kai. You will find a way that works for you both, but my goodness me is it hard. I feel for you so much, but hang in there. Big hugs. xx

  15. Josie. This post was so honest, it is wonderful. I hope you feel a bit better for having posted it. I hope it all works out fine. big virtual hugs for you, Ant and Kai. X
    .-= Foodie mummy´s last blog ..The voice of worry. =-.

  16. {{{{{{{{{{ hugs }}}}}}}}}}
    what you feel is legitimate. No one can tell you otherwise. As we say in French as long there is life, there is hope. I hope the future will brings answers and strength to you and to your son.
    You are in my thoughts.
    - Eric

  17. Dear dear Josie – Right Now you are continuing to be the most marvellous mother in the world.
    The mother who doesn’t weep with frustration and the toddler who doesn’t scream with frustration (and sometimes pure devilment – he is also busy learning all your buttons) are the ones to worry about – I truly believe that.
    Life feels hard because it is hard – it is shitty, nasty, confrontational and unavoidable with the occassional blast of sunshine which makes it all worthwhile. Apparently ;-)

  18. Josie, there couldn’t be a single person who read this post and didn’t want to do anything they could to make it all better for you. Being a mum is bloody hard work, but for you with Kai you really do sound like you have it harder than most. I really really feel for you. Your love for him is tangible and your worry and concern is evidence of your brilliance as a mother. Hang on in there, you are right to be overwhelmed, and you are right to cry. I believe it helps to process a very hard day. xx

    • @Its a Mummys Life, Ahh thank you. Yes me too, I try so hard to keep calm and not lose it doing the day and it builds up. Crying (and writing) let it out again, otherwise I think I would be bent double with all the swallowed up tension!! xx

  19. Didn’t want to read and run. I can empathise a little with how you feel about having a child that doesn’t ‘conform’. Kai sounds like a gorgeous bundle of hard work and he’s lucky to have an honest and loving Mum. x

  20. Hey Josie, Your post brought tears to my eyes. We all know motherhood can be very, very hard at times, but you are without doubt having a harder time than many right now. Please never underestimate the value & power of your fierce love for Kai. And Know that nobody can do this job better than you. He is a challenging little boy, but he’s also very clearly an extremely lucky one. Hang in there, Wendy x

  21. i’m so sorry to hear about your worries – kids often develop different stages at different times. You are brave to be so honest about finding it hard, because it is. and it sounds like you have it very hard. And i know from my own experiences this week that unanswered quetions can be very frustrating. ask for help when you can and use that suppor group you have. you’re doing an amazing job.

  22. I come to this late and apologising and not reading the other comments, so apologies there but, you know what – today I found myself curled up in bed and crying because I didn’t think i could do it either – I can’t be a Mum to such an angry and upset little boy withsuch a stubborn sister who keeps on upsetting him and upsetting him and neither of them listen then get grumpy when queries become demands, and then throw tantrums because they don’t win a game or get to do exactly what they want and it all becaomes “How did I raise two such BADLY behaved kids” yet everyone tells me they are lovely too – its just when they are home they are like this.
    and today i curled up and cried and screamed into a pillow and just clung to the moments of good i found by scraping the barrel of my memory…
    and secure in the knoweldge it’ll all be the same again tomorrow – that I have to work this out somehow and i don’t know that *sniffle* bloody hell – sorry your post not mine…
    You are brave and loving and corageous and you can do this – we both can.
    *hugs honey*
    .-= april´s last blog ..A story I was told… =-.

  23. Oh Josie. What a heart wrenching post. I remember feeling as you do only too well. And in fact I am AMAZED that you are as productive and creative and downright brilliant on this blog whilst looking after a toddler at all. My boys were a handful and I didn’t have any extra energy to place anywhere else. You are inspiring to me that you manage to be so proactive on your blog and create the time that you do in the midst of looking after a demanding child.

    you are to be admired. I think you are doing great – even tho on days you feel like a failure. I think we all identify with your struggles and I send lots of love and hugs. xxxx

  24. Hi Josie, this is such a brave post to write and post. What leaps off the page (erm…. screen) is your absolute love for Kai and your determination to do your best for him. Keep hanging in there.

  25. I think you maybe wanting to label Kai so you know how to handle him.We had a tough time and still do with Caitlin.She’s 4 and is a live wire.We found that we spent so much time trying to find out what was wrong we forgot how to enjoy her.I hope you get lots support from your family and health visitor as I know we couldn’t of got through without their help.Take care
    .-= Aly´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday-Vlog:How to clean laminated flooring =-.

  26. I’m right with you. YOu know that because we spoke about it, on the phone and on gwave. Please remember all I said, ok? And if you’ve forgotten? You just let me know ANYTIME. Because I’ll GLADLY tell you what a FREAKING AWESOME MOM you’re being right now.

    Ain’t nothing wrong in working your ass off so hard to do right for your baby. And when he responds to that? You’ll know that’s the greatest feeling EVER. You only need to go watch your YouTube vid to see that.

    I love you, lady, you’re an inspiration.
    .-= jay (cosmicgirlie)´s last blog ..Semi-Silent Sunday (and Saturday and Friday Night) =-.

  27. All children are different (of course!) and it does sound like Kai is harder than many. I was lucky with my eldest, in that she was pretty text book, but I still found first time motherhood incredibly hard. The anxiety and tiredness and feelings of helplessness outweighed the joyful parts and I was very worried about how I’d cope with a second child, although I knew that I didn’t want an only one. When I had my second one, I realised that my first had been a walk in the park as he really was/is hard work. I’m glad that I’ve had the benefit of hindsight from having him second, I know that a lot of phases are just that, phases and I also know that whatever happens, I’ll be able to cope. I’ve spent many hours agonising over his negativity, moods and anxieties (he’s only 5), but as he gets older I worry less as he seems to be relaxing and coming out of some of these issues.

    I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a close friend when our babies were almost 1. We’d both read a book about the negative sides of motherhood and on every page I’d felt like the book was talking to me, the author knew how I felt. We started talking about it and my friend said, ‘I just didn’t get it, the author was so negative, my experience of motherhood is nothing like that’. I didn’t have the courage to speak up, but I knew then that despite sharing a lot over the previous months, we’d had a fundamentally different experience and it made me indescribably lonely. So just to say, don’t feel lonely, you have friends who understand what you are going through.
    .-= Victoria´s last blog ..How to blow a bubble bigger than your dog, your child and possibly even your husband =-.

  28. Oh, Josie, I’m sorry you feel so bad. I want to send you a big chocolate-covered hug! (Did that sound dirty? It wasn’t meant like that.) xxx
    .-= Mwa´s last blog ..Blurgh =-.

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