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.
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.