I’m a Failure as a Mother

With mother’s day approaching, it is important to talk about mothers. I saw a joke that said “Dads can do so little and get credit for it. Women can do something little and become villains for it.” It’s true though, isn’t it? “Oh… you formula fed your child? You must not love them enough to sacrifice your time and energy to nurse.” “What do you mean that you like to cover up when you nurse? Do you like eating with a hood over your head?” First of all, I do. In fact, I have a hood on over my head while eating a PopTart that my son didn’t finish but I couldn’t bring to throw away while children are starving while drinking a coffee. (deep breath) “Oh, you don’t baby wear?” “Oh, you’re babywearing wrong, you’re a freaking monster.” I could really go on and on about this, but I feel that my sarcasm got the point across just fine so far.

Most days, I think I have my stuff together. I nail my work deadlines. My kids are doing well in school and their various activities. But my house is a literal disaster zone most days but I only have so much energy to clean when I know 10 minutes later a teenager and a 5-year-old are going to tear through the area and destroy everything that I have worked so hard for. It’s like building a nice card house; it took you forever and it only takes 2 seconds to have a room full of cards. Luckily my kids are nice to me, they skip the card house and just throw the cards, the box, and anything else that they can on the floor. It’s more efficient that way.

I cook good meals, most days. Some days I give up and just make mac & cheese because I gave up on life that day. But I try really hard. Most of the time, it’s nothing organic though. That’s way to expensive and confusing to me, plus I’m certain organic is just used as a marketing ploy to steal my money. I’m too smart for that, mostly.

Most days, I feel like a failure. That’s easy when your kids learn to say “You’re the worst mom ever.” I know, how dare I expect you to do things like wear pants. I go downstairs and see a basket of laundry that I swore I was going to bring upstairs yesterday to fold and put away. I’m pretty sure that basket is still downstairs. I don’t even remember anymore. My youngest thinks his clothes just magically appear in his closet. Which doesn’t matter because his clothes are apparently not good enough anyways.

Through all of the tears (mostly mine), it’s hard not to feel like a failure. You could do 100000 things right during the day and in the one moment you fail, you think that you really are the worst mom in the world. Here’s a little secret though: You’re probably not. I always tell my friends (and myself) when we’re having those “slump days” as moms, remember these things:

  • Did you try to feed your kid?
  • Did you try to wash your kid?
  • Did you try to read to them/spend some quality time with them?
  • Did you all make it through the day relatively unscathed?

Then you did it. All you can do is try. I served my kids an amazing meal. I can’t force them to eat it. That’s not my failure. They were picky that day. They can fend for themselves if they don’t want it. Is my kid wearing the only two socks that were remotely clean, maybe not really and they don’t match? Probably. Does that mean I’m a failure? Not to me, he was given breakfast, hugs, kisses, and is off to school on time with only a few tears from both of us. My sanity was mostly intact. Does that mean I’m a failure to you? Probably, but I did mention that I have a teenager and 5-year-old right? I don’t care if I’m a failure to you. I don’t have time to.

Happy Mother’s Day, because even if everything has gone wrong today they still love you the next.

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Failing Our Children

As a parent, you’re supposed to love your children. Loving them isn’t special or noteworthy; it’s human. Not loving your child just makes you something else. Loving your child does not make you a good parent; all that other stuff does. The times that you really want to sleep but stay awake with your vomiting toddler and comforting them. The times when you think you’re dying of a cold but take as much medicine as you need to suck it up because your children don’t take a time out just because you need to. Parenting is really about every fight that you do to better your child’s life in even the slightest way. Those fights and struggles are what makes a good parent.

From the moment my youngest was born, I knew I was going to have to fight harder than ever. From the beginning, he had issues that we knew that would require some amount of strength, though thankfully nothing too serious. We knew he had a minor birth defect that would need repair. We visited the specialist every few months until his surgery and spent the longest day of our lives waiting to bring him home. We had hoped that we could just be after that.

As far as his motor skills were concerned, he was always advanced and impressed his doctors. From the beginning, it was clear that he was his own person and to hell with everyone else. It wasn’t until his first birthday that I had any concerns about him, aside from having surgery at 9 months old. The minute you find out your child has any sort of developmental delay, you wonder what you could have done to prevent it. You try everything in your power to fix it, because as a parent, you want to fix everything to help your child. We tried everything: we read more, we got programs for tablets and computers, I started to go about my day as if I were a sports announcing describing even the most mundane activity aloud to help him. Six months later, nothing had worked and we left the doctor’s office deflated. She referred us to Early Intervention. Soon after, we did the evaluations and we started with a developmental specialist. Nothing. He learned how to sign, which was great to at least help us communicate a little. After a few months, she decided to add-on a speech pathologist to his developmental team. After a few weeks, there seemed to be limited improvement. We had a neuropsych evaluation to see if he was autistic, nothing. Finally, he started picking up language little by little and I firmly believe that these interventions are the difference.

We did all our “homework”. I sit through 2 sessions a week, watching on as they help my son. At age 3, he will age out of this program that has helped him so immensely. The specialists agree he’s not where he needs to be, but at 3, there is nothing more they can do for us. So we started the steps to get into the “transitioning” program. This helps EI (Early Intervention) kids move into preschool to continue services. They will get an IEP, and get free preschool. This would be huge for George, as there is a fear from everyone that he could regress without continued services. Our Early Intervention team has no say in what happens now. We did the evaluations at the school, we did the meetings, and the day has come for their decision. Getting into this school system’s particular program is notoriously difficult, and everyone has been very upfront about that. All I can do is hope.

This leads to a bigger issue with the education system that I had written about in my last Education class in college. It was a class about special needs. Our final paper was about teaching special needs, and we had to pick a topic from a list of papers. I was the last one to get the list, and I had discovered that there was one particular group that no one was doing a paper on: the gifted and talented kids. This group of children are especially ignored, because people think that they are smart so they don’t need help. Realistically, these children need an IEP just as much as any other kid with special needs. Since they don’t, they are often set up for failure. That is the fault of our schools, not truly “leaving no child behind”. My son, who is too young to be labeled as such, as shown skills and thought processes far beyond his age and his specialists note that. I fear that this will hurt his chances of getting the help he needs. I fear that him not getting in this program will set him up for failure in the future. My biggest fear, is that he will regress back to what his language was before he received help, and he will be disregarded when he starts school because they don’t realize his true potential because of a lack of speech.

I will go into this meeting with my head high, and fight as  much as I can. I’m tired though. I’m tired of fighting. But he needs this, and I need to fight for him because I know no one else will. That is what makes a good parent: the fight.