The Scary Notions of Motherhood
It has been difficult to write anything related to the below topic lately; I guess when I begin, I keep pausing, deleting, or starting over as I just don’t know where to begin. I don’t know how to continue writing without a hodge-podge of thoughts developing, with no central theme forming. Yet, when I truly reflect, I suppose I do know where to start. Simply this:
I am scared.
Daily, my emotions are a balance between thrilled to see my son grow, yet worried about the avenue he will take to get there. I’m exhausted from defending myself to those closest to me (or those whom I believed were), yet relieved by those who I barely know choosing to raise me up. I constantly wonder if I’m “that Mom,” as I lose myself in a flood of tears at the pediatricians office, or as I ramble onward about my son to the stranger who unknowingly opened the proverbial ‘Pandoras Box.’ By the end of the day, I’m just left wondering, “am I losing it? Have I gone mad?”
To back up, since our son was born, we’ve struggled to figure out how to help him. His constant crying was shrugged as colic during the early months, his severe reflux was masked with medication after medication. Since he always gained weight, my concerns were often brushed off. When he started missing common milestones, I was told “he’s just on his own timeline, we’ll keep an eye on it.” I switched from pediatrician-to-pediatrician hoping someone would take me seriously, and not chalk it up to “this is normal for a first time mom.” It wasn’t until his 12-month appointment, with a complete breakdown of epic proportion, did the pediatrician take me seriously.
Our son was referred to Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Neurology, the Allergist, and GI. In the midst of such, those closest to us provided advice that did more harm than good, despite it being provided with the best of intentions. It left us questioning our stance as parents, whether we were doing the “right thing,” or if we had truly “gone mad.” With each appointment, it was a battle between doing what was right based on societal expectations, prior experiences by others, and a “mothers gut instinct.” I have let my gut rule the pathway in finding answers and support for my son, but that doesn’t come without heartache that you question your decisions (and lots of tears).
Eventually, I found hope that I wasn’t “crazy” when our son was finally diagnosed with an ‘unknown disorder of the autonomic nervous system,’ otherwise labeled as a Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as Hypotonia, or low muscle tone. While both are quite common, as we all process experiences differently, the degree of his has him flagged for potential Autism by several of his providers. At this age, they can’t diagnosis such, so its a matter of “wait and see,” combined with providing early intervention if possible. And that is where I’m scared. Autism? How? Why? That is where my fear lies. Then I am left wondering, does this make me a horrible Mother? To feel this way?
After each appointment, I’m left feeling proud of the progess our son has made, but also heartbreakingly aware of so much; aware of his delays, of the struggles of being compared to others, of his approach to otherwise typical occurances. I often don’t know how to handle all my emotions towards it as I feel guilty, guilty that I did something to cause these issues. Guilty for feeling scared, for I know the path for some children with such can be so incredibly hard.
Right now, though, I struggle because I see milestons of others’ children being reached, as our son does such on a different timeline. I struggle hearing from others, “oh’, he doesn’t do that yet?” I struggle explaining to others why he needs interventions, or the progress he made.
By the end of it all, when someone asks me how motherhood has been going, I just respond vaguely with a “great!” Because where do you begin? How do you tell them you’re scared?