My day hasn’t quite gone to plan and I felt like I had a blog in me, and so i’m not really sure where this is going, but i’m sure there will be threads of mum guilt, deep thinking and gained perspective and so if you are here for the ride….here we go!
There is actually a blackbird in the window by the way, she (or he) visits every single day, several times, I often look up and she’s there, looking directly at me and I often think, ‘what are you thinking’ and ‘why do you always sit there watching us’ and looking at her just now kind of inspired this blog. Just in case you were wondering.
Sometimes as mums we feel the dreaded ‘mum guilt’ and most of the time it isn’t justified but it doesn’t stop us questioning if we are doing enough. Today I should have been travelling to Manchester to work with a speech pathologist that I met a couple of months ago via a zoom video conference focusing on Picture Exchange Communication Systems, as part of the Joanne Jones speech and language work we have been doing over the last 12 months. Today was a workshop with Karen Massey Therapies on Speech and Language Development specifically focusing on children with specific learning needs such as Autism, Verbal Dyspraxia and Down Syndrome. Unfortunately due to the logistics of nursery, my need for either me or Ash to remain close by and our crazy self-employed, business owning life where it is impossible to plan anything, I am no longer able to attend and I cannot help but feel guilty about it.
But the blackbird got me thinking, am I doing enough? What does she think whilst shes watching us? We never really see what everyone see’s do we, and I for one am self-critical and my expectations couldn’t be any higher, often unrealistic.
Austin and Rory wake in the morning, when it suits them, more often than not Austin wakes in the middle of Mummy and Daddy, all smiles, lots of cuddles. He’s there because he woke in the night feeling sad. It’s not every night, but if he needs it, i’m not going to push him away. Also, its not ideal leaving him in his room to wake Rory up. Once awake, Austin springs into action, going downstairs with Daddy for breakfast and playtime and Rory wakes in his own bed and lays there a while as he likes to ‘come round’ before he comes downstairs. And when he does get downstairs, he is usually alert and smiling telling us what he does and doesn’t want on his breakfast plate.
As soon as they get downstairs they choose their breakfast, usually a variety of cereals, pear, apple, toast, bread, pitta and milk and they graze most of the morning with Milkshake TV on in the background and anything from an hour to 3 hours of Daddy time. Before they have even left the house for their day at nursery to begin, they have usually done lots of playing with Daddy at their disposal, and this is their favourite time. They have usually rotated around the playroom and played with everything from playdough to playmobil, they often learn lots in this time too because they idolise Daddy and he is really good with them.
When I come downstairs, Daddy goes to shower, walk the dog, get ready for work and I make sure they have all of their care needs met, dressed in clean uniform that was set out the night before, school bag checked and packed lunch packed, teeth brushed, face washed. Restocking the medical bag and writing in Rory’s home-school book.
We leave for the nursery run and all the way there I am telling them which nursery we are going to, which friends will be there, what I expect from them when we get there. We spot aeroplanes and tractors or Di’s house along the way.
When we arrive at nursery, it is a bit of a military operation. I get Austin out of the car, put his coat on and stand him by the wall with the bags whilst I get Rory out and put his coat on and then we usher them both round the school yard to nursery. When Daddys work permits, he comes with us and it is always easier with an additional pair of hands, but we do have Jaime Rory’s PA who helps, usually carrying the bags. We now have a bag for life so that we are effectively only carrying two bags; the medical rucksack and the bag for life which has two lunch bags, two rucksacks and two welly bags inside.
Even on the days where I have somewhere to be; work, meetings, appointments, I am never in a rush to leave them unless they are settled and happy. I help settle the boys in…and then go. On the odd occasion that Austin has been sad, still after 30 minutes, I have left him with a practitioner whom I know he likes, for cuddles with them and I have watched through the window or called once I got home and every time he has been fine, as guilt-ridden as I was for leaving him crying. Most mums with children in nursery will know this feeling. It’s the pits!
I think sometimes we forget that at 3, sometimes when they get so embedded in a certain emotion, they aren’t yet able to self-control and turn it around without some form of distraction and I think me been there on these occasions has hindered rather than helped. I always ring around lunch time to check all is ok, as Jaime’s employer, who is relatively new to this, I like to know she is ok and happy and doesn’t have any concerns, but with us only having had one full week of attendance since September, it became the norm for me to collect the boys early or for me to have to bring more medical supplies or whatever, and so I ring at lunch time to try and predict my afternoon as to whether I will be needed earlier than home time.
At home time, I got into a bad habit of taking a gingerbread man to meet them. My motive for this was to get them back to the car, to get them home without falling asleep…but in hindsight it hasn’t helped with our food issues, because Austin especially would stock up on gingerbread men and then wouldn’t be hungry enough to try any food for tea. Now, I have already made them their tea, it is in the oven keeping warm, I don’t give them any snack, I usually put something on youtube on my phone for them in the car, to keep them awake on the way home. The car has always sent them to sleep.
When we get home, we sit down with their tea and I encourage them to eat by sitting with them. They often have their pads, to encourage them to sit at the table and whilst this is probably not the ‘right’ or ‘textbook’ thing to do, it has really helped the boys to sit and to eat real food, which we have always struggled with. Rory will eat a variety and is really good compared to Austin who will only eat dry, crunchy food like cereal and mini cheddars. We encourage Austin to win his medal by eating X amount of his tea to ‘win’ and this is working at the moment.
After tea until bathtime around 6:30pm, the boys are playing in their playroom, usually independently whilst I make the tea, unless Daddy is home from work early, or Nannie Di or Grandad calls for half an hour. I’m constantly interacting and dropping in and out to play games and do activities between checking the food and organising the kitchen.
At around 6PM when me and Ash sit down for our tea, after he has got home, walked the dog etc, the boys have cereal and milk for supper, brush their teeth and then go up for bath.
They have their bath with both me and Ash beside them every night. Bath and bed is always family time. We put their clean PJs on and do Rory’s trachy cares and then Daddy and Rory go to sleep in Rorys bed, and Me and Austin in our bed. We read stories, have cuddles and then sleep. Once the boys are both asleep, we suction Rory and then airlift Austin into his top bunk before leaving them for the night, usually around 7:30PM.
Weekends and school holidays and even actual holidays, wherever we may be are the same routine, except the bit in the middle is usually filled with adventure other than nursery.
The boys come first, always. We are always trying to help them with anything that they face in life, from trying new food to learning to breathe through your nose. Whatever it is, we are focused on them.
Like today, travelling to Manchester to meet with a speech pathologist to learn more about how we as parents can support Austin and Rory with their speech, language and communication.
So here I am, i’ve gained that perspective, i’ve thought about the blackbird’s opinion and yeah, mum guilt is derived from a fear of failing as a parent and fears are irrational. I’m being irrational.
So there you are, if you stuck with me until the end, welcome to blog therapy!
Mum guilt – be gone!