JUDGE YOUR OWN REALITY

There are so many people and things to think about in life. Whether it’s your family, your job, or your health, just to name a few! There are so many things that have to function and coexist at the same time. You ever feel like you just cant do it? I do, all the time. Every once in a while I feel like I’m superwoman and no one can touch me, but that’s few and far between. Seriously, for the majority of the days my neighbors see my in oversized t-shirts (most of which are covered in some sort of food or fluid), slippers, and ninja turtle PJ shorts. I probably have them so concerned. Add a ridiculously messy bun and I look like THAT mom. The one that you see on the YouTube videos looking like a hot mess who can’t get her shit together. I’ll have days where I feel like I accomplished a lot and it was productive, like days I combed my hair or got my contacts in, but for the most part I’m constantly trying to figure out how to juggle just one more thing.

Nothing adds to the chaos of motherhood more than having children who have additional needs. I know I am not the only mom rocking the disheveled mom look. I also know that I am probably judged all the time for it. For those that judge, just know that you are only seeing a glimpse of what motherhood is about. You have no idea how hard that mom your judging is trying to keep it all together. You have no idea how much harder it is to keep it together when you have kids with extenuating circumstances. And besides, what is my messy bun and teenage mutant ninja turtle shirts doing to you anyway?

I realized, that up to this point, I have never really mentioned Michael Jr. and his struggles with speech, which I see as a blessing and a curse, I’ll explain the blessing part later. Michael has struggled with stuttering since he was about 2 and a half years old. We started to notice it when we would read him books at night. He usually had no problem at all picking out the dinosaurs we were reading about and telling us exactly what their names were. Then all of the sudden he started to struggle. We casually mentioned it to the pediatrician and they told us that a certain level of stuttering is normal, as kids get older. They start to learn more words and it can be a bit overwhelming for them. I wanted to believe that Michael’s issue wasn’t actually an issue, but I knew deep down it was. Pretty soon Michael was starting to stutter more frequently and he was getting frustrated. He would jump up and down to try and get the words out and sometimes even cry. He would punch his hands on things as if he needed to do so to get his words out. He would scrunch his face up so tight like his life depended on getting out what he was trying to say. It was heart wrenching.  It was than that I pushed the issue and wanted to get him evaluated to receive early intervention.

Michael’s speech has caused some tension between my husband and I. My husband also had a stuttering problem when he was a child, which he eventually needed extra help with when he was in grade school. Which was all the more reason, in my mind, to go and seek help for Michael. But for Mike, I think it was like adding salt to an old wound. I could see that Mike felt like it was his fault that Michael had this issue, almost as if Mike passed on a stuttering gene to him. I would feel frustrated and sad all at the same time while we would discuss what was best for Michael. It was so hard to see it take not only a huge toll on Michael, but on Mike as well. I knew it was eating him alive watching Michael struggle to talk. Mike has walked in those shoes and he remembers how awful they were. He remembers being terrified to be called on in class to read. He remembers the snickering and the teasing. He knows what Michael might possibly face, so I think it’s easier for him to cling to the hope of Michael outgrowing it, rather than getting help to fix the issue. Thankfully after a few arguments he admitted what he knew all along, that Michael needs help. So help is what we got him starting when he was 2 and a half

Fast forward to present day, Michael Jr is 4 and a half and still struggling. He has been receiving extra services for speech and for a while it seemed to be really helping him. But more recently he has been getting much worse.  On one occasion he actually stopped talking and told me he was stuck and he couldn’t say what he wanted to say. I about burst into tears while I was washing the dishes. Nothing is harder than seeing your child struggle and there is nothing you can do to help him. I wish I could slow his mind down. I can tell him over and over to try and slow down and think before he speaks, but how is that easy for a 4 year old?! I can barely do that and I am 29!  I just wish that there was something I could do to help him. I finally started to realize why Michael never tells new friends what his name is, or asks them what their name is. It’s because he is avoiding being put on the spot and stuttering in front of them.

I guess I never mentioned Michael’s speech issue before because I never really saw a need to. But then I think about that last sentence I just wrote and realize that’s exactly why it should be mentioned. Just because Michael looks perfectly fine on the outside, does not mean he is. People take for granted simple things such as saying their name or how old they are. And I, as a busy mother, sometimes forget how hard situations can be for him, because by all other accounts he is a “normal” four year old.

Up until now my blogs are usually focused on Owen and his syndrome. I realize that sometimes Michael gets shuffled back into the deck of cards when he shouldn’t be. Simply because his needs aren’t as intense as Owens are in comparison. I have really tried to be aware of when that happens and tried not to make his stuttering seem like its no big deal. Could you imagine if that was an issue you struggled with? I don’t know how I would cope with knowing I am trying to say something but it just wont come out of my mouth.

Owen is also receiving speech therapy. This is where the blessing part comes in. Even though Owen is still little his tongue is still large, even after having over 2 inches removed. He can’t say words like Mama because he can’t touch his lips together. Owen has a long road ahead of him when it comes to his tongue and learning how to talk. There have been struggles already and there will no doubt be some more. He quite possibly is looking at another tongue surgery in a year or so.  We don’t know yet if Owen will have stuttering issues like his older brother and their dad. What we do know is that he will have difficulty talking and he will struggle with speech. For Owen to be able to look at his older brother and father and relate to them in that way is a blessing in disguise. I hope that their individual struggles with speech can be something that helps them and makes their bond even stronger. They will hopefully be able to relate to each other on a level that most people without speech issues wouldn’t be able to relate to. I hope that the boy’s struggles with speech teach them empathy for other children who grow up struggling with something. I hope it makes them compassionate and accepting towards others. I also hope that people who read this and still think that things like this aren’t worth talking about or aren’t a big deal receive a change of heart. People have silent struggles everyday. Acting like those struggles don’t exist, or their not enough of a struggle to talk about only makes that struggle worse. It has taken me a while to realize that. Yes, I know that there are kids much worse off then both of my boys, but why should that make whatever they are going through any less important or any less worth mentioning?

So to the people who judge the disheveled looking moms who look like they are hanging on by a thread, maybe they are! Maybe they have so much going on behind their cute front porches that wearing PJs and slippers to let the dogs out or take out the trash is about all they could muster at that moment. Cut them some slack. Realize that not everything is as you see it. Just because your eyes see children that “look” like nothing is wrong doesn’t mean that’s their mother’s reality, and her reality is what matters, not the reality you see….

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