friendship

"I let down my little boy, but don't call me a bad mum."

I know this little boy. He has my eyes. My smile. My husband’s adventurous spirit. His hair and height. He wants to know how EVERYTHING works. He’s obsessed with cars and building.

He’s everything I imagined he’d be. He’s our first little love, our son. He means the world to me.

And yet, I feel like I’ve failed him.

Apparently he is behind in his speech. And I completely missed it.

Siobhan's two children. Image supplied.

It wasn’t until my nearly two-year-old’s child care teacher made a point of saying he had a lot less words than some of the other kids, then insinuated I was a bad mum (gee, THANKS), that I realised something might be wrong.

I’ve been kinda busy. We had our second baby five months ago, so we've had two kids under 17 months. She’s had a lot of reflux. We moved house. I’ve kept working. I got post natal depression. Phew.

Our son has had a lot of ear infections, some of which I haven’t even noticed. How can you notice, when sometimes the only symptom is them whinging? Ummmm, they’re a toddler, of course they’re going to whinge a lot! It’s called the terrible twos for a reason.

He’s been behaving terribly. But now, that kinda makes sense. I figure he’s super frustrated with not being able to talk as much as the other kids, and as much as he ‘should’, so is behaving badly to get his frustration out. He’s actually bitten someone. And pinched. My child, a biter. Jesus, I never thought that would happen.

Siobhan and her son. Image supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT

I do feel guilty. Very guilty. I wonder if I would have missed it had he still been our only child. The fact that I’m making so many excuses for not noticing shows just how bad I feel.

But I’m onto it now. We’re seeing a specialist to get his hearing checked out properly and work out what we can do about his ‘murky’ ears. He’s always been obsessed with books (YAY) as we read to him from birth. In the last few weeks, I’ve been making an effort to get him to repeat words and we’ve bought a few new word and letter books.

Siobhan and her husband with their son on Christmas morning. Image supplied.

You know what though? After a few weeks of feeling like such a bad mum, I'm not beating myself up about it anymore. Because I can't be on top of everything all of the time. There is a limit to how much us mums can do all at once! We’re expected to be housekeeper, educator, comforter, cook, cleaner, shopper, entertainer, you name it…all at once. I’m not complaining, not at all. But it’s just super busy, you know?

And despite what people say about developmental milestones, surely some kids just develop different to others? It's obvious that children grow and develop at different rates. Most skills and events happen in the same order, but when they happen might vary for each child and what is ‘normal’ varies a lot. For example, the normal age range for children to start walking is 8-18 months.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in two years of being a mum, is that one day your child can’t do something…and the next day it could be a completely different story.

Now that our baby’s reflux has gone, I’m devoting a lot more time to my boy. I think I wasn’t as tuned into him for a little while there, not as much as I once was. I’m sorry, little buddy. But I also know that you’ll get there, in your own sweet time. And I’m right there with you.

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???