You are NOT a Bad Mother!!

You are NOT a Bad Mother!!

Motherhood is tough business and I wrote this article originally for Exceptional Parent Magazine, but I wanted to share it with all of you who may not have seen it, and may benefit from it.

You are NOT a bad mother!!— Exceptional Parent 2008

Whoever said, “motherhood is not for wimps” had it right.  You are loved.  You are hated. You are needed.  You are rejected.  You are thanked.  You are ignored. You cannot eat, go to the bathroom or have a conversation, that there is not an audience otherwise engaging you.

And you chose to do this (90% of the time)!!

It is not a “25-year” job, it is lifetime and it has been my experience, perhaps beyond.

It is a commitment unlike any other and it carries with a responsibility that can be, at times, overwhelming.   Even all the more so when that little bundle you carried home from the hospital with such promise begins to grow and develop behaviors, or concerns that weren’t part of the “original bargain”.

“Mrs. _________, your child is acting out in class.  He hits (or bites) other children.  Mothers are complaining.  If you don’t do something we will have to ask you to take your child out of the school.”

“Mrs. ____________, Sally just isn’t trying.  She is obstinate and oppositional and you must do something about her behavior!”

These and similar comments are devastating.  What are you doing wrong that every other child can function in school, but yours?  The one thing you really set out to do well you are failing at.  There, conspicuously out in the open for everyone to see—that, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

This leaves you feeling that YOU are a bad mother.  Everyone else does it better and why is it only your child who is acting out.

Well, I am here to tell you, you are not a bad mother. So “GET OVER IT”. Your child is who they were meant to be—flaws and all.  No one is perfect and that is true for you as well.

The issue isn’t  “is there something wrong”, but how can my child be nurtured so that they can become what they want to be?

The Silver Screen version of childhood is an illusion.  It is hard work growing up.  In the short span of those first five years children have to learn to eat, play, listen and get along.  And if that child has a learning issue the job of growing up is all that much harder.

A child with an auditory processing disorder may not hear the world as you and I, making verbal directions may sound like static on a bad radio.  Visual processing disorders may cause a child not to be able to hold a steady gaze so everything may appear as if it is on a rocking boat.  Sensory motor disorders may make them more sensitive to the touch, so a “bump” may feel like a  “hit”.  Word retrieval issues can easily be interpreted as a child who is shy (or aloof) when in fact, they cannot find the words to say. These children are often seen as “acting out”, when in truth they are only reacting to what they perceive to be “reality”. Albeit their reality is skewed, but it is real to them.

It is essential for these children to have structured learning situations so that they can thrive and not just survive the school day. 

But how do you get there, and to whom do you turn to for guidance?  Seeking out occupational and speech therapists are wonderful first steps.  They can help explain to both you and the teachers how your child is seeing their world.  Once that vision is established understanding can evolve and accommodations can be made.

In order for children to learn, they must first know how to play and in order for children to seek to play, it must be fun. A child coping with developmental issues is not having fun. Everyday is a struggle.  Every interaction is potentially threatening, holding within it the possibility of failure, ridicule and rejection.

If you felt that way how would you act?  Think about that!  This is not about you, Mom, and those that want to make it a reflection on your ability as a mother, are deeply misguided.

So suck it up, hold your head high, and be proud of your child and yourself. Your child is busy doing the job of becoming—and it is just harder for some children than others