Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy 

Once again I need to start by apologising for neglecting my poor little blog. Life has been quite hectic and I just haven’t found the time but I’m back now. 

So, since my last post on Omar, (Finding Out Your Child Has Learning Disabilities) which was about a month ago, there have been some developments. The main one being: we have some more words!!! For such a long time he would only say  two words (oh no and ball) but over the past 4 or so weeks this has increased to 20 words! (Not that I’m counting or anything.) His receptive language (understanding) also seems to have improved a lot and he generally just seems to be engaging more. The little toad still hasn’t said mama though, I’m so desperate for that word to come!

  
I’m not sure whether these steps forward he has taken can be put down to the brilliant speech therapist we have started to see; an online video program we started called Gemiini; or whether it was just time for him to start talking more. But I’m just so glad he’s moving in the right direction and we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and hope it continues. 

With each new word he says I get ridiculously excited and it lifts me for the whole day. The first new word he said spontaneously was cat. We were walking down the street and he pointed to a cat and said ‘cat’. I wasn’t quite sure I’d heard it right and didn’t dare believe it. But then later that day he also said cake and balloon. I was so overjoyed but didn’t dare revel in it too much in case it was a fluke and he’d be stuck on those words for months and months and months, the same way he was with ‘oh no’ and ‘ball’.

But his words continued to increase and I’m so proud of him. I make him work hard with the tasks the speech therapist has given us but we make it fun too and so far so good. 

  
He also had an appointment with a paediatrician a few weeks ago. She was great and spent over an hour with us. She saw Omar in action; he was in a whirlwind mood and kept filling toy pans up in the doctor’s hand washing basin and then trying to soak her with them (I know it shouldn’t have been funny but it so was). He also managed to hit her on the head twice with a ball, clapping and cheering afterwards both times (which leads me to believe her head was the target). Anyway, she didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know in terms of his development. He is delayed. We knew that. But she did say ‘he doesn’t have autism’. She actually said it like that. Not that she doesn’t think/believe/suspect he has autism. Just that he hasn’t got it. I don’t know whether she’s able to know that just from one hour with him; I thought a team of people would need to be involved to make that kind of decision. But anyway, that particular paediatrician doesn’t think Omar’s on the spectrum and neither does his speech therapist. Honestly, I don’t think he is either. I’m not ruling it out though. Just in case. His behaviour definitely isn’t typical but it doesn’t seem to fit with autism either. I’m stumped to be honest. 

 

First day of his new pre school
 
Omar has started at a new pre school recently too and the staff there are so supportive. He’s only been 6 times so far but I’ve got high hopes about the place. I’m especially hoping they can help with his challenging behaviour. They seem firmer with him than his last nursery and are working on boundaries, which can only be a good thing because he has no concept of them at the moment. 

So at 2 years 10 months Omar says 20 words spontaneously and copies around another 5. I know this is waaaay behind typical kids his age but he is talking and at one point I genuinely feared that he never would. His 25 words bring me joy. 

On the way home from pre school, when he points to a tree and says ‘tree’ I’m so so thrilled. I’m ecstatic! I’m walking on air! Until behind us, I hear a child younger than him taking in full sentences, telling their parents what they did that day. 

Then it hits me again how delayed Omar is and the grief comes creeping back in. 

So I have to block all other children out at the moment. Because comparison is the thief of joy and I won’t let anything steal this joy. For now, other children are irrelevant. Even yours. Sorry. I will still be pleased for you when they reach a milestone or make you proud. I will like your Facebook posts and leave kind comments on your Instagram photos. And I’m not being fake, I am genuinely celebrating that achievement with you. But I’m ignoring the age of your child and I’m oblivious to their stage of development. It’s the only way at the moment. I need to preserve my joy. 

I hope you understand. 

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Rusky Business (Project 366 – Day 37)

  

I know it’s not the done thing these days to give your baby a rusk but Zaki had one and he absolutely loved it! He was making all kinds of appreciative chomping noises and actually cried when he’d finished it, haha!

Weaning has been more difficult with Zaki than it was with Omar. To start with he wasn’t keen on solids AT ALL. He would spit everything out and screw his face up. After about 3 weeks he got used to eating and would tolerate it but still wouldn’t put anything in his mouth of his own accord, so baby led weaning was out. 

5 weeks on and the situation is much easier now. He will happily gnaw away on toast, banana, courgettes and of course rusks!

  

The Mama That Raised This Mama (Project 366 – Day 27)

  
I persuaded my mum to let me take her photo for Project 366. But she didn’t like any of the pictures I took so I downloaded an app called Perfect365 and airbrushed her! With one tap the app gave her a full face of make up (she was wearing none) and whitened her teeth! Who knew this was possible?! What a time to be alive! 

Anyway, this is my good old (airbrushed) mum and she’s golden. She’s the main reason I can’t move away from this little town I live in. She helps a lot with childcare and my boys would miss her so much if we moved away. As would I. 

Plus, on the day I took this photo she paid me two compliments. 1 – she told me she’d read some of my blog and enjoyed it and some parts made her laugh. 2 – she said my hair never looks greasy. I was overjoyed to receive both counts of such praise! (Although deep down I know she’s biased about the blog and my hair looks like an oil slick half the time.)

Like all mums with their kids, mine does my head in sometimes but I know I’m so lucky to have her so close by. She’s a genuinely kind person and she’s put up with a lot of crap from me over the years. She’s one in a million. 

I didn’t appreciate what she had done for me or what she felt for me until I became a mother myself and when that feeling hit me I instantly felt racked with guilt for all the worry I’ve put her through and all the times I’d been a total cow. 

If you’re stalking me again, sorry mum. Sorry  for all the terrible behaviour. And thank you. Thank you for never disowning me and doing me loads of favours all the time and basically keeping my life ticking over. 

Some of my friends have been less fortunate than me on the mum front and it’s so sad that some women are blessed with children they don’t value. The damage a crappy parent can do is immeasurable. But on the flip side, those friends are amazing mums themselves, determined that their kids will have much lovelier childhoods than they did. 

Here’s to my mum and all the other mums who do their best. 

When it’s Selfish for Mothers to go Back to Work

Being a stay at home mum was never part of my plan. I spent a lot of time, energy and money becoming a qualified solicitor. I had grand plans. I’d be a city girl, a high flyer wearing designer threads as I slayed my opponents in court before marching out in my Jimmy Choos. (Look, I am a socialist but I like nice stuff too, ok?)

Look at this lady having a lovely time at work.

Anyway, the plan started to go a bit wrong when I moved from a city to my small home town and cut my legal teeth at a high street firm here. What followed was marriage and a baby. And then another. 

And now I’m a stay at home mum. Not a Jimmy Choo in sight. (What’s the point? They’d only get covered in crayon and milk spit up.)

Going back to work (as in paid work – we all know raising kids is still actual work) is something I think about a lot. I suppose I’ve never really gotten comfortable with being defined as only a mother. Yes, that’s my most important job, raising humans is a big deal and a lot of responsibility. Not just to them but to the world (I don’t want to rear psychopaths then let them loose to wreak havoc on civilisation one day,  obviously). But to let it be my only job doesn’t sit well with me. I suppose I feel the need to have something just for myself, if that makes any kind of sense. 

Please don’t mistake this for me having no respect for stay at home mums (and dads for that matter) and their decision to stay at home out of choice. I get how important it is for some people and judge them in no way. Some stay at home mum’s thrive but I’m not one of them; I’m crap at baking and I don’t have a crafty bone in my body. 

So I’ve explored going back to work. I’ve looked into the childcare options. I’ve worked out pick up and drop off times. And here’s the thing; no one would benefit from it except for me. 

If I worked locally I would have to drop the kids off at childcare at 8am and collect them at 6pm (maybe 5.30pm at a push). So that’s ten hours a day they would be in someone else’s charge. That’s the vast majority of their waking hours. After childcare it would be home, dinner, bed, bath – I’d barely see them. And that’s if I actually finished work when I was supposed to. Most lawyers take work home with them to finish as well, it’s the nature of the job. Yes, I’d have weekends, but that’s about it. 

The cost of 50 hours per week for childcare for two children would be around £460 per week. Despite popular opinion the average high street lawyer doesn’t make a huge amount of money, which means it would actually cost me financially to go back to work. If I worked part time, it would still cost me. 

The other option is if I worked out of town. The nearest two cities are just over  an hour’s commute away. Totally doable.  My salary would be a fair bit higher but I’d spend even less time with the kids. I’d may as well get a live in nanny. Which just makes me think, why did I have them in the first place if I’m going to let other people raise them? And as well as the live in nanny I’d doubtless need a cleaner, otherwise I’d be spending those precious weekends cleaning and ironing and what not. 

So to go back to work it seems I would have to either make my family generally poorer or outsource most other parts of my life (and possibly still make us poorer). And as the only person who would benefit from me working is me, I really can’t justify it. It would just be selfish. 

I chose to have my children, a decision I’ve never for a second regretted, so if that means I’m a stay at home mum for a while then so be it. The Jimmy Choos will just have to wait. 

Tax Hell (Project 366 – Day 15)

I’m pretty sure I’m one of the most disorganised people on the planet. I seem to function best when I’m in a last-minute panic and “the fear” has set in. “The fear” being the terrifying prospect that I’m going to miss the deadline/bus/wedding. All of my best uni assignments were done at the very last minute and any exam revision I did was done the night before. My method works, I get decent results. But it’s bloody stressful. 

Which brings me to today’s photo, which in itself is stressful to even look at: 

  
My husband owns a shop and I do pretty much all of the admin stuff, including the tedious tax return. In true Me style I’ve left it until the last minute, which means I’m now spending every free minute trying to get it done before the looming deadline.

It’s quite handy in a way though because the deadline is just before my birthday, which usually means my husband is so relieved I’ve done it on time that I get a decent present. Win! Told you my method yields decent results 😁.

My Baby Looks Like Tim Off Corrie (and I only have myself to blame)

My baby looks like Tim off Corrie and I only have myself to blame. (And not because Tim off Corrie is the dad.)

   
 You may not totally see it in these photos but I can assure you that at times, my 4 month old baby boy is the spit of Tim off Corrie. Or Tim Metcalfe, as he probably prefers to be known (because it’s his real name.)

And I know why this has happened. It’s because I was mean. While I was pregnant I was mean about another baby. I giggled to my sister that a baby looked like Tim off Corrie and I provided her with screenshot evidence to prove it. That baby did indeed look like Tim off Corrie but as karma dictates, now too, so does my baby. 

But it’s ok. I still think my baby is cute so all it really means is that I now regard Tim off Corrie as cute. (Mothers are wired so that we find our own children the cutest little beings on earth aren’t we? Probably a throw back to cave men times so we don’t reject them or something.) 

My baby may or may not be a cutie but who cares? To me he’s a scrumptious little Tim off Corrie.

Anyway, moral of the story: don’t be mean about babies or you’ll get a Tim off Corrie one. (Which actually is no bad thing.)

He doesn’t always look like Tim off Corrie, see?

When Silence Isn’t Golden

My son is two and a half years old and he doesn’t talk. He doesn’t say mummy, he doesn’t say daddy. He never has. At the moment the only thing he does say is “oh no”.

As a baby he babbled away, giggled and cooed when I expected him to; there was no sign that he would be late talking or that anything was wrong.


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With each day that goes by without him saying anything I get that little bit more worried and that little bit more sad. I’m desperate to have little chats with him; to hear about what he did at nursery; to listen to the nonsense that 2 years olds come out with. I feel like we’re missing out on so much. And I feel guilty. Did I do something wrong? Did I not chat to him enough? Did I chat too much so that he couldn’t get a word in?

Last night I dreamt that he was singing along to ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ whilst doing the actions and I was so so happy in that dream.

Until about 4 months ago I didn’t worry at all. He was so good at other things I just thought he was a late talker and he’d soon be chatting away. But when his 27 month check up came around with the health visitor he was extremely behind when it came to speech and language. That included understanding. He didn’t understand simple instructions. He understands more now (get your shoes, get your cup, etc.) but he’s still very behind. And my fear is that he won’t catch up; that he won’t ever talk normally.

I’m a natural born worrier and when I’m faced with something I don’t know much about I read and I research. Inevitably that means a lot of Internet research, which isn’t always a good thing. So far I’ve convinced myself that my boy has several different disorders (speech apraxia, autism, even brain damage) and occasionally convinced myself that actually he is fine and any day now I’ll hear that word I’m so desperate to hear; mama.

We have a speech therapist involved and my son goes to a really good Montisorri nursery 3 afternoons a week and they’re really trying to help him along too. We follow all the advice given; my sister bought him lots of different flash cards; my brother tries to encourage speech through play with his favourite toys; but so far nothing. And it’s really hard to keep up the enthusiasm when you’re faced with a wall of silence.

My family and some close friends know how much the issue is affecting me as a mum. And I end up explaining it to other people too, for example when a friendly old lady in a shop tries to talk to him. “Sorry, he’s not being rude, it’s just that he doesn’t talk yet, he’s got a speech therapist, I’m sure it won’t be long now, he says ‘oh no’…”. I end up with verbal diarrhoea to compensate for my boy’s lack of speech.

People tell me not to worry because worrying won’t change anything. Well, yes, I know that, but to get my brain to chill out about this I’d probably have to be sedated. When it comes to our kids how can we not worry?

And the biggest worry is that he won’t ever talk properly and he won’t lead a happy life. Everything will be harder for him, he won’t be “normal”. It probably sounds dramatic but I’m being honest and laying out my fears. And I know this might seem like something trivial to be fretting over to another parent whose child has a severe disability for example, and I get that, but for us right now for me this is my biggest worry.

For now I just have to keep encouraging him and keep hoping speech will come. On the one hand I’m told that the earlier the intervention the better the outcome but on the other hand no diagnosis can usually be made before a child is 3. It’s really frustrating not knowing what the problem is but the thought of him being diagnosed and labelled almost has me in tears too.

Sorry for the melancholy post, I just felt the need to share. And maybe someone might read who has some helpful advice. Although if I hear “well Einstein didn’t talk until he was four” one more time I reserve the right to climb the nearest tree and lob apples at people’s heads indiscriminately.

  

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