Single Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is my third Mother’s Day as a mother and I already know it will be my favourite. 


In the past, Mother’s Day presents I’ve received have included Chanel sunglasses, Vivienne Westwood jewellery and expensive perfume. This year I will receive a £3.99 succulent plant bought by me, for me. Because I know my babies would if they could. 

The expensive presents were purchased begrudgingly by my soon to be ex-husband. Bought out of guilt, or maybe just to throw in my face at some future point in time when he needed a way to prove to me that I was the terrible person and he was the good person. The joy of the lovely present would soon become tainted and I knew that the minute I opened it. 

The past three Mother’s Days have been tense affairs. Any celebration or ‘event’ was always a tense affair. Each and every single time, without fail, my husband would start an argument with me to ruin the day. Mother’s Day was no exception. 

I can’t remember how any of the arguments started but I remember how they all ended. With me in tears, feeling desperate, alone and like I had no way out. I would sit there as he bellowed at me for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, maybe an hour. As his voice was booming in my ears I would be fantasising about ways I could break out of the hell I was living. But at that time I wasn’t strong enough and it was just a fantasy to think I could get away. I was deep under his control. 

There was no point trying to leave, he would follow me. If I tried to defend myself I was ‘making it worse’ and if I ignored his screamed questions I was ‘disrespecting’ him. I absolutely could not win. 

The expensive presents meant nothing. Actually it was worse than that; they meant I was still under his control. They meant I would spend the day walking on eggshells waiting for his inevitable explosion into a fit of rage. They reminded me that he could control my day with his moods and arguments and I couldn’t do a thing about it. 

Until I did. Until I threw him out. Until I found the strength for myself and my children and I threw him out. 

So tomorrow there will be no expensive presents. There will be no fit of rage. Not in this house anyway. There will be no tension, no anxiety, no sense of foreboding, no crying. 

There will just be me and my boys. Loving each other and spending the day feeling happy and lucky and grateful for our succulent plant. 

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Saying Nothing Says A Lot 

I get it. Talking about learning difficulties is awkward and uncool. People don’t know what to say so they just skip past it, as if I haven’t even spoken. I do get it. 

But I still get pissed off. It still pisses me off that my thoughts and feelings aren’t acknowledged. Not because I’m important and deserve to be heard, but because I’m seemingly being ignored while parents of typical children are eagerly chatting away to each other. 

Remember that scene in ‘The Beach’ (the Leo movie with the All Saints song) where a man with a manky leg is taken to the opposite side of the island to fester and die alone because his presence is ruining the enjoyment of the idyllic beach for the other non-manky legged inhabitants? Well I’m the man with the manky leg. Me talking about the struggles I have with my child with learning disabilities pricks the parenting bubble of the ‘normal’ mums and they just want to enjoy that god damn beach without me ruining it for them. 


I commented on a well know blogger/vlogger’s Instagram post the other day. It was World Book Day and she’d posted some corny shit about how children are made readers in their parents’ laps. Then some other earnest parent smugly commented ‘a child who reads is an adult who thinks’,  as if she’d imparted some massive and important pearl of wisdom. [Insert eye roll emoji here.]

My comment wasn’t bitchy or self pitying, I just wrote that my child had no interest in books due to his learning difficulties and I wished he would sit on my lap to read. I guess I was trying to make the point that it isn’t always down to the parent if the child isn’t into books. And it doesn’t mean that my child will not think as an adult because he didn’t read ‘That’s Not My Train’ as a 2 year old. 

Straight underneath my comment an online children’s store account wrote ‘reading on laps is the best!’ and then went on to try to flog the blogger a book that was conveniently stocked in their shop. They totally ignored my comment.  Insensitive. But it’s okay, they had a book to flog. 

What pissed me off though, was that this blogger then replied to the childrens store account but ignored my comment completely. Just totally ignored it. Like it wasn’t even there. And she’d seen it because it was directly above the one she was gushing over. 

If this face doesn’t say ‘pissed off’ I don’t know what does

Okay, she doesn’t have a duty to reply; okay she might have been busy; okay she might have overlooked my comment and not seen it. But I doubt it. I think it was too awkward and she didn’t know what to say. So she ignored it. It happens a lot. 

Some of my own friends ignore the issue. Just never mention it, like it isn’t happening. And if I start to talk about it they close down; don’t reply; change the subject. One even told me she wasn’t being rude, she just didn’t know what she was supposed to say and it made her feel uncomfortable. Jeez. Sorr-y. 

Other friends try to help. Send me links to articles about how one boy ‘beat his autism’ when his mum cut out gluten from his diet. Or tell me how a friend of a friend had a son who didn’t start to talk until he was 5 and now he wouldn’t shut up. Or tag me in posts on Facebook about how great dogs are for children on the spectrum. 

Some friends tell me what they think I want to hear. Try to convince me that there isn’t actually a problem, he’s ‘just a typical boy’, he will ‘grow out of it and be fine’. I actually feel for these friends because I too can be guilty of telling people what I think they want to hear. People pleasing. It’s an affliction. 

A few friends just listen. Even fewer actually ask me how my boy’s doing. How I’m doing. Ask me how I’m feeling, if I’m getting enough sleep, if I’m getting enough help. They tell me they admire my strength but if I’m not feeling strong it’s okay to lean on them. They’re there for me. They don’t have the answers but they’re there for me. These friends are few but they’re invaluable. 


If you have a friend like me I implore you to be amongst the latter group of people. Don’t profess to know how they feel, just ask them and listen. Just be there and let them know you care about them and care about what they’re going through. I never expect anyone to give me a solution but sometimes I just need to be able to talk and put my worries out there. Without fear of upsetting someone with my sadness or making them feel uncomfortable. 

And if you don’t have a friend like me but if someone happens to mention their child’s disabilities to you, for the love of God don’t ignore it. Respond to whatever they’ve said in some way. Being a special needs parent is hard enough as it is without feeling we’re being ignored. 

We’re not looking for solutions and answers, we just need to talk things through and let out our worries/fears/emotions sometimes. Or in my case with the blogger, give another perspective; speak out on behalf of those who are different. Remind people that not everyone is going down the same path with their children and we matter too. 

My Child’s Age Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Number

‘Two. He’s only two.’ Was my reply to the mother who loudly asked ‘how old is he?!’ with disbelief in her voice when I told her that I didn’t need the toilet cubicle thank you, because I was waiting to change my child’s nappy on the changing table.

It’s wasn’t a lie, he was two. But he was a week off his 3rd birthday.  I omitted that information when the mother exclaimed that he was extremely tall for his age. (He is tall for his age anyway, as it goes. He wears 4-5 year clothes, mostly.)

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So anyway. My son has just turned 3 but in terms of some aspects of development he is more like 2. The main delay is with speech and language; he’s not yet talking and he doesn’t understand as much as he should. And so he’s not yet toilet trained because we just can’t communicate with each other enough for him to grasp the concept. I’ve tried 3 times but he just isn’t ready.

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I’ve gotten over the grief of finding out my boy has learning disabilities and now I plough my energy into trying to help him and encourage him wherever I can. So it really pisses me off that I still cringe when strangers ask me how old he is. I shouldn’t care. I should just give them the honest answer without feeling the need to justify his behaviour/silence/nappy to them. But I don’t. I don’t want them to judge him as a child or me as a mother.

The difficulty is, if I say ‘oh he’s just turned 3 but has learning disabilities so is actually more like just turned 2’ the poor strangers don’t know where to put themselves. And if I just tell them his age with no explanation of his delays they assume he’s a brat and I’m a rubbish mother. It’s a tough one.

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Now he is actually 3 I know I’m going to find it even harder. When he was 2 (or ‘only 2′ as I always found myself saying) there were some 2 year olds that were at the same stage as him developmentally. Albeit they had just turned 2 and he was almost 3. But 2’s 2. Now he’s 3 people expect so much more from him.

At the doctors surgery yesterday I was struggling to keep him sat next to me, gripping onto him for dear life if I’m honest. Two old ladies told me to just let him have a wander. ‘Oh I can’t’, I told them. ‘He’d be out of those doors and into the carpark.’ They looked at him. ‘You won’t will you? Tell mummy you’re a big boy and you’ll be good.’ They meant well but they had no idea. If I’d have been able to tell them he was ‘only 2′ their expectations would have lowered instantly.

My son’s age really doesn’t matter. If I tell people he’s 2 they won’t question his behaviour and abilities, although they’ll probably have him pegged as a giant. They’ll tell me he’s going through the ‘terrible two’s’ with a sympathetic look on their faces and assure me that he’ll grow out of it soon. But I refuse to lie. His age in terms of the how many years it’s been since he was born means nothing to him, or to me really. I’m more concerned with the age his brain is operating at. 

He’s 3. My boy is 3. And it ain’t nuthin’ but a number.

It’s Been A Long Time, I Shouldn’t Have Left You…

… I sincerely hope you had a dope beat to step to. (If you don’t get it, never mind.)

Hello! I’ve been gone for too long, I know. I lost the will to blog to be honest. Lots has happened and I’ve been busy and stressed and feeling like I should be doing more productive things with my time rather than writing my self-indulgent little blog. But I do love my self indulgent little blog, so here’s a quick update on my life:

What I’ve Been Doing

DIY! Of sorts. I finally finished Zaki’s bedroom and I love it! I’m pretty proud because I did it all myself, from the painting to hanging the wallpaper, to putting up the shelves. No doubt I’ll go off it within a year but for now it’s my fave room in the house.

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What I’ve Been Buying

Too much stuff for my kids, that’s what! We go on holiday to Spain next month and my kids have about 6 outfits for each day we’re there. I, however, will be wearing the same ASOS dress I bought in 2014 day in, day out if I don’t get my act together soon. Always the way. Anyway, one of the best things I’ve bought is this t shirt for Omar. I love it!

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What I’ve been watching

Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders. I am OBSESSED.

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I am totally obsessed. In true me fashion. And that means I now know all there is to know about Cillian Murphy, who is just so bloody beautiful. Heart eyes for days I tell you! Anyway, I came late to the party and recently discovered Peaky  Blinders on NetFlix. It was so bingeable it didn’t take me long to catch up and I watched the season 3 finale on Thursday night with every other sane person in Britain. Ahhh Thomas Shelby, how I love thee.

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If you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders you NEED to. I’m serious, stop what you’re doing and go and watch it right now. I never watch stuff people enthusiastically tell me I need to watch (probably part of my insulant nature) but don’t be like me. This is the best thing I’ve seen in years, you’ll love it!

Omar Update

He turned 3! My boy is 3 whole years old. I can’t get my head around it. We didn’t have a party this year because quite frankly he didn’t really get involved at his last two so I avoided the stress. I had planned on having a mini tea party but illness struck our house and it had to be postponed. I will still do that for him but with no pressure on him to play party games that he has no desire to play. We had some lovely days out to celebrate anyway. We went to a huge farm and Omar loved the outdoor play areas but the cows made him boke. To be fair, they did whiff a bit haha. 

 

He is still progressing with his words and communication, just very slowly. He says about 30-40 words now but still not mama! When will he say mama?! I really can’t wait for that day.

Zaki Update

Zaki is still doing well but he’s had a sickness bug that stuck around for ages and caused him to lose 4lbs so I’m trying to fatten him up again now. He has a cardiac check up tomorrow, keeping everything crossed that his echo scan shows all is ok. Zaki will be 1 next month, which is ridiculous quite frankly! He was only born 5 minutes ago. He cruises the furniture really well now and can manoeuvre himself off the sofa. He’s desperate to be able to walk and chase after Omar but his little legs aren’t quite strong enough yet. 

So that’s about it really. Or more accurately that’s all I really want to share on my blog. Sorry if you’ve found this post a bit dull, I felt I needed to kind of catch the regular readers up (if there even are any!) and thought this would be a quick way of doing that.

Finding Out Your Child Has Learning Disabilities

Things keep happening to me that only happen to other people. I’ve already blogged about my second baby being born with a congenital heart defect and having open heart surgery when he was 2 days old. That happened in July last year. When the doctor first told me, hours after Zaki had been born, I thought to myself ‘this can’t be happening because I’ve read about this sort of thing but it only happens to other people‘. Well it did happen and we got through it. But I’ll admit that I got through it by the skin of my teeth and almost lost the plot more than once.

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I took Zaki home and genuinely believed that once we were all settled my little family would be in for an easy ride for a while. At least a little while. If not forever. I mean, after something as terrifying and traumatic as that how could the universe possibly heap any more shit on us?

Unfortunately we didn’t qualify for the easy ride and more shit was on its way.

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Within days of being home I started to realise things weren’t quite right with my oldest boy, who was 2 years 1 month old when Zaki was born. I wrote about some of my my concerns that he still wasn’t talking here. Well, he’s now 2 years 9 months and still not talking. He still hasn’t said mama or mummy…

If you read my blog regularly you’ll have realised I’ve been quiet lately. Not just here but on social media too. I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that my gorgeous boy, the kid that changed my life and taught me what true love really is, has learning disabilities.

Now I’m coming to terms with it, and I fully understand what it means, it’s actually not as scary as it sounds. But at first I was an absolute wreck. It was all I thought about and I spent every waking moment obsessing about it and what it meant. I cried and cried and cried. Then I cried a bit more. Mostly because I was scared. I had no idea what the future would hold for my sweet, precious, gorgeous, innocent boy. Well I still don’t. And I’m still scared and I still cry. But much, much less now.

He hasn’t had an official diagnosis yet but I’ve had enough dealings with doctors to recognise the warning shots that we’ve been given from them. And I’m switched on enough to realise that he definitely has learning disabilities.

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It all started to become clear when a paediatrician carried out a hearing test on Omar about 3 weeks ago. This was after 12 sessions of speech and language therapy hadn’t really had much effect. The paediatrician told me that Omar was delayed not only with speech and language but also with social and emotional development. That set me off on a crusade of Internet research, which although can be hit and miss, I have to say, did prepare me for what was to come. I read that a delay in 2 areas or more means Gloval Development Delay (GDD). And GDD means learning disability. I still hadn’t really accepted it though. But deep deep down, I knew.

I found an amazing group on Facebook, of parents dealing with similar situations and through that group I found a lovely, supportive beacon of light in the form of another blogger. She prepared me for the emotions I was about to go through. She gave me hope and positivity too. She has been nothing short of amazing. Even though we’ve only messaged online and I haven’t actually met her, I feel like I’ve known her for years. She’s called Janine and she’s great, check out her blog here – Unhinged Mummy.

I finally, properly, fully came to terms with reality a few days ago when a private speech pathologist told us that Omar is severely delayed and is operating at a level at least a year younger than his actual age. She predicts that he will talk but not for around another year. Although obviously she can’t guarantee it. I took comfort in that though and I’m praying she’s right.

She used the terms ‘learning disabilities’ and ‘special needs’ and it was hard to digest but once it had been spoken out loud by a professional there was no going back. It was out there and I had to take a deep breath and do what needed to be done to help my boy.

These years are so so important, if gains are to be made, they will mostly be made before a child is 5. I keep hearing that early intervention is the key. He needs as much support as possible as soon as possible. Great! Let’s put it in place. If only it were that easy…

Everything takes so long and services have been ruthlessly cut, meaning there just aren’t enough resources to go round. I’m already fighting and battling to get my son the help he needs and I’m only a few weeks into what it going to be a really long, hard journey. It’s actually so cruel, the way this Tory government is slashing funding for services. Services for the most vulnerable in society. It actually disgusts me, actually physically disgusts me. Anyway, I digress…

 

So back to how it feels when you find out your child has a learning disability. Grief. That’s the overwhelming feeling. Nobody has died but there is a sense of loss. Loss of the child you thought you were going to raise. That’s not to say I love my baby any less, or wish he was someone else. Of course I don’t. I wouldn’t change him for the world and that’s the truth. But I am so,so sad that his life won’t be as easy as I thought it would be. He will have to work so much harder to achieve every milestone and it just all seems so unfair.

Aside from the grief, I also feel a huge amount of pressure to do everything I can to help Omar to develop and also get him the professional support that he needs. I’ve already hounded his health visitor and early years co-ordinater. I’ve contacted pretty much every nursery and pre school in the area and been to look round a few, trying to figure out where he will get the best help. I’ve spoken to professionals who should only really get involved after a diagnosis, just by being pushy and pressing for help. I can almost hear their eyes rolling when they answer the phone and it’s me again, the pushy mum in the early stages of accepting her child has learning disabilities. But I don’t care. I’ll gladly be a pushy, embarrassing mum if it helps my boy.

It’s a lonely situation to be in at first. It feels like everyone else is going in one direction with their kids and I’m going in another direction with mine, to a place unknown. But slowly I have started to realise that Omar is still Omar. Nothing has actually changed, it’s just that now I’m more aware and now I know for sure he’s different to most other kids.

Maybe harder times are yet to come. We don’t yet know the cause of his delays or how much progress he’ll be able to make. Maybe I’ll be a wreck again once he has an official diagnosis, or if his speech doesn’t progress. But for now I’m trying to take each day as it comes and see the positives.

So here we are. One boy with learning disabilities and one boy with a congenital heart defect. It’s not the life I thought we’d have but it’s the only one we’ve got so we’ll live it together and just as before, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure it’s a happy one for my beautiful boys.

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They F*ck You Up

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

Yep. Philip Larkin hit the nail on the head with ‘This Be The Verse’. We can all probably attribute some of our issues to our parents and the way they did (or in some cases didn’t) raise us. Even if they did their absolute best Even if they were attentive and doting and as mumsy and dadsy as could be. 

And if we know that our parents messed us up then we have to know that we’re messing our kids up. And we can’t stop because we don’t even know we’re doing it.

But it works the other way too.

They fuck you up, those kids you had.

They make you feel helpless, useless and like you’ve lost control.

And that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling for the last ten days. I don’t mean that I haven’t been coping with the general parenting stuff or that I’m tired or my house is a tip. Well yeah, that too. But it’s more serious and it’s got me feeling like absolute crap. To the point that I couldn’t face writing any blog posts or even watching tv. I just wanted to cry and sleep. Sleep brought sweet relief from having to think. 

You might have read about my baby Zaki and his heart. Open heart surgery and a 3 week stint in intensive care saved his life but he so very nearly died and life was hell for a while. Then it got better and I dared to think that we might be in for an easier ride for a while. Because we deserved it after what we’d been through, didn’t we?

I know it doesn’t really work that way but I thought that after something so awful, that was our fair share of crapness done with and there’d be nothing else major coming up. But yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

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I’m not quite ready to explain just yet but there are things going on with my oldest boy that are breaking my heart. I don’t have proper answers yet but what I do know is that we’re going to be in for a tough time of it. Again. And yes, I am feeling sorry for myself because quite frankly, it’s not bloody fair.

I’ve been a total mess but I’m starting to pull myself together now, for his sake, so I can get him the help he needs. I’ve done an awful lot of crying and wallowing though and I’m guessing there’s more to come.

See, this is how our kids fuck us up. They make us vulnerable because anything that hurts them or impacts on them in a negative way, hurts us a million times more. And I’ll be honest, I find it hard to deal with. Especially when everything is totally out of my control and nothing I do will change the outcome.

I’m sure it’s not healthy to love our kids to the extent that we do. For our whole happiness and wellbeing to depend on their happiness and wellbeing just cannot be healthy. And that’s how they fuck us up.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Lately I’ve found myself telling people they really ought to consider not having any kids… ‘I mean, if you can live without them, do. Don’t put yourself through it…’ I said.

Now that my kids are here I love them with every fibre of my being, of course. I couldn’t live without them. But if I could stop my currently childless friends going through the pain that they bring, I would. I don’t buy into the ‘oh you need the tough times to appreciate the good times‘ school of thought either. I can do without the tough times. Honestly. They do nothing for me.

Just give me the good times, please. I promise I’ll appreciate them.

 

At What Age Should I Leave My Baby Overnight?

It started when my baby was 4 months old – my friends suggesting I leave him for a day and night to hang out with them. They are good friends, great friends, and I have no doubt they believed it would be good for me to be away from my kids for a night. To relax, to eat a meal without being interrupted every 10 seconds and to get some gorgeous, uninterrupted, deep sleep. It does sound good. Especially the sleep part. That sounds marvellous actually.

At 4 months old I wasn’t ready to leave my baby
But it was never going to happen that early on. My baby had a rocky start, which no doubt has made me super cautious with him. But regardless of that, I really don’t think I would’ve been ready to leave him at 4 months old, even if he hadn’t had heart surgery. I wasn’t ready to leave my first baby that early either. So I told my friends that and they accepted it.

My baby is now 7 months old and the issue has come up again and again. My friends and I would excitedly be arranging something through a group text chat and it would dawn on me that they were assuming we would have an overnight stay somewhere. And that I would be fine that. But I’m not. Not yet anyway.

And there’s another issue… my husband works unsociable hours and he wouldn’t be able to look after the kids if I was away for a night, so my mum would have to step in. Can I really ask her to have my baby overnight knowing that he is the world’s worst sleeper and still has at least one night feed? I don’t think I can. That’s assuming she was even free to look after my kids on the night in question. She still works part time and has other commitments that keep her really busy. It’s also assuming that she would agree to have the baby overnight and she won’t, she’s too worried he’ll stop breathing or turn blue.

Still not ready to leave him at 7 months.
But aside from all that, I am just not ready. Even if my mum was itching to have the baby overnight, or there was someone else I trusted to look after him, I’m not ready to leave him for that long. I’m not ready to not put him to bed and I’m not ready to not be there when he wakes.

Am I being clingy? Do I just need to convince my mum to have him overnight, bite the bullet and go? Or is it still too early and my friends just don’t get it? If it is too early, at what age should you leave your baby overnight?

I suppose the answer to the question is, when you’re ready. When you’re ready because you feel your baby’s ready. When your baby wouldn’t be distressed at you not being there. When a night away from your baby wouldn’t just be a huge worry-fest consisting of tears on the drive away and a million calls home. When you would actually be able to enjoy the time away to let your hair down and put yourself first for a little while.

I’m not there yet and I don’t know when I will be but I refuse to give myself a deadline of say 10 months, 1 year or even 2 years. When I feel ready I will leave my baby for a night but not a minute before.

My friends don’t get it, they think I’m being over-protective. They don’t say that but say other things like ‘oh your baby’s a tough cookie, he won’t even notice you’ve gone, don’t be silly…’ etc. They don’t seem to get that it’s me who isn’t ready for a night of separation yet. Or if they do get that, they think it’s totally unreasonable. 

And don’t get me wrong, I know there are some mums (and dads) who leave their baby’s overnight much earlier. Through choice or through necessity. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, or judging them at all. The same way I hope they wouldn’t judge me for not wanting to leave my baby yet. 

  
I don’t think there’s a golden rule when it comes to this issue. Except only leave them when you are ready to. Otherwise the night away won’t be any fun anyway and what’s the point in that? My view is that you may as well bank the babysitting hours for when you are ready to go all out and have a baby-free blast. 

I’d love to hear other people’s views on this. Do you agree with me or am I just being a massive mumbot?