Saturday, 7 November 2009


This aching... part two

Just look at their expressions. I think this is one of my favourite pictures because this is how I want it to be: he so fierce and protective, she so proud and secure to be in her brother's embrace.

I worry about him constantly. I listen to how well his peers communicate, how children even younger than him hold conversations that make sense. I read about mums who are talking about the big issues with their four year olds, and compare it to the remedial conversations we have. His talking has come on so much in the last year, but so much that he says just doesn't make any sense. Heading down to the soft play centre yesterday, he kept asking what colour it is. I said that I guess it is yellow, because it has a yellow sign and the mats are yellow. But still he asks, he asks a dozen times until I'm not sure I've gotten the answer right, that I didn't understand what he wanted to know. And then, 'Is it going to get bigger?' I told him I don't understand his question, that it won't get bigger, it is what it is. But still he asks, a dozen times, and I worry.

Once at the soft play, there were two little girls (also four) playing together in the ball pit. Jamie is automatically familiar with people and joined in the game they were playing, which was fine for a time until they decided they didn't want to play with him. 'Let's get away from this boy,' one said. 'Yes, we don't want to play with him'. They scuttled off with Jamie in pursuit. 'Come on, Maia, the girls are going this way!' But Maia knows when people are being mean, and she sat and pouted in a defiant way. He continued pursuing them, trying to engage with them. I got him to come out and take a drink and the girls came out too to complain to their carer that he wouldn't leave them alone, that he pushed in front of them, that they didn't want to play with him. All four went back in, the girls openly mean, Jamie oblivious, Maia mostly impervious. Coming down the slide, one of the girls pinched Maia's back and at the bottom she stood in front of the girl, said 'No!' and pushed her in the chest. I know I shouldn't be proud of this, but I was. And I don't worry about her, she can take care of herself. Steven says it's better that Jamie doesn't realise when people are mean to him, that it won't hurt him if he doesn't know, but I'm not sure.

I told Steven how much I worry about him. Steven says that he heard on the radio about how all the most important stuff in child development happens in the first three years and maybe we just didn't do a good enough job. I almost got out of the car because this upsets me so much, not only because those first three years were spent with me, but because I've read those studies too. I remember just after his third birthday crying so hard to my therapist that those precious three years were over and I'd got it so wrong, that the damage was done and I screwed up an actual person, forever. That he'll struggle in life because I didn't do a good enough job. Late at night I hear him pad down the hall and climb into bed next to me. He curls around my head, he strokes my hair, he holds on to my ear and breathes into my neck likes he wishes he can become part of me again. I kind of wish it too.


  1. GBH, I don't know much of the details re Jamie, however, I can empathise, and I hope that you find comfort wherever comfort is to be found and that you manage to get past the Mama Guilt that we all have for any discrepancies our children appear to have in relation to other children.

  2. Chloe doesn't realise when other kids are being men either. Sometimes I wish she had a brother or sister who did get it and would stick up for her (something tells me I wouldn't get away with pushing other kids). Don't blame yourself, all kids are different. My cousin Amy hardly spoke a word until she'd been in school about six months, she just communicated by pointing and the occasional noise but now some days my aunt has to remind herself of that before she prays for a minute's silence. She went to the doctor and speech therapists and what not without any success, there wasn't any real reason that she didn't speak, it was in there it just took a classroom full of kids to bring it out of her. I really hope you're able to find some kind of peace with this and don't let it eat you up.

  3. Oh Amanda, I am so sorry you are feeling so worried about him. I know you have had a rough time but I feel confident those first three years were excellent and that he was well loved, cared for and recieved everything he needed to develop. Early years development varies widely and EYFS reflects this (I'm sure his pre-school or GP would talk through your concerns). If you are worried do something - I do believe Mama knows best. I know I'm not saying anything new or useful and probably nothing sensitive so feel free to ignore me. I hope you start to feel better. Big (awkward) hugs through the ether. Kat x

  4. Fwiw i think both of your children sound wonderful. My 7 yr old son, was slow to talk and do lots of things that other children seemed to be excelling at and it was so hard not to compare him to hsi brother who had 'acheived' his milestones way ahead of when he was supposed to.
    i beleive mothers have an inbuilt guilt button, no matter what we do for our children we will feel that we haven't done enough. but if you truly beleive that things aren't right, speak to your health visitor or gp at least you will know for sure one way or another.
    and no matter what the result is, its not your fault, no one is to blame, you just have two very special children.

  5. I feel for you, such a difficult situation. Don't blame yourself, I"m sure you did an excellent job in the first 3 years! There are massive individual differences in development and yes, it could all be just perfectly alright in a few months. If you're worried, have you thought about some assessment? Just to get an outsider's opinion and to make sure if something isn't right, it can be addressed as early as possible.

    However, he may just want to tease out more language which silly questions. Like one boy (who is far ahead with his language development at 2 3/4) who asked me today why I say goodbye to people. Of course he knows. But he will take any opportunity to ask why, just because he can.

  6. What did your therapist say when you expressed your concerns? I don't know you well enough to know why you think you got it wrong. I don't know what happened in those first three years to make you feel this way? Without trying to sound too flippant (which is not my intention) boy's are completely unfathomable to me (funnily enough I wrote a blog-post about it today) and I've always secretly thought boy*jelly was weird, but I'm assured that's just boys in general. Have you read the book "Raising Boys" by Steve Biddulph? I find it very reassuring and frequently read it to try and get an insight into wtf is going on in his male head.

  7. My heart hurts for you. My mother always used to tell us that it was her job to worry, and now that I have my own littles, I know what she meant. It sounds like you are doing your job in spades. I hope you and Jamie can find the peace that you both need. (((HUGS)))

  8. Hi,

    there, I was just so moved by your post. I dont know your situation or why you feel that there maybe a problem from your little boy's first 3 years. I dont have any little boys so cant give you a comparable in that way. But I am mum of two little girls. I do know you as a mother are torn daily between being a "wonderful" mum and just being yourself, which sometimes as a human aint so wonderful. I do know as a female a woman, you feel guilty all the time about everything usually. And I have been told that the sign of a great mother is the one who always questions herself always strives to do better for her family her children. Not the ones that smugly think they have got it all right.

    Take care and I hope that you can resolve in your heart that you are doing fine. I am sure your little boy will be doing all the things that children his age are "supposed" to be doing. And if you are still worried talk to your GP or Therapist about your concerns. Better you dont bottle these things up.


  9. I'm not a parent, so I don't have any advice to give on that score, but I wanted to know that I'd read this, I was thinking of you and offering big hugs, tea and cake through the intarwebz

    Emma xx

  10. I feel your pain and heartache and can sympathize. I have 3 children, my oldest has so many acronyms attached to him its not even funny, my middle boy has a speech delay, and so far nothing's come up for my daughter... yet. I have that fear that something will come up for my daughter in the next few years, and feel like it's my doing. Like maybe since my boys have problems, and they came from me, it has to be my fault.

    Truth is, it's not our fault. That's just the way our kids are, and God knew we would be the perfect parents for these children. I don't mean to get all God fearing on you, but it's taken me a while to realize that God chose me as the mother of my children because I have the right amount of patience, love, and understanding for them.

    And if it would ease your mind any, maybe you should talk to your sons physician to see if there could be more to it. My oldest boy has asbergers syndrome, ADHD, ODD,OCD and I'm afraid to know what else. It's been a long road of seeking diagnosis. My middle boy has such a bad speech delay that I feel like you, and can't understand most of what he says. My boy just turned 6. He goes to speech therapy, and it just doesn't seem to be enough at times because I feel awful asking him to repeat himself.

    If you ever need to, feel free to message me and we can talk further. But know that your a great mother for even having concern about these things, and your children were chosen just for you!

  11. I can't really add anything to that other than to repeat that all children are different and Mummies always feel guilty about something.
    Jamie is lovely.

  12. Not sure what to say but I really admire you for writing such an honest post about your worries. Its what makes your blog so great. I know you were worried about his hearing. Did they do any hearing tests as this can delay language?? None of us are perfect parents and children struggle at different times for lots of different reasons. Keep your chin up! xx

  13. *hugs* I feel bad because Kathryn doesn't talk properly, and there are still some sounds she can't make. She cannot tell the difference between Goat and Doat, and been referred to speech therapy, which will start soon. They say it's best to start as early as possible, and that it's good that we looked for help before she's 5. Inside I feel that we've let her down for not looking for help earlier, and just thinking it was a sweet lisp rather than an actual problem.

    If you want some positive comments in relation to this, email me.

  14. Hi Amanda, I'm new to your blog, found my way here via etsy, so don't know much about your journey as a Mama, but didn't want to read and run. I think the thoughtfulness and aching worry in your post show what a wonderful caring mother you are. I don't know any Mama who thinks she has done a good enough job. As others have said, it's never enough. All we can do is keep loving and not give ourselves too hard a time.

    I think you're children sound delightful. I worry too when I see my son go up to other children or grown ups and try to engage them in conversation and they ignore him or don't understand him or laugh. But I think the openness of spirit that allows my son and yours to engage with the world like this can sometimes be a wonderful gift. As Mama protectors we ache when we see the rejection and we hurt even if they don't seem to. But there are other times when their openness makes a stranger smile, engages a child who has maybe never played with anyone at a soft play before, makes a Mama sitting across the other side of the room with a baby smile at their enthusiasm, maybe make her see that there are fun times ahead beyond the all night feeding sessions! Maybe he has learnt his openness from his Mama who has been open enough to post such an honest blog that has obviously connected and moved people.

    He will find his way, especially with a thoughtful Mama like you and a feisty sister at his side.

  15. You did nothing wrong. It is a fact, but I don't think for one second you will believe it. We do our best for our children, the best that the circumstances of our lives allow, it is all anyone can expect. If you can, consider what you would say to a friend in your situation- then do try and listen to those words for yourself. xxx

  16. I read your blog all the time and wouldn't normally comment but after reading this yesterday I really felt for you.

    I don't have children but I do work in educational research and in no way should you consider that you have let him down. The first three years are important but in the sense that you should be talking to your child, reading to them and doing fun activities, whether that be playing or going to the park - that is what really matters and just from reading your blog it is clear you do all that and more. The very fact you worry indicates what a good Mum you are.

    We put too much pressure on children (and their parents) in this country to all be the same at an early age, when really they all develop differently and in their own time.

    Jamie sounds like a lovely sweet kind boy who I am sure will grow up into a kind respectful man.

  17. I just want to give you both a hug. Thinking of you xx

  18. A male that doesn't pick up on subtle (or not-so-subtle) hints from females? Sounds quite normal to me!
    OK, I'm only joking. I'd reiterate what all these people say about how every mum worries and how this thing about the first three years - well, I'm pretty sure that it is referring to those who lock their kids in the cupboard under the stairs and ignore them for three years, not a normal mum who feels bad because the pressures of life meant that she wasn't a constant bundle of joy and laughter... which is all mums. If you did lock Jamie under the stairs for three years, now is the time to come out and say it.

    I think that although you don't say it, part of your worry may be that there are some traits of autism present (do say if I'm wrong)? Without in any way wishing to dismiss your fears, I'd urge to you befriend Lady Mitzi on Live Journal: she has a severely autistic 5 year old and her journal has been a complete education to me (plus, her attitude is incredible, , while somehow not making me feel like even more of a failure as a mum. How does she DO that?).

  19. I don't think you would have written this post 20 years ago*, because we didn't used to worry about 'developmental milestones' or other such guilt-inducing labels. Jamie is an individual, and I don't think comparing him with other children of his age is of any benefit. Do those girls at the soft play centre have as vivid an imagination as him? Are they as kind as him? I'm guessing if their mums knew how mean they were being they'd be thinking, "Shit, what have I done to produce such a bitchy daughter? Why can't she be friendly and approachable like that little boy she's being so rude to? Am I like that? Is it me?...."

    And for Steven to imply that you hadn't done a good enough job was well below the belt.

    * yes, yes, I know you wouldn't have written this post 20 years ago because the interwebs wasn't commonly available. And you'd be 10 years old or something. But you know what I mean :)

  20. Aww hugs to you!!1 I think your J and my J would get on famously...and if they didn't they would both be oblivious to the fact that the other was trying to get away!
    It breaks my heart like it does yours when J doesn't get that someone doesn't want to play or if an adult is being harsh to him. I stopped him going to football because while I had no real problem with the skipping up and down the pitch he did and the general not getting it, I did have a problem with the coaches that laughed at him week in week out.
    J didn't talk at all until he was over 3. I mean, he made noises, could say mamma and dadda and Lou but no other recognisable words. Now he still speaks deliberately, some say too slowly, like he is thinking about what he is going to say instead of the incessant chatting that we have with Looby.
    I don't know the answers though and I often worry about J. and now I'm off for a cuppa coz you've made me cry ;)

  21. Firstly, big hugs to you. I hope you feel a little better for sharing - it's so important to talk about things like this. Although the first three years are important, they are not the be all and end all. All Jamie's time with his Mama is important and you always have and always will be there for him. I am certain that you have given him all the love and care he needs. He will know this. I think it may be worth talking to your GP or health professional about how you feel. I agree with Kat, you are his Mum and you know best. xx