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The One With The Questioning

There’s something that I want to talk about. It’s something that is constantly on my mind, but has been affecting me more recently than in the past few months. Some days, it’s crippling but I carry on because, well, what else is there to do besides live the day to day? I’m a parent who is depended on.

I know that I am trying my absolute best, but I don’t feel like I’m a good mother. 

This has nothing to do with a lack of love in my heart. I love my son more than words can describe. I would do anything for him, regardless of my own well-being. I cherish every snuggle, sloppy kiss, and sweet giggle and I breathe through the tantrums and tough moments knowing that they’ll pass. I understand him, even though he can’t speak, and I think he knows that mama is his home. While I know all of these things to be true, my doubts of my capabilities as a mom don’t falter.

For the past six months, Flynn has been receiving early intervention services. We started him out with just physical therapy to address some muscle weakness, and have built on to that with occupational and speech/feeding therapies, too. He has made a ton of progress which has made me very proud; especially considering just a few months ago, he wasn’t able to sit up at all. I know that this is what he needs, so I have no regrets, but as a mom, I feel lesser than.

It’s hard to let go of a part of motherhood. As a parent, you look forward to those milestone moments like sitting up for the first time, crawling, and walking. When it comes to your child receiving services, such as physical therapy, you sometimes have to take a backseat. I am lucky that I get to attend every single doctor’s appointment and therapy session with my child and I know that so many people are not as fortunate. When Flynn sat up for the first time, I was there, but I was not the one helping him. I was beaming with pride in that moment, but after the celebration, I felt like less of a parent. I didn’t feel like a good mom.

I’m not sure if this is how some parents of a child born full-term receiving early intervention feels, but as the parent of a preemie who needs special services, I think it’s a continuation of how I felt when Flynn was in the NICU. On the logical hand, I knew that this was exactly what was necessary and that this was his best shot. On the other emotional hand, I felt like a terrible mom for not providing him with the care he needed myself and leaving him every day. Then came the waves of guilt for not being able to carry him full-term and causing all of these obstacles for him to overcome. It was the same then as it is now: constantly on my mind with some days being crippling.

The worst days are those when more “bad news” arrives. I quote bad news because, in hindsight, when it’s something that requires more work or different tactics, it’s just a temporary situation - even if temporary means years. Recent setbacks include orthotics, an increase in therapy frequencies, and decreases in muscle tone. I say “Yes” and “What more can we do?” to the suggestions and feedback, but on the inside, I blame myself. I didn’t try hard enough to work with him at home. I’m doing it all wrong and causing him more difficulty. I’m a bad mom.

What can I do though, that I’m not doing already? I’ve changed my work schedule to still work full-time, but to accomodate all appointments. I attend every session, meeting, and doctor’s visit. We do home therapy sessions, to the best of my ability. I focus all of my attention on exactly what I feel is needed. I’m trying my best. My best often doesn’t feel like enough, but accepting the help that is needed shouldn’t make me feel less defeated.

On the harder days when I feel defeated, I try to remember that therapists and aides exist for this reason. They are here to help, not to showcase your “inabilities as a parent.” Some children just need that extra specialized attention. It does not mean that I have failed. Recognizing issues and getting the necessary help is part of my parental duties. Knowing what is best for my son, regardless of my inner feelings and struggles, makes me a good mom. After all, all we can do is give our children the best environment in which to thrive, while providing love and encouragement.

We’re all doing just fine. To be doubting yourself means that you care enough to be better, and that makes you great. I may not be the best mom, but I’m a mom who is trying her absolute best and hopes that her child will grow to know that.


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