Monthly Archives

August 2016

Sam's Mum

A Mother’s Choice…

 

Today my sweet friend is bringing her second little girl into the world. I imagine she is full of anticipation, some excitement and most definitely a slight dash of fear.  Very soon, she will be a mother of two, that’s going to take a little adjusting to and that daunting feeling of, ‘Will I be able to do this?’ will, undoubtedly cross her mind. However, for today, it will be fleeting.  That fresh little bundle will be placed in her arms and all she will see is love and will be in awe of this new life she created, excited to get to know her and be her Mummy too.

I am so happy for her and excited to hear the news that she has arrived safely and that both of them are well. However, walking alongside my joy for her is the echo of sadness for me. You see, whenever another friend takes that next step into the ‘Mummy of Two Club’, the reality and stark contrast of our journeys are brought to light. I am a Mummy of one, a little boy, Sam, who has brought a light to this world, the likes of which, I could never have dreamed. He is innocence personified and radiates love and happiness.  I fully note that this may be seen as biased, but anyone who meets my little boy can’t help but smile, he draws you in and when he looks at you, he makes you feel like the most special person in the world. I’m sure you are thinking that I seem to be pretty happy with what I have and you would be right. My son is cheeky, warm, clever, musical and loving and he has autism. It is a part of him, but is not the only part that defines him. When I talk about the echoes of sadness I feel in relation to my friends, it is by no means for the little boy I have been blessed with, it is the more the journey itself.

When my son was born I was part of the new ‘Mummy and Me Club’, we all had newborns, all first time mothers navigating through this terrifying journey we had been thrust into. There were the sleepless nights, the nappy explosions, the teething. We were a tribe and had complete empathy and understanding of each others experiences. At that point, we were all pretty traumatised by this new mother world, but also strangely falling more in love by the day. No-one was ready to embark on having another just yet, but we discussed thoughts and tentative plans. Most of us definitely thought we wanted siblings for our first, adored angel. Some had a preference of wanting them close in age, maybe two years apart, others preferred a little longer to recover! They decided three years was the perfect gap.

When I was young, I wanted eight children. Yes. Yes, just reread that again, eight. I was a proper little Mummy and with being the eldest of four, I was able to play this role out nicely. I think it suited me and also gave me a lovely, healthy dose of perspective. By the time I was off to Drama school, I had systematically gone from wanting eight, to six, to four, to two, to most recently, zero. Obviously, being only nineteen does that to you and that suited me just fine, although to be honest I was never really serious about wanting none, but it sounded good and always made people chuckle.

So after many years later and falling in love, marrying my soulmate and moving to Hong Kong, we were starting to get baby fever. This was entirely the fault of living on an expat island, surrounded by families and new babies. I still hold them responsible.  Well, a little. It had nothing to do with my womb actually aching, every woman knows what I mean by this. I used to think, how do women just suddenly feel broody?  Well, I found my answer. We had always had the romantic discussions of having a family one day and dreamily talking about our future little ‘mini-me’s’. We had agreed on two children, as you do. Both having siblings ourselves influenced our prospective decision. After our beautiful boy entered our world, we both thought a three year age gap would be nice if we still wanted to have another.

Well, here we are almost three and half years later, during that time, we have moved countries again, we have also had a less than typical journey as parents. Not less, just different. I must say it has been filled with some of the most joy I have ever felt and that has been in the little moments, ones that may have gone unnoticed had we been on a more typical path. The saying; “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” seems to ring true, especially for us. I do not profess to know what other friends experience through their parenting journeys on a daily basis.  Trust me, I know that being a parent in general takes a huge part of you. However, as far as I know they are parenting ‘typical’ children. Now, to many who are reading this and feel that may be a strange way to describe it, well, the one thing that special needs parents can’t abide is the word ‘normal’.  There really is no ‘normal’.  How boring would that be?  We are all unique. In the Autism world, children who are on the spectrum are neurodiverse and children who are not are neurotypical, hence the use of ‘typical’.

So, for me the plans to have another child have shifted. Sam has been my sole focus since the moment I held him. He is my heart and I really haven’t thought about wanting another until recently. My head and my heart are at different airports, so until they decide which way to jet off  to together, it is still just a floating idea.  As much as I am not a fan of functioning labels, Sam has ‘high functioning autism’. It is very similar to Aspergers but differs due to speech delay. He really is making huge progress at the moment and his speech is coming on leaps and bounds. I will never get tired of hearing him say, ‘Mummy!” I am truly blessed to hear his call.

I seem to have have digressed, a little back story was needed to frame the picture. I had plans to give my little boy a sibling, hoping to be carrying the growing weight of our second child before my first had blown out his three candles. And yet, I am not where I thought I’d be or maybe assumed I’d be. For one thing, my sweet soul, cried sad tears when we sang Happy Birthday to him.  The tune was too low and unpredictable. I do sympathise my boy, I believe only the Voices of Liberty at Epcot could make that song sound any good.

I certainly haven’t felt particularly broody, I haven’t had time to. I have honestly felt that Sam has needed me completely.  There is just no way I could have split my attention between two little ones, especially with having no family around for support.  They are literally an ocean away.  When hubby goes off to work, its just me and Sam. His independence has been gently strolling up the mountain, taking in the views as he goes. There’s no hurry and no race to the finish line.  He needs his Mummy and thats that. And so, I have been and am, Sam’s Mummy. Solely his.

However, more recently and certainly within the last six months, my old tribe of ‘Mummy and Me’s’, have started the next chapter of their parenting story. They are having that sibling we all tentatively talked about in those few months after our first arrived. They are ready. Why wouldn’t they be?  Their paths have stayed in line, they didn’t veer off down a different route.  I was the only one singled out for that path. Their ‘Mummy and Me’ groups will evolve to ‘Mummy Plus Two Clubs’ and they will share new experiences of only having one pair of hands or having constant mummy guilt over having two little people needing you at the same time. Mostly, they will share how much love they see between the two siblings, even if the firstborn originally wanted to send the second back. They will feel content and have that blissful moment of, “This is exactly how it was supposed to be, just how I planned.” And that, however wistful it seems, is what I can never have. I will never be afforded that carefree feeling of just deciding to have another baby. For me, there will always be more to think about.

So yes, there are echo’s of sadness when I see a new announcement from my old tribe “Guess who is going to be a big sister/brother”, or “Baby no.2- coming Christmas 2016”, because, there was a time when I thought I would be joining them.  Ready to be a Mummy of two.  And for just that moment, I feel like I am being left behind. That’s not us, not yet. And that’s ok. And even though this is my choice at the moment, really, it doesn’t feel like it’s been wholly my choice.

So, when I started the walk down this different path a while ago now, I took a last look behind me, as the other Mums kept on going straight, chatting away further in to the distance. I realised, I would have to find a completely new tribe. The old tribe will still always be there, but I won’t always feel like I fit. And in those moments, I will need my new tribe to lift me up and remind me that it’s ok and that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I chose Sam, over all else. Has it been a bit of a lonely walk so far?  Hell, yes. Would I have chosen the straight path over the beautiful gift I was given?  Hell, no. And deep down there is still a little part of my heart, that loves just being a three!

 

 

 

By Jade-Marie Sinclair-Harris

 

 

Diary of an imperfect mum
Spectrum Sunday
A Cornish Mum
Sam's Mum

You came back for me…

 

It’s Therapy day or Thursday as it is known to many. Thursday used to be one of those uneventful days, it’s just past the hump day and not quite a giver of that Friday feeling. This particular day, which was never really very noteworthy in my impression of the week, now holds a weight that causes me to catch my breath. On Monday, I feel like a lighthouse, warning the Thursday ship to stay in the distance with my impenetrable beam, but as it creeps closer, I know I will have to allow it to eventually dock.

When your child needs a little extra help, a multitude of feelings consume you. Sometimes they are easily hidden beneath an invisible veil, concealed so deeply that it would take an eternity to find the bottom of the well. Other times they emerge, peeking through the surface and betraying you over and over. With Thursday, on goes the veil and the perfected smile that reassures my little boy that Mummy is happy and everything will be ok. That smile and that look, the one he needs so completely, is the one I have worked so hard on.  Like an actor learning her part, it is the most important role I will play for him all week.

The week speeds with velocity towards this day, my mind begins to prepare; the bulkheads come down, creating a watertight compartment from which I draw strength. I’m trying desperately to ignore the echoes of my heart behind the steel doors. My little one faces his own path of preparation, age is not on his side for this, allowing him a mere five minutes to really process that he will soon be leaving his safe place. We try to give him as much time as he needs, but I sometimes see the panic dash across his face, the little helpless look at the collection of trains and planes he’s been happily immersed in. He’s trying desperately to pick which ones to take with him, but the fear and anxiety of having to leave is making it tough on him.

I search his beautiful eyes with mine and utter softly, “OK, pick two toys baby”, his panic escalates and he murmurs “Mummy help”. In those two words I know exactly what he needs me to do; I hold out my hands and he gently bends down selecting toys to place in them, he knows he can’t carry all of them himself. I watch intently as he collects his favorites, I know which ones they are even if he can’t yet tell me. Within minutes we manage more than I initially planned, yet somewhere in our exchange was a silent compromise. His small face relaxes with a smile and I know he is content and for that I will gladly carry; the AirForce and the whole of Tidmouth sheds.

Approaching the familiar therapy building teeming with a little apprehension, we step through together and you burst through with the exuberance of a sunflower seeking the sun’s warm rays. My happy, confident boy ready to greet the world.

‘’Hi!’’ you say, as Nicole your lovely therapist heads towards us, she assists another as you strut past independently down the hall, she smiles and says “It’s fine, he can go straight in”. I return her smile warmly as I watch her leave and it is in that moment that I feel it, a small hand hold mine. I turn and look down to see that perfect face, the one I once tried to imagine before he was placed in my arms, my beautiful boy.

The very moment I thought you didn’t need me, you came to find me. I believed that you had marched off to the beat of your own drum, to the room you knew, where you could explore new found treasures awaiting you. And yet, half way there you paused, the beat stopped and you thought, “I need my Mummy too.” You came back for me. You took my hand and gently guided me, telling me to come with you, that you didn’t want to be alone. Our bond transcended every other instinct you felt and my darling, it made my heart soar. Being a Mummy, you accept that however your child expresses their love, they need you, but today my sweet boy, you came back for me and I really knew.

 

 

By Jade-Marie Sinclair-Harris

 

Diary of an imperfect mum
Sam's Mum

A letter to my son…I’ll wait

 

Dear my Sam,

Hello my darling, today has been quite a momentous day for you, well us too. Today you climbed on to your Mickey ride-along car and actually rode it down the hall. You have had that little car since your 2nd birthday, when Nanny and Grandad excitedly gave it to you. And today at the grand old age of 3 and 1 month you actually rode it.

The moment you lifted your leg and sat your little bum down on the seat my breath caught in my chest, I stood waiting to see whether you would just climb back off or just sit still. You then put your hands on the mini steering wheel and you started to move your legs, both together and began riding yourself down the hall. My throat grew tight, the lump rose higher, as my eyes responded with tears. I have heard the saying your heart bursts with love for your children, but my sweet son with you it bursts everyday. My heart swells so much with pride, it feels as if it will literally burst through my chest.

You see to many other parents I am sure they feel this pride as their children ride on their toys, jump on the trampoline, say their first words even. But for you all of these things are a little harder. This week Mummy and Daddy took you see the developmental pediatrician, an appointment we have been waiting for, for months. She spent some time with you, I hope you don’t remember that at one point she pretended to cry and you looked at her, your bottom lip went and your little face crumpled into sobs. you ran to me and looked over at her saying, “happy, happy” willing her to smile again. My sweet sensitive soul, I hate that it upset you. She did assessments with you, Mummy and Daddy looked on as our clever boy impressed her, at one point she asked if you knew any letters. Daddy and I looked at each other and tried to hide a smirk, all of them I said. Hey, I’m one proud Mama, if I could of, I would have stood on that table and shouted it for all to hear.

She asked you questions, she played with you, she watched you. We watched you. There were times when your responses ticked all her mental boxes and there were other times when I could tell what she was thinking.

By the end of the appointment, she spoke to us and confirmed feelings I have had since you were my toddling 18 month old. She told us that you were displaying traits of Autism, that you were also incredibly smart, that you had high functioning autism.

I have always known that you were special, that you see the world a little differently. When it was just you and me in that small flat in Hong Kong, nineteen floors up. The times when I felt so alone and so scared for my little boy, was I doing enough for you, was I loving you enough. I have held you everyday of your life my darling, you have my whole heart and every struggle or difficulty you face, I face too.

You amaze us everyday, do you know that? You work harder than any 3 year old I know. At the moment you are having speech therapy, which is going really well. I am also working with you as always on occupational therapy, especially as you find it hard to transition from one thing to the next. It’s ok my darling, I know its scary sometimes, you don’t always know whats coming next and that makes you anxious. I will always tell you whats coming, don’t you worry.

When we talk together and I ask you, are you hungry? and you repeat it back to me, or you pull me close and say “What’s that amazing smell?’’ and we both say together “mmmm. Chocolate!” Just like Anna and Elsa do. I am learning so much from every way that you communicate with me. Our hearts are tied and I will always find a way to understand what you need. And when everything is too much and you get overwhelmed, I will hold you or just stay and wait for you to come back to me.

I know sometimes you know exactly what you want to say, but it takes a little longer for you to process. I have all the time in the world baby, I’ll wait. You listen to me and I can see that look come across your face when you are concentrating and trying to say the right thing, the thing you think I’m waiting to hear. Always know that anything you say is what I want to hear. And when you say “Mummy, Mummy” when you need me, it is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. There was a time when I didn’t know If I would ever hear you call me. I would have been ok with that too. I love you.

Mummy xxx

 

 

By Jade-Marie Sinclair-Harris

Diary of an imperfect mum